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Oakland Internet Cat Video Festival

The 2nd Annual Oakland Internet Cat Video Festival took place a little over a week ago. Large numbers of cat lovers and cat-video enthusiasts descended on a block of West Grand Avenue along The Great Wall in celebration of cats, and of course your author was there, complete with crazy-cat-lady dress and bag.

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The daytime part of the event had more of a street fair atmosphere, with numerous booths providing food and miscellaneous cat-themed products under a bright but cloudy sky. There were also numerous organizations involved in fostering and adoption of cats, including the East Bay SPCA (one of the main beneficiaries of the event) Cat Town, and Oakland-based group that finds foster and forever homes for local cats and is also opening what may be the first cat cafe in the United States!

Cat Town

Many of the organizations brought adoptable cats and kittens for viewing. We certainly hope some found homes that day.

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The celebrity rock star of the event was Li’l Bub, who was on hand for visitors to meet.

Li'l Bub

Our friend Serena Toxicat of Protea performed a feline-themed set of music for voice and electronics. Among her songs was a tribute to the manual (or Pallas Cat) with the warning not to get too close to one despite its awesomeness.

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Other daylight fun included a photo booth from the makers of 9lives cat food, inviting visitors to Instagram and tag themselves as #MorrisAndMe (and of course #catvidfest).

Finally, the sun set and the actual videos began. The videos were from a curated reel featured at the Minneapolis Cat Video Festival hosted at the Walker Art Center., and featured many familiar videos such as Henri the existential cat and Grumpy Cat, but also new discoveries.

Henri the existential cat

What makes this experience unique is not the videos themselves, which so many of us know from our time on the Internet, but the act of getting together and watching them with others, and laughing together at the cat antics.

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I am certainly looking forward to this event coming back again next year!

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San Francisco SPCA Holiday Windows, 2013

One of our favorite holiday traditions here in San Francisco is the window display at Macy’s flagship Union Square store featuring adoptable pets from the San Francisco SPCA.

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There were quite a few kittens on display, some in windows that featured a theme of holidays in the city. Some really knew how to ham it up for the visitors, like this cutie:

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They always get a good response from the public including numerous adoptions, which is of course what this event is all about. And we at CatSynth love seeing cats finding new homes.

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You can find out more about the program at the SF SPCA’s website, including visiting hours and how to donate to help the city’s homeless pets. And if you live here or you’re visiting SF this holiday season, go downtown and see the cats in person!

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Weekend Cat Blogging: SF SPCA Holiday Windows 2011

Each year, the San Francisco SPCA teams up with Macy’s in San Francisco to feature adoptable pets in the holiday window displays at their main store in Union Square.  And we at CatSynth present some of the cats that are featured in the windows and available for adoption.

The windows featured a theme this year that appeared to me as a series of gears and old machinery.  It turns out that the theme is in fact “Make a Wish” and the machinery represents a “wish factory”.  Clearly the wishes here are for loving homes for all the adoptable animals.

The program is always popular with visitors to busy Union Square.  And it has been quite successful, placing many animals in homes and raising funds for the San Francisco SPCA’s many other programs.

The holiday windows continue through January 1, with different animals rotating through each day.  If you are in San Francisco this holiday season, I encourage you to check it out.  Those who aren’t going to be in the area can still enjoy the displays via the live video feeds.

You can find out more about Macy’s SF SPCA Holiday Windows at this website, including hours, volunteer opportunities, and donation information.


Weekend Cat Blogging #341 is hosted by Billy Sweetfeets Gingersnap.

The Carnival of the Cats will be hosted this Sunday by the always hard-working Nikita and Elivra at Meowsings of an Opinionated Pussycat.

And the Friday Ark is at the modulator.

Weekend Cat Blogging: SF SPCA Holiday Windows

Every year during the holidays, San Francisco SPCA teams up with Macy’s in San Francisco to feature adoptable pets in the holiday window displays at their main store in Union Square.  For Weekend Cat Blogging, we at CatSynth present some of the cats that are featured in the windows and available for adoption.

