Thursday, January 24, 2008

Cats & puns & rock & roll?

Hi, my name is Clea and I need help.

I am addicted to puns and literary references. It probably started back when my father first handed me a wooden quarter-sized disc with the letters TUIT on it. "Have you ever said you'll do something when you can get a round to it? Now you have one!" He'd smile at this point and point out the obvious: "It's a Round Tuit!" Maybe it's genetic.

The condition continued with my last nonfiction book, "The Feline Mystique," a play on "The Feminine Mystique." And I've certainly indulged it with my mysteries: "Mew is for Murder" plays (or is supposed to play) on both "Murder in the Mews" and "M is for Murder." "Cattery Row," which does in fact deal with catteries, on "Cannery Row," and my new "Cries and Whiskers" on Bergman's great "Cries and Whispers."

But, you see, now I'm having problems. I'm deep into Theda #4, and I haven't yet come up with a good title. Something that immediately says both "cat" and "great work of art" (I'm being somewhat facetious here). If it also says "murder" or "mystery," so much the better. I've been playing with "Claws of Death," or some other claws/clause pun (I'm a former copy editor). But do you have any ideas? "Gimme Shelters"? "Whisker to a Scream"? (Sadly, "Whisker of Evil" has already been used.)

Come on, how much worse can yours be? If I use yours, I'll not only send you a signed book, I'll thank you in the acknowledgments of Theda #4, Title TBA.


pablo said...

Escape Claws?

Clea Simon said...

Maybe, thanks Pablo. A bunch of "clause/claws" puns have been sent to me via email, but maybe this is the one. I'd like to find another title that refers to a great work of literature or a film, though.

I am drawn to the sound of "Bright Lights, Big Kitty," but can't really think of how to fit that to my work in process.

Clea Simon said...

OK, someone who didn't want to post here sent me a bunch privately, including the marvelous "The Sorrow and the Kitty," which I love but don't think will quite work- but that's the right idea. "Tale of Two Kitties" would work if I was focusing on two cats, but...

Anonymous said...

"Whiskers for the Prosecution"?

Can you tell who introduced me to murder mysteries?


karen said...

You sort of mentioned this one, but not the whole phrase: "From a Whisker to a Scream." Fits the murder image nicely. Will continue to think . . .

Pageturners said...

A Purrfect Murder?

Bristol said...

How about "The Scarlet Whisker"?

Or "Taming of the Mews"?

Or "Paws and Plausibility" (for an alibi)?

Now if you could just work a Northanger in there, you could have "Northanger Tabby."

I'm sorry, I love puns and this is such fun... providing I don't have to write the book to go with it!

Clea Simon said...

Hmm... some good ones, but not there yet. Remember, music is a possibility, too ("Fur Elise"? "Fur Police"? I am a police...)

Bristol said...

Well, there's always "A Little Night Mewsick"!

(I'm a country music person, alas, but there's always the new Brad Paisley;
"I want to check you for ticks."

Clea Simon said...

"I want to check you for ticks." HA!!

I'm shying away from alternative spellings (like "mewsick"). I'd like to stick to real words that evoke both cats and the original works of art.

Vicki Lane said...

Hi Clea,

The Purr and the Glory; The Cat is a Lonely Hunter; Purr Boy's Complaint;
The Great Catsby; A Handful of Kitty Litter --- okay, I'll stop now.

Clea Simon said...

"'Tis Kitty, She's a Whore" and "All's Feral in Love and War" have also come in...and I can't get "Feline Groovy" out of my head. Keep 'em coming, please!

Clea Simon said...

"The Sound and the Furry" just came in - maybe it is time to re-skim Faulkner?

Pageturners said...

Have we had Fur From The Madding Crowd?

Clea Simon said...

We haven't, yet, Pageturners. "Fur from the Madding Clowder"?

Right now, I'm leaning toward "Paws and Plausibility" or "The Sound and the Furry" (which was used by a band and also a sci-fi/fantasy book). But let's keep going with this.

Jonathan E. Quist said...

Any plot hints to prod us along?

Some of these may be rather plot-specific, but how about:
The Burmese Falcon,
The Great Catsby,
The Call of the Can Opener,
To Eat a Mockingbird,
Gone with the Litterbox,
The Scarlet Litter (eww!),
The Cat of the Red Death,
The Kit and the Pendulum or
The Felined Litter?

Pageturners said...

What about - simple and telling:


- surely a best-selling title?

David said...

"Of Mice and Musetta"?


Clea Simon said...

