Tag Archives: Dogs

Review: Kinski


Writer and Artist – Gabriel Hardman


Kinski is the story of a man who ruins his life over a dog. Joe is unsatisfied with his job as a chicken feed sales rep, and needs to find meaning, which he does in the form of a black lab puppy.

Joe immediately assumes the owners must be irresponsible since the dog escaped somehow, and decides to take ownership of it for himself. When he’s forced to surrender it to the pound he tries to claim it as his own, only to find the real owners have reclaimed it. When he finds the real owners, and sees the dog happy with a kid, he decides to steal it anyway.

Maybe this an homage to the German art films Hardman is referencing, but I found this to be a meandering tale with no meaning. The puppy is just friendly by nature, and yet Joe thinks he has formed some special attachment to it, even though he has never owned a dog before, and only has an outside view of how to really care for one. He throws away his life largely on a whim and even though he seems to find some measure of happiness later, it’s only after pages and pages of one bad decision after another.

Hardman’s artwork is the saving grace of this book, and he does a good job of depicting a man going further and further off the deep end. His desert scapes and trailer park scenes are detailed and evocative. And the dog itself is cute. But that’s really all the book has going for it.

The tale moves briskly, which is just as well considering. The ending relies on two time skips of six months to give Joe some kind of a happy ending, and some plot elements happen completely “offscreen” as if Hardman was rushed to a conclusion. I guess I had the wrong impression of what this book was. I thought Joe would get embroiled in some mob dealings or something because of the dog, but frankly for most of the book, he’s the bad guy.

Want to read a book about dogs? Try Peanuts.

(2 stars | Disappointing)

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Introducing Coonie

We are now outnumbered by our pets. Actually you could also look at it that I’m outnumbered, three women against me and the dog.

Perhaps I should better explain, we have a new cat.

I have long resisted my wife’s suggestions that we get another cat, perhaps a kitten that our cat, Dax, could train up as her own. This could also help to reduce any loneliness in Dax, though she has always seemed perfectly content to lie in the sun and torture our dogs (Simon and now Riley).


I am not a cat person, though I am directly responsible for the first cat.

Dax ran up on our porch on Beggar’s Night five years ago and whatever inclination we might have had to let her back out into the night was shattered when I uttered the words “we have to take care of the least of these.” Incidentally my pastor finds my interpretation of this passage hilarious. We did make a considerable effort to search for her original owner, but to no avail, and truthfully in that time she had wormed her way into our hearts. We love Dax, though she is a pretty high maintenance cat (now about 9 years old). We give her comfort treats in the morning and the equivalent of kitty Prozac every night (which is a two man job). All of this in an effort to reduce the amount that she pees on our doors, and like many cat owners we have become subject to the whims of our cat, letting her in and out at times of her choosing, lest we be punished.

Don’t get me wrong, she’s very cute. She does the thing where she hides all her legs under herself like a loaf of bread, and makes a really cute purr noise if you poke her when she’s not expecting it. She’ll snuggle with you and purr and particularly likes to lick your feet just after you get out of the shower.

Anyway, about a week and half ago my wife and I were sitting in the living room. She’s watching Bones and I’m catching up on some Arkham City when the dog hears a noise. I love Riley, but we’re still working on the not barking at even the slightest provocation, though in this case his interest was justified. We heard a very pathetic animal noise. My wife and I interpreted this noise very differently as it happens. I thought I heard the cry of an injured animal, maybe a raccoon that had been in a fight, and was probably something to be avoided, lest we get scratched. My wife describes it now as the most pathetic mewing noise you could hear.

Turns out she was right. An extremely friendly little kitty came out of the bushes and started rubbing all over her feet, even allowing my wife to pick her up and more shockingly pet her belly.

I know!

The day before I’d seen some lost cat signs and said that this cat was probably theirs. So we put her in the cat carrier and drove her to her supposed owners. But as it turns out, though she looked quite similar, this was not their cat. We called around for shelters but on a Sunday night there’s really nothing you can do. We searched PetFBI, Craigslist, Facebook, etc. but had no luck finding anybody looking for her. We didn’t want to let her back out into the cold, and she was such a sweet kitty that we wanted to make sure that wherever we dropped her off it was a no-kill shelter. As it turns out, at least in the state of Ohio, this is not an easy thing. We (Ohioans) care more about dogs, who I guess are less capable of taking care of themselves, but still.

But the truth is it was no use anyway. A day in the house and my wife had already fallen in love. Coonie (as I originally nick-named her) has a bushy tail (like a raccoon) and is only about 6 pounds (the vet thinks she’s 6 months to a year old). Her right eye is deformed which also was behind our motivation to make sure she got into a no-kill shelter or had a good home with us.

Cat integration is proceeding well. We may actually have detentes, Dax and Coonie don’t particularly like each other, but they stay out of each other’s way which is way better than Dax has been with the basically feral cat that often came by our house (an orange male we nick-named Worf). Riley actually seems to get along better with Coonie than he ever has with Dax (he has yet to realize that hissing and swatting does not mean the cat is playing). We even caught him licking Coonie yesterday night which she seemed to tolerate, at least initially.

