This entry has to be dedicated to Starcat. Why, you ask, must this particular entry be dedicated to this infamous Starcat? There is one reason and one reason only: his number has always been 88. I never remember why that is, but it is so.
When I contacted Starcat about his being featured for my 88th entry, he responded by cautioning me that he was feeling quite under the weather (I think it’s just flashbacks, but who am I to say), but that he would be honoured to answer my questions. He and I have a nearly eleven-year history dating back to the spring/summer of 1993, so it was a lot of fun concocting stupid questions that I still haven’t learned the answers to.
In celebration of my 88th entry, and without further adieu, here's Starcat!
Schmutzie: Why the number 88, Starcat? Does it hold a special significance for you? When you imagine the number 88, what colour is it?
Starcat: I'm a long time fan of all things 8. There is something about that number that is solid and defiant, yet it is also shy and secretive, and it broods. It definitely grades a "U" in the field "Plays well with others". When it is doubled, though, it becomes much more dynamic, taking on the carefree, creative spontaneity of the 11. It's a lot like how I see my self. Colour-wise, 8 is usually midnight blue, although at times I see it as being a very light blue (the exact same colour as the letter "e"). 88, though, is a reddish brown. There is an interesting connection, which I just noticed: whenever I dream of my Anima, she is wearing brown and red. As a Practical Aside I give you the page 88 test. I work in a bookstore and need to evaluate many books a day. The blurb on the back is usually useful, but when it comes to whether or not I want to read the book blurbs cut no ice. To gauge a book, I read page 88. This is far enough into the book that the major arcana (characters, settings, themes) of the book will have been introduced, the attention grabbing writing of the beginning is long since gone, and generally little to no spoilers will be encountered. What you will find is a very good sample of the way the author writes, and the overall tone of the book will lie naked before you.
Schmutzie’s Commentary: I, myself, am not fond of the number eight. 8, even standing alone, is brown or orangey for me, which are colours I usually like, but for some reason I don’t like them in my numbers or letters. 8 wobbles; it doesn’t seem to have a determinate purpose; it’s not to be trusted. Midnight blue, my ass!
Schmutzie: When I was a kid, I did not want to wear sweaters made of virgin wool, because I believed that the sheep were cruelly kept apart and denied a natural sex life, though I could never figure out why forced virginity would noticeably alter their wool. What strange beliefs did you have as a child?
Starcat: Ha! This is by far the hardest question for me to answer. I have a tremendous difficulty remembering anything about my childhood. I was one of the world's best daydreamers, and hardly ever paid any attention to anything around me. A virgin woolgatherer I was (sorry, it was just sitting there). Hmm. I believed that I could run faster than the wind, that being 500 miles from home was the saddest thing in the entire world, that oatmeal could only be eaten if Heintje was playing. I thought that the best way to play games was to make up the rules as you went along, that Liberace was better than Beethoven, that there was no better snack than mushrooms from the can followed by a pomegranate.
Schmutzie’s Commentary: Ah, the days of believing we were so fast. That belief reminds of when I was about five, and I thought that if I believed hard enough and practiced long enough, I would be able to teach myself how to fly. I convinced my friend, Brandon, of this, and I pushed him hard, spending time training every day. Training involved only one activity, and that was climbing to the top of the swing set and leaping as far out across the lawn as possible. You can probably guess what happened. Brandon broke his arm during the last of many times that I had urged him to hurl himself off the top of the swing set, and I wasn’t allowed next door for a week.
Schmutzie: What is one thing that you believe as an adult that would be considered bizarre, left of centre, or possibly preposterous by regular folk?
Starcat: Just one thing, huh? This could be hard. Well, I believe that gravity is a push and not a pull, that gravity has a limited range, that the Big Bang has died the death of a thousand qualifiers, that light travels as a wave through a medium, that planets explode, that not only are Pluto and Sedna not planets [but] neither are Mercury or Mars (they are both moons, Mercury escaped from Venus, and Mars' planet blew up), [and that] comets are not icy snowballs. I believe that galactic cores create new matter and give birth to new galaxies, that this stimulates the creation of new stars in the parent galaxy, that these new stars give birth to planets, [and] that these planets give birth to moons. I believe that humans have only been self-reflexively conscious for about the last 2500 years, that we are just barely conscious as it is, and that we have no free will, though we do have choice.
Schmutzie’s Commentary: What am I supposed to say to that? I agree with the stuff that I have any understanding of, and I am so ignorant science-wise that I would probably believe whatever you explained to me if it sounded plausible. I actually believe that we are genetically part alien, but no one bothers believing me on that one. As soon as I mention the word “alien”, sounding plausible flies right out the window.
Schmutzie: This is a hard one. What is one of your favourite memories from between the ages of 13 and 19? One of mine is the memory of how blue the sky could look in spring from the roof of my parents' house just after the sun had dipped below the horizon and the feeling of freedom I had, even though I was hiding behind the chimney in a sleeping bag.
