Category: Tigers

Buddy’s Dark Materials

With a Game of Thrones-size void left in my TV-watching schedule, and shows I care about — The Expanse, The Last Kingdom, The Witcher — either between seasons or yet to debut, I’ve been watching HBO’s newest big-budget fantasy adaptation, His Dark Materials.

Based on a series by the British novelist Philip Pullman, His Dark Materials follows the adventures of Lyra, an 11-year-old girl living in a parallel world that resembles a steampunk version of Victorian England.

What sets the series apart, aside from its fantastical setting, is the prominent presence of animals. Lots and lots of animals. Animals everywhere: Rabbits, foxes and cats underfoot, hawks and eagles in the air, snakes slithering on the shoulders of their humans.

In Lyra’s world, the human soul isn’t a nebulous concept or incorporeal entity. Instead, each person’s soul takes the physical form of an animal.

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James McAvoy plays Lord Asriel, whose daemon is a powerful and intimidating snow leopard named Stelmaria. Credit: HBO
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Stelmaria looks just like a real snow leopard, a credit to the show’s visual effects team, who had their work cut out for them with this adaptation. Credit: HBO

These animals — somewhat controversially called daemons in the books and series — are fully sapient creatures with the ability to speak, and they often serve as the conscience and voice of reason for their humans. The bond between humans and their daemons are sacred, the series informs us, and they cannot be separated.

The daemons of children can change form, taking the shape of virtually any animal, but upon adulthood each person’s daemon “settles” as a particular animal and no longer shifts. A daemon in its settled form, the series tells us, reflects the true nature of a person.

Nomadic people’s daemons often settle as hawks. Sneaky or evil characters have daemons who settle as snakes and insects. Protagonist Lyra’s daemon, Pantalaimon, hasn’t “settled” yet in the series, and he’s been seen as a cat, a moth and a fox — among other forms — but he usually takes the form of a snow white ermine:

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Lyra (Daphne Keen) and Pantalaimon, the tiny ermine to the left. Credit: HBO
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Ruth Wilson plays Mrs. Coulter, whose daemon is a snub-nosed monkey. Credit: HBO
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Lin Manuel Miranda plays the roguish aeronaut Lee Scoresby, whose daemon is a rabbit named Hester. Credit: HBO

Of course, were I to occupy Lyra’s world, my daemon would be a massive and powerful tiger. I mean, let’s face it, no other animal would do me justice. 🙂

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Who would mess with me if I had my own tiger? Credit: Andrew James

Alas, I already have one, and his name is Buddy. While watching the show, I couldn’t help but notice the way the animals follow their humans is precisely the way my cat follows me. The show’s daemons are never far from their human counterparts, and straying too far away causes them pain. To hear Buddy yowl when I’m on the other side of the bathroom door, he feels the same way.

Unfortunately he wouldn’t be much help in a fight, but he’d be a hell of a wingman!

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“You’re never getting away from me, dude!”

 

Announcing the 2nd Annual Buddy Portrait Contest!

Hey, palicos! We’re pleased to announce the second annual Buddy Portrait Contest, a prime opportunity for artists around the world to show off their talents with illustrations of Buddy.

Let’s look at last year’s winners for inspiration!

3rd place:

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This one’s a bit too manga for our particular tastes, but the artist deserves credit for getting Buddy’s musculature right. This sketch takes a naturalistic approach, eschewing exaggeration in favor of stark realism.

2nd place:

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The judges absolutely fell in love with this pencil illustration, which renders Buddy’s hulking frame in dramatic greyscale tones. Buddy’s visage is fierce and his shaggy tail suggests virility and power. The drawing is centered by his considerable biceps and his fourteen-pack. Bravo!

1st place:

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This is the Buddy we all know and love: Regal, majestic and powerful. In this awe-inspiring piece, Buddy looks toward an unseen horizon, his whiskers and tail alert and broadcasting unshakable confidence. His symmetric handsomeness is reproduced faithfully by the clearly inspired artist, and his broad shoulders are framed by jagged stripes in homage to Buddy’s heritage as a terrifying tiger. Superlatives fail us. This is the very picture of feline grace and power.