While many of the cats go about their normal routines, this particular youngster was hamming it up for the visitors (and their cameras):

Like most holiday window displays, there is an overarching theme to the decor. This year was probably my favorite to date, as it featured scenes reminiscent of New York City during the holidays, with patches of snow on tall buildings, sidewalks and bridges. I particularly liked how the display featured this steel bridge converted into a walkway (and comfortable sleeping platform) for the cats:

At one point during my visit, one of the black kittens came over to play with the sleeping orange kitten:

The black kitten wanted to play and “make friends”, alternately batting and grooming the other one, who seemed to have no interest whatsoever. A similar scene ensued with the two older cats below the bridge, where the darker one came over and started enthusiastically grooming the lighter cat, who was less than enthusiastic about this. Nonetheless, all the antics provided an added dimension to the visit.

You can read more about the program at the official Macy’s SF/SPCA Holiday Windows site. This year, they are also provide live streaming video for those who cannot come to see the windows in person, including mobile streaming page for iPad/iPhone/iPod devices:

The SF SPCA is of course welcoming donations to support this program and all its other efforts.


Weekend Cat Blogging #289 is hosted by the tireless Nikita Cat at Meowsings of an Opinionated Pussycat.

The Carnival of the Cats will up on Sunday at When Cats Attack!

And the Friday Ark is at the modulator.

Weekend Cat Blogging #268

I had no idea what to post for Weekend Cat Blogging (I have been so focused on the performances, rehearsals and other goings on).  But while sitting on the patio this morning, I saw Luna looking up at something, and managed to get a few good pictures.  Here is one.  It is definitely worth doing the “click to enlarge” thing:

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I have no idea what she was looking at.

Yesterday on a whim I tried out the HD video feature on my camera – this camera is for still photography, so the video feature was mostly coincidental – and caught a bit of Luna scampering about.  You can hear her give one little squeak early in the video.

Behold the power of HD video to use up hundreds of megabytes of slightly shaky and blurry motion!  Also, as this an impromptu recording, the house is in the middle of normal daily use, with cat toys and the incongruous bright blue yoga mat spread out in our usually clean living room.  (Actually, the cat toys are usually scattered about.)

While on one of my long urban walks yesterday, I saw one of the mobile adoption stations set up by the San Francisco SPCA.  This one was along the Embarcadero, near the Gap company headquarters.  Lots of kittens, mostly curled up for an afternoon nap.  We certainly hope they find good homes.  The mobile adoption stations are out regularly in the summer, so if you’re in San Francisco downtown, check out their schedule and stop by.


Weekend Cat Blogging #268 is hosted by Nikita and Elvira (the new edition to their household) at Meowsings of an Opinionated Pussycat.

The Carnival of the Cats will be hosted tomorrow by Kashim, Othello and Salome.

And the Friday Ark is at the modulator.

Weekend Cat Blogging: Holiday Windows

This weekend, we present some of the cats featured in the Macy’s SF/SPCA Holiday Windows. Every year during the holidays, San Francisco SPCA teams up with Macy’s in San Francisco to feature adoptable pets in the holiday window displays at their main store in Union Square.

Here are couple of kittens in one window:

and this handsome black cat:

Many passers-by in this busy shopping district were surprised and delighted by the live animals in the displays.   We at CatSynth certainly hope that some of these animals, including the cats featured above, find new homes as a result of this program.

To find out more about the program, including when to see the animals and how you can contribute, please visit the official Macy’s SF/SPCA Holiday Windows site.


Weekend Cat Blogging #238 will be hosted by our friends at the House of the (Mostly) Black Cats.

Carnival of the Cats will be going up this Sunday at When Cats Attack!.

And of course the Friday Ark is at the modulator.

Happy Holidays!

Midnight Monday: Cat in the Window

No, this is not Luna. This black cat, featured in a holiday window display at Macy’s in San Francisco, did bear a strong resemblance.

Macy’s and the San Francisco SPCA have a longstanding program that features adoptable animals (cats and dogs) in the store’s holiday window displays. You can find more info at the San Francisco SPCA site.

Weekend events in San Francisco (Music, Art and Cats)

Another busy weekend, especially with the number of things going on. We only have time for a partial review…

First, there a quick stop at downtown pub to see some friends/colleagues. Then a rush to BART to get across the bay to Berkeley and my old stomping ground, the Center for New Music and Audio Technologies (CNMAT).