Starcat: There was the one night when I first got my telescope. I went out on a clear night, sighted up Jupiter, and spent the next half-hour or so drawing it and pretending I was Galileo. Every time a noise came from the house I would imagine it was the Inquisition [coming] to torture me for my heresy. There is the morning after a long night's after-grad partying, eating barbecued fish in the mist. There is a sleigh ride with Cora's arms around me as we stare at the stars and sing songs together. There is a glass of Captain Morgan's spiced rum and coke after 12 hours of unloading alfalfa bales (70lbs each) in -20 C (-5 F) that was hyperbolically better than wrapping my hands around a warm cup of coffee. There is a walk in the pouring rain with the Doctor and Snarkypants, a rain so thorough that full Baptist immersion would not have made us wetter, and we all became insufferably giddy in the first great Spring rain. I'm not really good at this "just one thing" thing, am I?
Schmutzie’s Commentary: My bunny is ever so thankful for your alfalfa bales. By the way, who are the Doctor and Snarkypants?
Schmutzie: Is there anything that you own that you make sure to have on you or nearby at all times? If you don't have something like that now, did you have one in the past? What was it and how did you come to own it? The thing that I can't seem to leave out of my bag is a broken ornament from Ecuador with a chicken on it that was given to me by a girl who used to work for me. It's ugly, but I just can't throw the thing out.
Starcat: One day many years ago, let's make it 11, I was sitting down on a sidewalk and I noticed this oddly shaped green thing. It was about the size of a film canister, [it] was made of a hard solid plastic, [and] it had a hole through the middle of it. I said to myself that I would keep this with me until the day I died, on a whim, knowing myself and how well I keep promises to myself. Well, here I am 11 years later, and it has always been in every pack I have owned, and rarely is it less than 20 feet away from me. Not the one-and-only-one promise to self that I would have chosen to keep, but what can you do. Oh, and after having it for a few days, I realized what it was: a "brake" for in-line roller skates. I love making other people guess what it is.
Schmutzie’s Commentary: Actually, this was one question I thought I probably knew the answer to. I haven’t seen that green skate brake in a few years, and I was suddenly curious to know if it was still lurking in the bottom of your sack. There is some sort of comfort even for me in knowing that it is there. I trust that gravity will not suck me through the earth, that oxygen won’t drown me, that I will still be alive when I wake up in the morning, and that that green stopper will be at the bottom of your bag.
Schmutzie: Tell me about your mother (bless that woman's heart).
Starcat: Well, as you know, my Mom really is a very nice person. She's a fantastic cook, she loves to work in her garden, and when she gets into the wine she turns into the happiest, giggliest person in the world, almost like a young girl. Normally she's a lot like one anyway. She has this wonderful innocence to her that belies the fact that she has actually seen a little of life's strange and bad sides. She is perfectly at home in the world where math and money meet (as a consequence I have no idea how to do my taxes), but rather than pursue a job in banking she prefers the simple life of living on a modest farm. Turn up Neil Sedaka, Patsy Cline, or Wham, and you will have a singing fool on your hands. She can polka up a storm. I'm leaving lots of stuff out, but you get the general idea.
Schmutzie’s Commentary: Things I remember about Starcat’s mother: she usually had a purplish bruise in a definite shape on the back of one of her hands that wasn’t a bruise but was due to some ailment, she still got upset and felt guilty when she remembered the time she broke a wooden spoon on Starcat’s butt, she had the sweetest little of voice of a naïf that belied her life experience, and she had the courage to give me cash for Christmas when she didn't know what to get me.
Schmutzie: Now that you are as old as Jesus, do you have any wisdom to pass down to the youth of today?
Starcat: Well, for starters: Kids, you should always do one thing every day that you think that you hate, it will build character and give you good stories to tell. Learn to tell these and many other stories. Never Floss. Drink more water (can't stress this one enough). Learn to freakin' spell, your web site is atrocious [I assume he’s not referring to me here]. Your parents know that you're topping their alcohol up with water, but hey, they haven't said anything so far, so.... And remember these words from my last fortune cookie: The laws sometimes sleep, but never die.
Schmutzie’s Commentary: Man, I almost forgot the excellence of that fortune cookie. They must be introducing new sayings at the fortune cookie factory. I’m sure “you will have gold coins by the bushel” gets tiresome after a few decades. Oh, and I am a little bit sorry for the “old as Jesus” comment.
Schmutzie: So, Starcat, if you don't already totally hate me, please answer me this: why do you continue to weather my sarcasm?
Starcat: Is this where I tell you that I would probably think that there was something wrong with you if you weren't perpetually snarky to me? If you didn't say something mean to me how would I ever know you were running dangerously low on beer? Besides that, I've talked to you in the morning before you've properly woken up; everything, including interrogation under the Inquisition, is relatively mild forever after. Oh, and it might have something to do with the fact that I love you, you lunkhead.
Schmutzie’s Commentary: I knew it. We’s da best a friends. This last question is so obviously fishing for praise for me, and I’m not afraid to admit it. Thanks for giving in to my wishes and being relatively nice, even if your answer hinted at me being kind of a bitch. All things aside, you da bomb.