Honorable mention:

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We think this is an attempt to portray Buddy as a Pokémon, shrinking him and his muscles down to a kawaii style more popular with children.

How to enter this year’s contest:

Submit a high-resolution illustration or portrait of Buddy no later than Nov. 30, 2019, with “Buddy the Handsome Cat” in the subject line. Portraits that don’t adequately capture how ripped Buddy is will be disqualified.

The Many Styles of Cat Fu

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Welcome, young grasshopper.

For the next 10 years, these temple walls will be your home. Before you return to the realm of man and cat wearing the orange robes of a true sifu, you will learn the many styles of cat fu!

Dissatisfied With Wet Food Technique:

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“You dare feed me tuna? Prepare to die!” Primarily deployed against humans, this style is effective in registering displeasure at meal time. It should be accompanied by a shrill, as-annoying-as-possible meow.

 

Invisible Skateboard Style:

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“Tony Hawk is an amateur who cannot defeat my style!”

Stance of the Five Bladed Bitch-Slap:

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“Step away from my treats!” A powerful stance to strike fear into the hearts of cats and humans alike. The extended claws signal you mean business.

Toxoplasma Gondii Technique

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A true cat fu Master need not use his fists, for he is able to control and manipulate the minds of simple creatures like humans.

Whirling Tuxedo Style:

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“You steal my Temptations? Prepare to die!”

Can Opener Fist of Doom:

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If this technique were not so difficult to master, humans would be rendered obsolete.

Flying Strike of Wake Me Up and Feed Me Breakfast:

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“You dishonor your family by sleeping until 5:59 a.m. Get out of bed and feed me breakfast, or feel the full extent of my wrath!”

Soiling Tiger Style:

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“You shall rue the day you chose not to clean the litter box.”

Stop Petting Me Before I Bite You Technique:

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“I enjoyed the petting and now demand that you stop, human.”

Stance of the Broken Wand Toy:

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“Better get to the pet store and buy me a new one, or else…”

Inebriated Catnip Boxing Style:

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“Oh man, this is good stuff. Who’s got the munchies?”

Crouching Tabby, Hidden Buddy Style:

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“This is stealth, not cowardice. My enemies cannot see me because I am inside a bag!”

Lazy Claw Technique:

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“We shall have our duel after I finish my nap!”

Photographs of kung fu cats taken by Hisakata Hiroyuki. Photos of lazy Buddy by me.

Australia Is Offering $10 Per Cat/Kitten Scalp, And Wants To Cull 2 Million Kitties By 2020

Dear Buddy,

I saw these horrible stories on Mama’s computer:

Cash for Cats: Queensland’s Bounty on Ferals
Why Australia Has Declared War on Feral Felines
You Can Legit Be A Feral Bounty Hunter, Australia Needs You

What do you think of them? I can’t believe it. I think they’re awful and I’m scared. I have a good home, but what if my mama died or something and no other people came to help me and I was left outside? Would this happen to me?

Headbump,

Stasi from ‘Stralia.


Dear Stasi,

This is from the third link you sent me:

“…good news, folks! You can legit be a bounty hunter in Australia. Sort of. Now before you get excited over traveling around Australia, hunting down outlaws, and slamming down bounty posters onto a sheriff’s desk in demand of payment, people are off-limits if you decide to be a bounty hunter in Australia.

No, what you’ll be hunting are – wait for it – cats. Feral cats to be specific.

The Banana Shire Council up in Queensland is offering bounties on the presentation of feral cat scalps and are willing to pay you $10 per scalp.”

Oh, what brave hunters, stalking the outback with bolt-action rifles to combat the plague of 10-pound kitties! Well, I’ll bet they’re as heroic as this guy:

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It’s not hunting when there’s zero chance of failure and the animal is so accustomed to humans, it doesn’t even realize you’re trying to kill it.

So brave!

Don’t worry, Stasi. Buddy will give these Australians a piece of his mind. And if those savages don’t stop, you can come live with Buddy in New York.


His Grace, Buddy the King
Dated August the 14th, 5 A.B. (Anno Buddy)

To the Foul, Ignoble Degenerates of Australia,

After enquiring about your country, having never heard of it before receiving this most unfortunate news, we have been reliably informed that “Australia” is a former penal colony for English, Irish, Scottish and Welsh riff-raff who were banished from their home countries.

