NOTE: This post is cross-listed with one on my other blog, Not Enough Concerts.
In the spirit of living my best solo life, I decided to take a two-day trip to Baltimore since I have the time “off” during the summer. Friday was spent walking the city, enjoying its crab cakes, and being dazzled by the unconventional artwork at the American Visionary Art Museum. But the real reason for the trip was meeting fellow CoSPer Heather for the Acrocats show, that event where cats do cool tricks like jumping through hoops, walking on balance beams, and even playing instruments!
After hopping the #56 bus to Highlandtown (which seems like the cultural hub of Baltimore), enjoying an Italian sub at DiPasquale’s, I walked over to High Grounds Coffee Roasters, where I did another thing I intended: distributed a few flyers for my coaching business. I had a nice conversation with an older gentleman named Wiley, who asked if I helped with things like ancient writing. I gave him my pitch wherein I tell people I coach the individual writer and what that writer needs, and he revealed he was a student of ancient writing. Very cool.
After reading my newest literary acquisition, Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime, and writing in my journal for a bit, I met up with Heather and her friend Missy at the venue, where we look at the cool merch. I acquired an Acrocats bumper sticker for my amplifier, as well as some treats that can help with my cat/son Chester’s hairballs. Missy and I did what all cat owners do when they meet each other in this digital age: show off our cat pics. She also referred to the event as a “catcert,” which I found delightful.
The cat puns continued as the event’s emcee started with an “ameowncement” greeting “Baltimeow.” The soundtrack consisted of cat-related songs like The Cure’s “The Love Cats,” Tom Jones’s “What’s New Pussycat?” and Ted Nugent’s “Cat Scratch Fever.” I would have also loved “Eye of the Tiger” and “China Cat Sunflower,” but I guess you can’t have everything.
When mice were brought out, my first thought was, “They’d better not have the cats chase them around!” And they didn’t; they just walked the balance beams. We were also treated to some antics from a rooster named Cluck Norris.
The emcee gave some explanation on how the trainers get the cats to do their bidding via the use of clickers. That, and a lot of patience. In fact, her line “nothing teaches you humility like trying to train a cat in front of a live audience” stuck with me.
Tricks that stuck out included the following (I was writing too quickly to remember most of the names):
My favorite was when a white cat named Tuna walked into the audience and eventually headbutted me. Of course, I kept saying “Hellwoooo Chester” under my breath because, again, I associate all cute things with little Chester. Plus I just like to act weird.
The highlight, of course, was the Rock Cats, their band. “Tuna, more cowbell!” was a common request from the trainers. I’m pretty sure I heard “Bad Romance” on sax from Oz, and “Careless Whisker” appeared as well. Bowie rocked out on drums, Nue took us to the 1980s with the synthesizer, Sookie played those chimes like a champ, Buggles emerged from her high perch to play some trumpet.
One line of note. The emcee revealed that she fosters most of these cats. She said, “I won’t say how many cats I have but I am single and probably always will be.” I felt some subdued, awkward laughter from a few members, but mostly silence. I’m not sure how I feel about that self-deprecating humor, which really plays into the stereotype, but then again, I do try to subvert it though my “crazy single cat male” persona, so there you go.
At any rate, it was a fun time, and thanks to Heather’s astute observational skills, I found a place to put more flyers for my business. Of course, I was missing Chester, and was ecstatic to come home and do my thing where I pick him and give him endless kisses. And, of course, some Netflix and chill.
I must say the preview of Kevin Can F*** Himself intrigued me. A twist of the classic type of sitcom with the buffoonish husband as protagonist with demure wife as foil (think All in the Family, The Honeymooners).
Annie Murphy, who, up until this point, I knew as the ditzy Alexis Rose on Schitt’s Creek, plays Alison McRoberts the long-suffering housewife of Kevin, who personifies the archetype of the dumb husband. Whenever he’s on screen, usually accompanied by his father, Pete, and less intelligent neighbor Neil (which isn’t really saying much), the show is brightly lit in the multi-camera 90s-sitcom style, and includes that classic “laugh track” feature.
However, when these stereotypical males disappear, we transgress to a single-camera style, and the screen turns dark, as does the story. Without giving too many spoilers, Alison dreams of a better life, a life where she’s more than just “Kevin’s husband,” and it turns out that some of Kevin’s antics that make for a good sitcom storyline have a much darker impact on Annie’s life (like putting sugar in the gas tank of Alison’s boss, and subsequently getting Alison fired from a job that seemed to give her a send of purpose). Accompanied by her jaded, taciturn neighbor Patty (Neil’s sister), she decides she can only do one thing: kill her husband and enjoy the freedom to sit in a café with a book, a scone, and some peace. How many trapped wives have enjoyed that fantasy (and even some husbands for that matter)?
The show does a pretty neat thing with that classic “family sitcom” structure by twisting it on his head, but it also provides some commentary on marriage. I don’t know how many actual marriages resemble the sitcom union (I suspect many, given how many women I hear about on CoSP talk about being “mother” to an ex-husband), but the show does take a few pokes at the institution. In one scene, Alison complains to her aunt/boss at the liquor store where she works about her marriage, and her aunt responds with an anecdote about how she hid a foot injury so she could wear heels to titillate her husband. She concludes with, “That’s marriage.” Even though it’s television, I was sad to hear that statement.
(SPOILER ALERT) At one point later in the season, Alison begins an affair with her former high school flame, Sam, and she ponders running away with him, but he points out, “You’ve never stood on your own.” It’s a true statement. She stopped going to school because Kevin told her it was a waste of time; she also rarely drives because Kevin tells her she’s a bad driver. Part of the show is a female empowerment tale in which she comes to realize she can be a whole person.
There’s a parallel story as well: Patty, the neighbor, has been “one of the guys” as part of Kevin’s crew, but she feels dissatisfaction at her role of having to put up with her brother Neil’s antics (usually influenced by Kevin). Initially, she regards Alison as a “Barbie” but over time, she gradually develops a respect and affinity for her and her situation.
The movie’s last scene, which I won’t spoil here, is a masterpiece, in which the single-camera setup and multi-camera setups merge. I’ll only be curious as to how they can maintain the storyline in Season Two.
Kevin can F*** Himself is essentially telling sitcom views of marriage to go f*** itself. Perhaps it could continue societal trends in telling marriage itself to go f*** itself? Only time will tell.
My name is Craig. I'm an educator, writer, and unapologetic singleton. When not reading, writing, or teaching, I enjoy hiking, running, watching movies, going to concerts, spending time with friends, and playing with my cat/son, Chester.