Behemoth is the original Salem

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Via @shy.witch.yk

According to Ernest Hemingway’s memoir A Moveable Feast, [which I haven’t read – so maybe this isn’t a fact at all. Maybe someone’s just told me this to make me look like a dickhead – like in Seinfeld when Elaine thought the original title for War and Peace was War? What is it Good For?] Hemingway would regularly let his cat, F. Puss, babysit his firstborn infant son. As in, he’d leave the baby alone in his French apartment with F. Puss in the playpen as company. His faith in the cat to be a reliable guardian was touching. But the kid lived, so maybe Hemingway should’ve written a parenting book all along!

Anyway hearing this little fun fact got me thinking about Salem from Sabrina the Teenage Witch (the 1990s, cleary-a-puppet, cheeky little trash-talking Salem; not the crappy reboot one that doesn’t talk and is definitely a real cat). Because if I had to choose a trustful cat to keep an eye on a human baby for a few hours, I’d pick Salem – even though he would likely make a few cutting quips refusing to do it.

For those who’ve forgotten, Salem (aka the reason every girl round about my age, wanted a black cat growing up) was a 500 year old warlock, trapped in the body of a cat for 100 years – as punishment for his failed attempt at world domination.

He was pure evil, but we’re all willing to forgive him (and accept him as a prospective babysitter), because he’s sarcastic and clever. Plus all cats naturally give off a slightly evil and snooty vibe; so an imagined reality where a cat can talk and has a human personality feels more realistic with that cat being a bit of a loveable shithead.

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Via @salemthecatfanpage

Salem’s literature equivalent would be Behemoth from Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita – a fellow talking black cat, who struts around the Russian streets, as part of the Devil’s posse, wearing an adorable bow-tie and bowler hat.

Written in the 1930s, and published 26 years after Bulgakov’s death, The Master and Margarita (which I’ve talked about previously in The Name Game post) is a dark comedy about the devil (who goes by the name Woland) taking over an apartment in Moscow with his buddies, and wreaking havoc across the atheist city.

Like Salem, mischievous Behemoth is known on occasion to take human form* and to drop witticisms into the conversation, such as, “I’d rather be a tram conductor and there’s no worse job than that” (where he’s clearly still holding a grudge about being kicked off a tram at the book’s beginning).

Behemoth is the size of a pig, and tends to be in the background with a vodka in hand, sunbathing at the windows of the apartment and being told to shut-up by the rest of the gang.

His hobbies include chess and arson, and without giving too much away (because you really should read it, it’s pretty wicked), my personal favourite Behemoth moment is that he can make a showdown between himself and a group of armed Moscow police, look effortless – and even make the time to be a wise-ass and pretend they’ve successfully shot him.

While Salem may not share Behemoth’s impressive size, they definitely have enough in common that if their paths did ever cross they would make tight drinking buddies. And on reflection, I’d only trust Salem to babysit if he swore not to invite Behemoth over (cause that little shit would raid your liquor cabinet no question).

[*and like Salem, the reader later learns Behemoth was a human whose cat form is a punishment.]

Valuable Life Lessons from Elaine Benes

I figure because Seinfeld beauty, Elaine Benes, worked in publishing, this is a good enough excuse to list some of the gems she’s taught me over the years. I wanna show my reverence for this gorgeous babe with the wall of hair – and prove that all those hours watching Seinfeld were definitely not a waste of time (how can they be if I got an education from it, right?!). [Also that cover photo is the David Puddy statue I have on my bedside table– yes I’m that kind of fan: ‘you gotta question? you ask the eight ball’]

  1. How to dance like a diamond
  2. The importance of making sure your nipple isn’t exposed on your Christmas card
  3. If somebody cannot spare a square when you’ve run out of toilet paper its very important to get your revenge
  4. Pez dispensers are funny as fuck
  5. War & Peace was not originally going to be called ‘War what is it good for?’
  6. The importance of being sponge-worthy
  7. The top of the muffin is the best bit
  8. If someone doesn’t offer you pie you should dump them
  9. If you’re trying to keep a secret don’t drink peach schnapps
  10. The Urban Sombrero is the height of fashion
  11. Sometimes being described as ‘breathtaking’ isn’t a good thing
  12. Everyone in the city should wear nametags
  13. If someone doesn’t use explanation points you should dump them
  14. Don’t buy jujyfruits on the way to the hospital
  15. To be very suspicious if a man says he has to be ‘up early’
  16. If you don’t like someone’s toupee throw it out the window
  17. It’s really hard to talk to someone if they have a goutier
  18. If you’re trying to avoid talking to a taxi driver don’t pretend to be deaf cause they might catch you hearing

Seriously though, in my opinion she was one of the best written female characters in comedy. She’s also a bit of a style icon to me and I love how ballsy she was, how if she had an opinion she was never afraid to say it loudly, and in all honesty a small part of me was inspired to study publishing in the first place to be a bit more like her.