Pavane for a Dead (?) Kitten

Admission: I didn’t even know my camera could take ‘moovies’. My previous photographic boat-anchor was a Russian Pentax knock-off I got in the parking lot of a club from a junkie after I figured out he was putting my rent income in his arm. The thing was…um.. ‘warm to the touch’, but it worked.
Anyway, I was looking at a batch of new photos a few weeks ago. I’d just loaded ’em into The Computer (another derelict from a dead-beat) and one of them ‘moved’. ‘Bout fell off my chair! Turned out I’d accidentally hit a button somewhere. Clever people, the Fujis

So I was ready when my kitty disappeared:
I’d put this horizontal-axis Savonius-principle windmill up in the air the day before. The cat sat and watched it all day, entranced. He probably got a stiff neck from turning side-to-side for hours like the judges at ping-pong tournaments.
Later that night I realized I had a re-use for a discarded metal band lying in the street, and quickly built a kalimba music-box to be played by the rotation. The ‘song’ was kinda an accident; the length-of-tine isn’t a linear function of pitch, so I was stuck with a morbid minor-key collection of notes. I made it run once for a quick test at midnight, fed the kitty, and went to sleep.
In the morning it was already playing this funeral dirge, through the window, in an 8 mph breeze. Something registered, and sure enough, my kitty had apparently ‘gone on to his reward’ overnight. No sign of him, the little six-month old boy. Not flat on the street and not hiding somewhere injured by a competing bully male.
Meanwhile ‘Nevermore–the Music Box’ droned on inexorably all day, sounding more and more like the music accompanying JFK’s final journey in DC in November’64. Entered my head that maybe the kitten had heard the music and took it as a portent. Or a hint?

Anyway, I used my newly-discovered movie feature to shoot this clip. No Steady-Cam.™, although it’s probably in there somewhere. (Read the Book.) I posted the video and thought for a while what to say….

Two days later, 11:30 PM, the cat meowed at the door(!).
“Where the hell were you?”
He just looked at me and indicated that his food dish was empty. No explanation offered, and I’ll most likely never know what happened.

Oh and and today I suddenly realized (duh) that I can simply snip a bit off of the two ‘offending’ tines; raise the minor third to a major, and the flat 6 to a major 6. Remake of ‘Don’t worry, be happy’
Dunno, the result might be too sickly sweet. I’ve gotten used to hearing ‘Pavane for a Dead Cat’ on repeat in the backyard. It don’t even sound sombre anymore. “Life’s a bitch, and then you get run over.” my kitty says, wise for his age.


11 thoughts on “Pavane for a Dead (?) Kitten

  1. frtnr_mama

    Jonathan, you’re brilliant!  I love your ‘don’t worry, be happy’ tune… although, I can see that it might get old if you’re too close;  kinda like the washing machine ‘singing’ songs.  Still, it’s a cool setup to make the windmill out of buckets.  Do you use it for generating elecricity at all?  Ingenious!

  2. jsolberg

    @frtnr_mama – Thanks, and well, making ‘noise’ (and attracting attention) is the likely future for this model. At full speed it calculates to maybe 7 watts. I’m collecting drywall buckets for a mega version, but the design has intrinsic limits, plus I hardly use electricity here.

  3. MelFamy

    I once read that Edison installed a turnstile on the gate leading up to his house, just in time for a party he was throwing. The turnstile was stiff, and each guest struggled to push past it.”Your latest creation has some bugs in it.” said one party-goer to Thomas Alva.”On the contrary, it is working just fine,” The invemtor replied, “Every rotation of the turnstile pumps 5 gallons of water into my tank on the roof.”I think you guys would have gotten along.

  4. chromepoet

    Why? So many beautiful buckets deprived, permanently, of the only purpose they knew. Complete loss of identity – discorporation of internal subjectivity – objectively enslaved to tasks beyond the horror of imagined boogies – redundant work without thought – eternal – to create product of value to investors but not the workers themselves – products having no connection to the art and craft to which the buckets dedicated their lives … Take care my friend, or your containers will unionize.

  5. jsolberg

    @chromepoet – A measure of how seriously I take your thoughts: yes, I felt nauseous sawing the buckets in half, no other word. Felt for them, their modest dreams cleft in twain. Only knowing that, tossed as they were in a dumpster, their likely fate would have been more depressing. I lovingly cleaned them (took hours: acrylic stucco, ugh) and painted ’em gay colours.All in all, I’ll probably get six months to two years in limbo. ‘to hell in a handbasket’ came to mind.

  6. jsolberg

    @MelFamy – well, not certain we’d click. Edison is kinda an electrical Ghandi. Electrocuted an elephant as a public relations gimmick, and did a bunch of other awful stuff. Plus, it was me who finally approached him poolside with that immortal one-word bit of advice. “Tungsten”, I whispered, and the rest is history.

  7. elgan

    Well done! Your kitty probably heard the call of the wild, and then realized that there’s no place like home. Actually, he heard the call of your kalimba and thought it was the wild, then realized his mistake and headed back to where his food dish was waiting quietly for him. Gotta love that Shimon Garfinkel, eh? Say, on a different note, did you listen to that recording I gave you? I never got any feedback.

  8. Roadkill_Spatula

    A paint-bucket-driven thumb piano. Whodathunkit.Obviously I’m interested in technical details like what did you use for bearings? What is that log-like thing the twangers attached to? How many windmills do you have up now? Has your cat been neutered? Wormed? Circumcised?

  9. jsolberg

    @elgan – Methinks as soon as he heard Ravel his life started to unravel and he decided to rebel, mebbe ally with some rival. Anyway he’s back, and I’ve trying to play Home Sweet Home with six notes. Oh, of course I listen to your disc. Same perfect pitch, enunciation. (first time I ever unnerstood the words, ha.) Blues is so id-ed with black culture Charlie M. notwithstanding that I’m obliged to say ‘Not bad for a white girl.’ Actually I’m working on a tune I’ll call “I got everything BUT the Blues” with a girl bewailing her lack of experience living under a bridge. Thanks for the nifty present, El.

  10. jsolberg

    @Roadkill_Spatula –  I wuz expection you, ha. The lower bearings are from a salvaged VCR (remember them?), Upper is a discarded washer drum. The sound-chamber was the displacer on a trial Stirling engine, rotary, which kinda didn’t work. Just tin and plywood and handy. I’ve got only four test units spinning; Well, five. Got to avoid attraction attention (yeah right)The cat conforms to all pertinent ‘free-range’ stips. Got him on the same med plan as me an’ the chickens. Seriously, the bucket-principle ‘machine’ can never produce cost-effective elec. Maybe pump water. It’s just a colorful nosegay/windchime.

  11. gnostic1

    Fascinating machine! A few more radiating struts, a few more tuned bands and I think you could open for Nine Inch Nails (whatever happened to true industrial music? A friend of mine used to play percussion on discarded washing machines and refrigerators.)But can it produce neuterinos?


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