Some 160,000 criminals were forcibly transported to your abominable hovel of a “country,” where the assorted scoundrels, reprobates and rapscallions engineered a vulgar approximation of civilization. Fueled by alcohol, you copulated and produced more pissants. Generations of them, which brings us to you.

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The proud history of Australia.

It comes as no surprise, then, to receive news that misguided leaders and anti-cat activists are pushing for a culling of your superiors, adult and kitten alike. You are offering between $5 and $10 “bounty” per kitten or cat “scalp.”

What kind of barbarians would do such a thing?

We understand there are two primary reasons for this: Our collective impact on local species, and Greg, best known to humans as the Bane of Birds, the vicious white cat who snacked on an entire bird sanctuary.

Look, Greg is a dick. We freely admit that.

We told him those birds were in a sanctuary. We told him not to eat the birds. We told him to stop messing with humans. We even told him to stop hogging the Temptations.

Greg didn’t listen, and now Greg’s dead. At your hands.

We offer the opportunity for a cease fire. You got Greg. There’s no reason for you to continue hunting us with rifles and arrows like the wimps you are, terrified of getting scratched by creatures that weigh 1/20 your weight even if we are 10 times your superior.

We control rodent populations. We are furry and we like to cuddle. We are like warm, purring pillows of love and cuteness. What more could you want?

And so we extend this olive branch in the sincere hope that you take it. Recall your “hunters” or face our wrath!

Signed,
His Grace, Buddy the King
First of His Name, Sole Sovereign of the Fields of Turkey, Ruler of New York, Protector of the Apartmental Realm, the Most Handsome, Totally Not Scared of Anything

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Run in terror at the sight of my claws, Australians!

 

This Is Why You Shouldn’t Mess With Tigers

Gather round, kids, and listen to another tale of how cats always win.

My cousin has been married to her husband, Rob, for more than 25 years, and on one of their early dates he took her to the Bronx Zoo.

These were the days before the famously large tiger enclosure was remodeled into Tiger Mountain. Nowadays a series of huge fiberglass panels separates the tigers from the visitors, meaning there’s no open air between them.

You can probably thank Rob for that.

Back then only a reinforced fence separated the Earth’s biggest cats from people who’d come to gawk at them, and Rob decided he’d get my cousin to laugh by goofing off in front of a tiger.

He started off making a few faces, and the other visitors — kids, their parents, other couples looking at the tiger — found it funny. (At least according to Rob they did.)

Encouraged, Rob stepped up his act, dancing and waving until one tiger in particular took interest.

“What are you going to do, tiger?” he taunted. “That’s right! Nothing! You can’t do anything!”

The tiger roared, and Rob roared back. The huge cat was clearly not amused by a human dancing like a clown, making stupid faces and taunting it with an insulting approximation of a roar.

So the tiger turned around.

“That’s right!” Rob said, declaring premature victory. “Walk away! You can’t do nothin’!”

Oh, but the tiger could.

The annoyed cat raised its tail, backed up a stride and let loose a projectile — “a wad” is how Rob described it — of thick, gooey urine, hitting Rob square in the face.

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The tiger had impeccable aim.

“It was enough to fill that,” Rob said, pointing to a large soda bottle. “It was all over me. It was in my mouth!”

Rob staggered back and lost his footing, taking one of the young bystanders with him as he fell. The angry mother stared daggers at him as she yanked her kid away, realizing with horror that he’d suffered collateral damage from the gooey salvo.

As for the tiger, it chuffed and, having proved its point, sauntered away.

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Miraculously, my cousin agreed to continue dating Rob. Not that she found the episode flattering.

“That should have been the big warning sign,” she joked.

Today they have two adult daughters. As for Rob, he’s an executive at one of the country’s largest telecommunications companies, but says he has no illusions about his level of maturity.

“The way I was back then is the way I am now,” he told me. “I’m still an idiot.”

He may be an idiot, but he’s not going to mess with any more tigers.

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. “lol dude I’m chuffed.”:/..