Category: Feline Overlords

Cats In Movies: 1985’s ‘Explorers’

When I was a kid, my best friend’s dad had a trove of science fiction on VHS tapes, running the gamut from 1950s flying saucer classics to 80s fare like The Last Starfighter, Flight of the Navigator and Explorers, a little-known Disney film that quietly came and went from theaters in 1985.

The Joe Dante-directed movie attained cult status in subsequent years via home video, and it’s easy to see why: Explorers is the stuff kids’ dreams are made of.

The movie follows three boys who dream of a bizarre symbol — a symbol that, when entered into a computer, spawns self-writing code that generates a floating sphere.

The sphere is an an airtight, transparent, inertia-less magnetic bubble. The boys soon realize they can make the sphere move and manipulate its size. More importantly, they can ride in it.

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Wulfgang (River Phoenix) and Ben (Ethan Hawke) activate the sphere for the first time, before Wulfgang’s cat shows them how to make a space ship out of it.
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The dream symbols from Explorers: Not bad for 1985 computer-generated graphics.

Naturally, they build their own space ship out of junk parts — an old Tilt-A-Whirl ride, a garbage can, a TV screen and washing machine doors for windows — and use the magnetic bubble as its invisible shell.

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The boys build a space ship, which they dub Thunder Road, out of parts found in a junkyard.

After their first flight — in which they lose control of their new ship, crash through the snack bar at a drive-in theater and draw the attention of police — the kids refine their invention, discovering a way to reach outer space.

Explorers is Ethan Hawke’s first movie. He plays Ben, the dreamer of the trio, the kid who lays on his roof at night and gazes at the stars, wondering what’s out there.

The late River Phoenix also made his film debut with Explorers and plays Wulfgang, the proud nerd and young scientist who uses his computer to control the ship-in-a-bubble.

And former child actor Jason Presson plays Darren, the kid who comes from a rough existence with an alcoholic dad, and befriends Ben and Wulfgang when he defends them from bullies at school. (This being the 80s, the bullies are very blond, very stupid and very cruel.)

So where does the cat come in? By showing the three kids the potential of their invention, of course.

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Wulfgang’s cat jumps on the keyboard, sending the sphere zig-zagging through his basement.

Wulfgang and the boys first conjure their magnetic sphere into existence in using a computer in Wulfgang’s basement lab, and marvel at it as it hangs in the air, impenetrable and seemingly immobile.

That’s when Wulfgang’s orange tabby does what cats do and flops down on the keyboard, sending random spatial coordinates to the sphere which then zig-zags throughout the basement. As the sphere tears holes in old junk, punctures a window and comes to rest a few feet away, the boys realize it can not only move, it can be guided.

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Takeoff!

Every boy dreams of exploring space at some point, and Explorers is that dream realized through a child’s eyes. Three kids from the suburbs build a ship that can reach outer space, offering answers to the tantalizing questions about what’s out there.

We’re not the only ones with fond memories of the movie. A Hollywood script-writing duo which includes the director of True Detective has been working on an updated version that would play out as a live-action TV series. Here’s to hoping if their project gets the greenlight, the cat stays in.

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Grudge The Cat Makes Her Star Trek Debut

One of the most anticipated new characters in Star Trek: Discovery’s third season made her debut this week, continuing a proud tradition of felines in the Federation.

Grudge the Cat is a Maine Coon and the beloved pet of new character Booker Cleveland, played by David Ajala. (Ajala should be familiar to science fiction fans of his roles as Captain Roy Eris from Nightflyers and Drifter from Kill Command.)

Ajala’s Booker plants a kiss on Grudge’s head as the floofy feline hangs out on the bridge of his starship. Later, when a mercenary courier tries forcing Booker to reveal the location of priceless cargo and Booker refuses, the mercenary threatens Grudge.

“She is a Queen!” Booker says indignantly, clearly more upset at the threat to his cat than to his own personal safety.

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Grudge is played by Leeu, a male Maine Coon who was chosen after the producers put out a call for a large domestic cat.

The floofy tabby follows in the paw steps of Spot, Commander Data’s beloved orange tabby on Star Trek: The Next Generation, as well as the show’s most prominent species of felid aliens, the Caitians.

Now we just need to get Buddy his own guest spot on Star Trek — preferably as the captain of his own ship.

Cat Unimpressed With Huge Alligator At Its Door

A house cat in Florida looked decidedly unimpressed by a massive alligator that tried to force its way into the cat’s home earlier this month, sitting calmly just a few feet away as the alligator pressed against the front door.

”Hey!” we imagine the cat saying. “This home is taken! This is my house and these are my humans, and if you think you can just break into my territory, you got another thing coming!”

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The photo was taken in Sarasota, Florida, where it’s not unusual to see the predatory reptiles waddle their way through developed areas, particularly during storms. In the viral photo — which has been shared more than 104,000 times on Facebook — the alligator’s belly is pressed up against the glass door, which itself is reinforced by wrought iron in a floral motif.

We asked Buddy the Cat whether the sort of bravery exhibited by the Tuxedo in the photo is typical of all felines.

“Ahhhh! What the hell is that?!?” Buddy said, jumping back six feet. “I mean, uh, of course I’m not scared. Us cats eat alligators for breakfast!”

Photo credit Ed Werdell/Facebook.

Star Trek: Discovery Casts A Handsome Maine Coon

A regal Maine Coon is the newest cast member of CBS’ Star Trek: Discovery, continuing the proud tradition of felines serving aboard Starfleet vessels throughout the franchise’s half century of existence.

Leeu, an 18-pound fluffster, will play Grudge, the feline companion to David Ajala’s new character, Cleveland Booker. Science fiction fans may remember Ajala from his excellent performances in 2016’s Kill Command, about a military AI gone rogue, and Captain Roy Eris in 2018’s Nightflyers, which was based on a short story by George R.R. Martin.

“We put out a casting call for a large cat … and he fit the bill. So far he seems to be a one-take wonder,” said Leslie Lawrence, one of Leeu’s trainers.

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Grudge making himself comfortable in the captain’s chair on Discovery.

For Discovery’s crew, getting a solid acting performance out of Leeu isn’t much different than a photographer getting a cat to pose for a picture.

“Everybody says that their cat can make a good set cat,” Lawrence said. “But it does take a specific animal to be able to stay cool and calm and collected, because when cats are done, they’re done.”

Find out more about Grudge in the video below:

“Hello! Scratch Me Right Behind My Ears Please!”

Well hello there, human!

Let me just squeeze in here and…ah, that’s better! Now I’m sitting between you and the glowing rectangle, which means you must pay attention to me.

You know, human, you really are the best. Forget all that stuff I meowed before when it looked like dinner was gonna be late. I didn’t mean it. Can you just go ahead and scratch me behind the ears?

Ah, that feels good! Now my cheeks and under my chin! Don’t be afraid to give my fur a good scratch. That’s it. This is the life! I’m so relaxed…

Hey, could you scratch just right here on my belly? No, I’m serious, I’m not just showing you my belly for poops and giggles. I really could use a good scratch right there and…wow that feels great…hey, stop it, you jerk! You had a good thing going there and then you ruined it by going half a millisecond too long.

Now scratch my head again, it’s time for Seventh Nap…