Friday, April 29

I talk to my dog.

I admit it. I talk to my dog.

People who don't have dogs think this is a foolish exercise. Experts will tell you that dogs can't understand your words, just your tone. These are the same people who will tell you that a baby only smiles because it has gas.

I happen to know that my dog has a vocabulary of 10 words. "Spike" (his name), "kibble", "biscuit", "chicken", "cookie", "meat" (I see a pattern here), "mommy" (his one true love), "daddy" (whom he tolerates), "sit" (his only trick), and, for some reason, "Chaucer". He understands and responds to these words as distinctly as you or I.

Talking to a dog is a liberating experience. Spike listens intently and never judges what I have to say. He does yawn on occasion, but I accept that not as a commentary on the content of our conversation but as a sign of his comfort with our relationship.

Conversation with Spike is not just a one-way street, either. He talks back. Not with words but with gestures, noises, looks, and posture. For example every night after dinner he will sit on the floor next to the sofa and wait for me to scratch behind his ear. If, for some reason, I don't begin in a timely manner he will poke me with his paw. "Hey, you. It's scratching time." If I fail to respond, the poking gets more intense. "I SAID it's scratching time." Then he'll move back a bit to be sure I have a good view and plop down on the floor with a pained expression ("I am a sad, sad dog.")

Lately we've been having talks about why I have to leave him in the morning to go to work.

"Spike", I'll say, "daddy has to go to work."

"I am a sad, sad dog."

"But Spike, I must work to make money."

"How can you be so cruel?"

"So I can buy..."

"Please...don’t leave me."


" 'Wenden thee then on thine pilgrymage, Sire .' "

"Was that by any chance Chaucer?"

"In truthe, woof, woof."

Thursday, April 28

Re: The Clairvoyant Film

In commenting on my recent post The Clairvoyant Film eponymous blogger blogblogblog had this to say:

“You're going to dog a film that badly and not save us the $20 by telling us the name of it?”

Well, blog3, yes, I am and no, I'm not.

I'm reluctant to lead you to avoid a film that, for all I know, you might like. You might feel it was $20 well spent. Who am I to say?

My Aunt Peg, for example, loves this kind of movie. She’ll happily sit there and predict scene after scene and then say how much she enjoyed it. I, being cynical and jaded, find such a movie to be an object of derision and mockery. But that's just me.

Then I have the utter gall to put my views on the Internet where they will be exposed to millions, even billions, of people - and not even reveal the name of the film.

What kind of a sick bastard am I?

Full disclosure: On that millions and billions thing - okay, right now my blog hit-count is 81, but who knows what might happen?

Tuesday, April 26

The United States Government Tells You How Much Exercise You Need

I read in the paper that the Department of Health has new recommendations for how much daily exercise is needed to maintain proper health. They recommend that the typical American adult spend anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes a day exercising. I don't know about you, but the chances of me exercising for 90 minutes a day are not good, government or no government.

I suspect the sneaker lobby had something to do with these recommendations. I can just imagine some former Congressman (now representing the National Foot Council) cornering a Health Department official in a cloakroom.

“So, Deputy Sub-Secretary for Exercise Guidelines, how was your ten day, all expenses paid trip to the National Foot Council's "Foot-a-rama" in the Bahamas? Were you able to determine how much exercise each and every American citizen is required to perform each and every day in order to maintain his or her precious health?”

“Yes, I was. Surprisingly, it turns out that three and a half minutes a day of aimless meandering is all that is needed.”

“Yes, yes, we already knew that. But perhaps you are forgetting the brand new, fully loaded, BMW Sedan that is sitting in your driveway right now. Wouldn’t that affect your estimate of the amount of running, jogging, or speed walking that is necessary for the typical American adult?”

“No, not really. In fact those activities can cause knee trauma and lead to osteoporosis.”

“Of course they do, but this solid gold Rolex watch suggests that these problems can be avoided if the right footwear is chosen, right?”

“It actually would be better for everyone if they just went barefoot all the time.”

"That's ridiculous. Can you imagine what it would be like if everyone went barefoot all the time? What about all that broken glass and those rusty nails in the street? People would cut their feet to shreds."

"Yes, I was worried about that too. Then the lobbyist I was talking to this morning explained how that would actually be a good thing."

"What lobbyist?"

"The guy from the American League of Tetanus Shot Providers."

Friday, April 22

The Clairvoyant Film

Last night I saw the kind of film I call The Clairvoyant Film. This is a film where the people watching have the uncanny ability to predict what is going to happen.

Sometimes this is after-the-fact clairvoyance, as in "I knew he was the killer", and sometimes it is precognitive clairvoyance, as in "it's going to turn out she's pregnant" or "that's not really his brother". Other times it is just common sense clairvoyance. When Agent Jack Bauer and Agent Joe Schmo go after the terrorists, you know Agent Schmo better have his life insurance paid up.

The film my wife and I saw last night was a particularly egregious example of The Clairvoyant Film. People in the audience were actually shouting out predictions: “Her mother will never let her marry him”, “She kept those letters, I know she did”, “They’ll both be dead in the morning”.

As we were leaving the theater my wife turned and said to me, "Well, there's twenty bucks down the drain."

I knew she was going to say that.