So, I don’t know, I guess now we’re those crazy pet people. This had probably been brewing ever since we bought a coat for the dog (though he has thin hair and it can get very cold outside). If nothing else all the animals keep things exciting, and now I have another adorable ball of fur running around while I try to convince the dog we need to stick together.


Any tips on cat-cat, cat-dog integration?

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Out of Commission

Today is really my first day back after a cold that just wouldn’t quit. The worst of it was two weeks ago and lasted from Monday night until the following Sunday, with a follow-up week of reduced energy and a continued cough.

This often seems to happen to me when I start with a new project, or when I’m getting into a groove. This happened to my external projects, and even a bit with my work writing. Ironically, I can program under almost any conditions, but writing seems to require a baseline level of health.

Still, I’m pretty stubborn. I’ll call one day off work maybe, but after that I’m back it, both for the job I’m paid for, and for other work. The only trouble is that I don’t really feel like doing anything but watching TV and/or reading comics books (and maybe some casual gaming if my energy level goes up by a micron).

How do you write when all you want to do is die?

Okay, maybe there are some authors who feel like they’re going to die all the time and that actually serves their work, but as a non-fiction/mystery/sci-fi writer, feeding off lows isn’t really my bag.

As always I fall a little back on the mantra of non-fiction, which is to do something else. If you’re not feeling writing, do something else productive, even if its just organizing files, selecting research materials, or re-reading source material. Production may not be possible, but that doesn’t mean brain storming isn’t. After all, it was mostly my head that was affected, maybe some neurons were knocked around in patterns that would be helpful for the work.

But admittedly it might be just as helpful to surrender for a little while, only to come back swinging when you’re really feeling up to it. Even though I feel like a fairly disciplined author, capable of long swings of constant production, I still have to be attuned to the up and down motions of moods and phases of life. It may be that in the times I’m not writing, I’m doing the most creating.

Okay, that felt pretty hippy-dippy, even for me.

Seriously, being a writer is a constant battle between being honest with how you’re feeling, and what you want to do. And always thinking up ways to make the best of how you’re feeling at the moment, while also constantly evaluating and beating yourself up for the times you haven’t been productive.

Well beating yourself up isn’t exactly helpful per-say, but it’s just part of the DNA.

Maybe that’s enough rambling from now, and I should just get back to work. That said, I am thankful for the little joys even of being sick, the ways in which my wife takes such good care of me (making food and tea and covering me with warm blankets). I enjoy my animals (even the dog who is making some pretty disgusting chewing noises against rubber at the moment). The cat even slept on me when my wife was away (which is a mixed blessing but a very nice gesture). I finished a couple of games I never make any time for, read a crap ton of comic books, some of which I’ll be reviewing later in the week and slept more than I have in months.

What do you do when you’re sick? Do you still try to work, or do you just rest?

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Writing with too much time on my hands

Most of us who’ve been at this writing game for a while dream of the day when we can write full time, when all we have to do is wake up in the morning, and go to work on our favorite passion.

I find myself in one of those situations for the next six days. My wife is out of town visiting friends and because of the condition of our beagle he needs someone to be around the house most of the day, not only for pills, but to check that he’s okay and help him through any seizures. This basically leaves me with a lot of time sitting on the couch, not being able to go anywhere away from the house for more than an hour or so.

On the one hand this is great. It’s probably the most restful bit of time I’m bound to have for a while, and the dog needs my presence and occasional assistance more than my constant attention. As I write this he is laying at my feet patiently waiting for is 8am pills and breakfast, occasionally stirring to chew on his nylabone. We have a noise machine going now 24 hours, so I am surrounded by the sounds of calming waves.

Yet I’m not exactly in the writing head space either, and haven’t been for the last few weeks as this has been going on. But I’ve got six days with little to do but sit here with my laptop, petting the dog and typing. And part of me feels I shouldn’t waste opportunities like this by spending them playing video games (even though I probably will spend some time on Bioshock 2) or watching TV. Since my editor is out of town, that work would be on new projects, either stories for Bradburys, or something else, which frankly requires a little more creative energy than continuing on a well established project. My brain says things like, “you could write 2000 words a day, or get four short stories done” and my body says “let’s watch The Simpsons and clear hard drive space” or “let’s read comic books.”

When I’ve had times like this before, it has always helped to have a routine. That’s the one thing I think is good about having a full time job, is that it kind of forces you to have to make the best of the time you have left, and puts your life in a natural structure. So it is nice to start the morning writing to all of you, even though the dog keeps looking at me like time is passing at a glacial pace. “I haven’t eaten yet either, bud.” I gently remind him.

The only problem with routines is they take time to establish. I think it’s probably going to take a couple of days to really figure how best to make use of this time, and then it will be half over. In the end the space of a few days really isn’t that much in the grand scheme of things. If all I’ve done is entertain myself and take care of essentials, that might be restorative for future projects later. And as I write this it might actually be a great time to work on fractals, since it’s this perfect combination  of creative and rote energy.

I guess we’ll just have to see what the week will bring.

How do you guys spend your free time, if you ever get any?

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