I've toyed with a simple, "Musetta's Waltz"

But anyway... to answer Jonathon's very reasonable request: the new book involves contaminated cat food, shelter politics ("Gimme Shelters"?), a new jazz club, and Musetta having her teeth cleaned. Oh, and Theda is going to be accused of murder.

Does that help at all?

Caroline said...

I'm terrible at puns, but I find all this hilarious!

Jonathan E. Quist said...

Hmmm... My dad has an old Columbia 78rpm disc titled "Scrub Me, Mama with a Boogie Beat".

That reference might be a little too obscure. D'ya think?

How about Cool Cats in The Jungle?

Yeah. Me neither. Back to my slate and soapstone.

Bristol said...

Okay, one last one... for tonight... I hope.

Rhapody in Mew

Bristol said...

Well, it would have been better if it had the "s" in it...
Rhapsody in Mew

(Mocha, take your paw off the keyboard... okay, now take your claw out of my knee. . .)

theaeacus said...

for whom the cat(s) meow?

theaeacus said...

For whom the tabby meows?
I seem to have a one track mind.

theaeacus said...

If not
A Little Night Mewsick
Then perhaps
a little cat music?

Glenda said...

Claws And Effect

Clea Simon said...

Sadly, "Claws and Effect" has been used recently. Great title, though. I just tried "Hiss and Tell" on my husband and his immediate response was "too negative." Too negative? Sheesh.

One of these will work.

Jonathan E. Quist said...

Unfortunately, "A Tail of Two Kitties" has also been used recently.

How about a Hollywood reference, like "The Cook, the Thief, His Cat & Her Liver"?

david said...

Well, since the plot calls for Theda to be arrested (right?), how about "Collared"?

Clea Simon said...

I like them all!

Am now leaning toward either

"The Sound and the Furry"


"Hiss of Death"

Any thoughts on these?

Glenda said...

Not crazy about either one, to be truthful. BRIGHT LIGHTS, BIG KITTY is great. We are talking about cozy, here, right? Some of the titles don't sound as cozy as they should. As for "Collared" maybe this could be added to somehow since it works for series and plot?

Clea Simon said...

cozy - but dark cozy. I wonder if "bright lights, big kitty" has been used?

Jonathan E. Quist said...

A Google of "Bright Lights, Big Kitty" reveals that it has been used, but none of them appear to be conflicting uses.


Clea Simon said...

Plus, it makes me smile. But does it make any sense?

Bristol said...

It does to me! I've had a couple of kitties who went nuts for flashlight beams. Especially one. Most cats like laser lights, too.

Jonathan E. Quist said...

I had one cat who, on summer mornings, would come and sit near my chair during breakfast. She'd sit patiently, and then start break-dancing around the room.

Eventually, we figured out what she had figured out: In the summer, between 6:30 and 7:00 in the morning, the light would shine in the kitchen window at just the right angle to reflect off the metal face of my wristwatch and play across the middle of the kitchen floor.

Towards the end of her life, rendered less active by a bout of vestibular syndrome, she indeed became a big kitty, but she still liked to play with the bright lights.

Marie said...

The Kitty that never sleeps
Not for love or kitty
not for cat or money
the cat and the restless

deseng said...

How about "From Murder to Musetta"
From Here to Eternity
"Slay it with Whiskas"
"Meow's the Word" for Mum's the Word
"Swiped Alibi, Tainted Kitty"
O.k. these are pretty terrible. I was laughing so much at the other ones so I thought I would have fun!

Good Luck!
Michele L.

Pageturners said...

A Saucer of Milk for Table 13

Bristol said...

Okay, I thought of another one:

Cry, the Beloved Kitty

except I'm afraid they'd think the kitty was named "Cry.'

Jonathan, I loved your story about your kitty. We had one, Nicky, who used to come in and race about the kitchen every morning. It took us awhile to figure out that he was watching the sunlight reflecting off the fridge door as it was opened and shut-- it only worked in the morning. He was the one I referred to earlier, who loved chasing the flashlight beam. He was an odd-eyed white part Persian and we think he was deaf on the blue-eyed side. He could hear; we just were never sure how well. He was fascinated by light, though.

amyshojai said...

How about "Tin Can Alley Cat"

Hey Clea, saw you over at RedRoom (me too, now!).

Clea Simon said...

Hi Amy (and everyone else)

Bristol - maybe he could hear perfectly well... but chose not to acknowledge everything he heard?

Clea Simon said...

Hi folks - I'm now leaning toward "Probable Claws," which was submitted by both Phil Mann and Rob Chalfen, independently.

Anonymous said...

How about Clawst and Found?
Or Claw and Order?
Clawful Behavior?
Maybe Totally Clawsome.

I love claws.


Catleigh said...