I was a few minutes late, but still had plenty of time to hear Joker Neils and Gino Robair performing a improvised duet. Robair has an amazing talent for getting electronic-like sounds out of acoustic percussion instruments, and did so again on this evening. Neils was primarily using custom synthesizers, both professional instruments as well as circuit-bent toys. We have discussed circuit bending previously here at CatSynth. He brought several well-crafted examples, including Suziki Omnichords with contact-resistance interfaces; and he also brought a tremendous enthusiasm to his performance and to his discussion of circuit bending in between sets.

Also presenting was Rob Hordijk, who designs custom synthesizers (or “works of art” as he described them). Among the technologies he employed in the “Blippobox” that he presented were chaotic oscillator pairs, where two oscillators feed back into one another to create non-linear modulation, and a filter that he called the “twin peaks” filter (presumably because it has two resonant peaks).

Amy X Newburg lent her vocal and electronic-music talents during the presentation and in the second half of the show – readers may remember her from a a recent music festival that we reviewed.

I had some interesting conversions with both Amy X Newburg and Joker Neils following the performances, which is always a nice coda to a concert.


It was another exceptionally warm weekend in San Francisco (I wouldn’t mind it becoming less exceptional), so more opportunities for walking events. First off I finally made the trip to the San Francisco SPCA to inquire about volunteer opportunities and see their much touted adoption center. The cat area featured large rooms, “kitty condos” as well as comfy areas to hide – it actually seemed on par with the “cat resorts” where I looked into boarding Luna. The SPCA is actually a short work away from CatSynth HQ (well, it’s at least short from my perspective).

Another short walk in the opposite direction from CatSynth HQ led to the Yerba Buena Gallery Walk. Open studios and gallery events are pretty regular occurrences, even within walking distance. Plus, there’s often free food and drink. I didn’t see too many things that truly interested me, except for some abstract paintings at 111 Minna that I had already seen during the first Thursday earlier this month. But that doesn’t mean the afternoon wasn’t without its attractions. Some of the galleries, such as Varnish, were in very interesting spaces, such as converted industrial buildings from the early 20th century. A view of Varnish is in the photo to the left. Additionally, some of the sights on a gallery tour aren’t the works of art, but the people viewing them – and this is even more true on a warm sunny day. Finally, I did have a delightful conversation with Jesse Allen at Chandler Fine Art – his very psychedelic/natural works aren’t what I am usually drawn to, but some of them did include abstract representations of cats and other animals and one “wild cat” in particular caught my attention.


More art on Sunday, this time photography. This Sunday was “Pinhole Photography Day” (who knew?) and the RayKo Photo center featured an exhibit, demonstrations, and most notably a ride on the Bus Obscura a school bus converted into a large camera obscura.

The bus obscura toured our South-of-Market neighborhood, providing a unique view via the pinhole-camera images. Small dots of blurry light would suddenly come into focus as a sidewalk or car or storefront.

Because the image were so localized, it wasn’t always clear exactly where the bus was, though every so often a familiar landmark would emerge. The ride was accompanied by live acoustic and electronic music, adding to the experience and making it different from the regular “tours” of our neighborhood.

Weekend Cat Events: Cats of New Orleans Revisited

We at CatSynth will continue to keep this candle lit along with Kashim and Othello and all our cat-blogging friends. Please visit them for the full list of remembrances.


This week also marked the 2nd anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. On Wednesday, we revisited my trip to New Orleans last November. I also wrote about the Cats of New Orleans, both real and imagined, and so we re-visit them this weekend.


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We also visited with the Louisiana SPCA and got a tour of their cat facilities in their temporary home, several environmentally controlled units inside a large warehouse. You can see some photos from the temporary SPCA as well. The good news is that they have completed and opened their new permanent facility. So much of the rebuilding in New Orleans has been slow or non-existent, it's good to see this success…


In addition to the Weekend of Rememberance by Kashim and Othello, the other weekend cat events are going on. Bad Kitty Cats Chaos Festival #8 as at The Mad Mirror. The Friday Ark #154 is at The Modulator. And Carnival of the Cats will be at This Blog is Full of Crap with Laurence et al.