Thursday, April 21


Often in a comic book or graphic novel I'll see a character that is experiencing intense pain, or possibly falling to their death, scream out. This scream appears in the dialog balloon as “Arrrrggghhhh!” You can vary the number of r's, g's, and h's but the general tone is "Arrrrggghhhh!" The trouble is I have never actually heard anyone utter the sound “Arrrrggghhhh!” except in an ironic way. As in “Joe, we have to work late tonight”. “Oh no. And I’ve got Mets tickets. Arrrrggghhhh!”

I wonder how the word “Arrrrggghhhh” came to represent the sound one makes when experiencing intense pain, falling to their death, or having Mets tickets? I’m sure there are an infinite number of shouts, gurgles, or moans made by those experiencing intense pain or falling to their death, yet somehow we have settled on “Arrrrggghhhh!”

“Arrrrggghhhh!” is now a part of our Collective Inarticulate Vocabulary.

Well, if “Arrrrggghhhh!” is the best we can do, I have only one thing to say.


Tuesday, April 19

Rod Stewart

Those of you who read my post Dressing for Rod know that I went the a Rod Stewart concert a few nights ago. Loyal reader Lizinsr asks "So was Rod great?"

Well, Lizinsr, it was just the best concert I've ever seen. He sang the old songs, and then he sang the real old songs. He started with "Forever Young" while pictures of the young Rod flashed behind him, then went into "I wish that I knew what I know now when I was younger" and that set the tone. He went through a good portion of his 70's and 80's catalog and just rocked the place. His band sounded great and the backup singers, saxaphone player, and violinist were outstanding.

After intermission he did several selections from the recent American Songbook collection, but not too many, maybe 7 or 8. That was great, but I was happy when I saw the guitar players put down their jazz acoustics and pick up their rockin' electrics, and when the violinist grabbed a mandolin and struck the opening of Maggie May the place went crazy. He closed with several more newer old songs and at the end we were all on our feet jumping for the soccer balls (autographed, it turned out) that he kicked into the audience.

It was a great, great concert. Thanks for asking, Lizinsr.

Now I see Paul McCartney and the Rolling Stones will be touring in the fall. Hey, if we can get Peter and Gordon and the Dave Clark Five out there too, then we'll really have something

Monday, April 18

Retro Pop Quiz V

Who said it?

" If you can remember anything about the sixties, you weren't really there. "

Sunday, April 17

Help Desk

The other day I had to call the help desk of my cell phone manufacturer because of a technical glitch I was having.

A young man with the musical accent of South Asia came on the line. "Hello, this is Rick. How can I help you?" To my shame I must admit he didn't much sound like a "Rick". Maybe a "Sanjay" or “Mammooty”, but not a "Rick".

I explained my problem and he was very helpful, giving me detailed instructions on how to reset my ringer, which I had accidentally turned off. “Do not feel badly. This happens with great frequency”, he said patiently.

“Well, thank you ‘Rick’”, I chuckled.

“Why do you laugh at my name?” He sounded offended.

“Sorry. It’s just that with that accent, you don’t sound like a ‘Rick’”. I tried to put a wink in my voice.

He didn’t seem to hear my wink. “Well, sir…” he began angrily, suddenly changing his accent to that of a Louisiana senator “… if ah talked lahk this would y’all feel bettuh!”

“No, of course not.” I was flustered. “I, I, I believe all men are created equal, regardless of color, creed, or condition of linguistical inflection.”

He returned to his original tone. “I do not believe ‘linguistical’ is a word, sir.”

“Yes, well, thank you, Rick” (no wink or chuckle this time). “You’ve been really helpful”.

“It was nothing, sir. And remember, if you have any more problems…Y’all come back now, y’hear.”

Thursday, April 14

Dressing for Rod

I’m going to a Rod Stewart concert and I’m having trouble deciding what to wear. Do I dress for the recent “As Time Goes By” Rod (tight pants, loose tie, coat thrown over the shoulder); the “Hot Legs” Rod (tight pants, silk shirt, fringed scarf); or the “Maggie May” Rod (tight pants, book-bag, tardy slip)?

I can remember having the same issues back in the Do-Your-Own-Thing-Sixties, not knowing how to dress for The Kinks or Crosby, Stills and Nash. Back then Do-Your-Own-Thing meant Find-Out-What-Everyone-Else-Is-Wearing (tie-die shirt, bell bottom jeans, Beatle boots). I claimed to be a non-conformist, but really I just wanted to impress the chicks.

In a lot of ways I’m probably more of a non-conformist in my Fifties than I was in my Twenties. I’ve certainly given up on being “cool” any time soon. I'm not a rebel. Occasionally I have a cause. I like golf. I drive a Buick.

And I can afford to pay $200 to see Rod Stewart. That’s $100 for me and $100 for my chick.

Tuesday, April 12

I saw a word in the New York Times

I saw a word in the New York Times today and I didn't know what it meant:


I looked it up in the dictionary:


"1. Warm, glowing praise."
"2. A formal expression of praise; a tribute. "

I used it in a sentence:

"If I ever get through The New York Times without having to check the dictionary, let the encomium begin."

Sunday, April 10

Gay thoughts

I cannot tell if a man is gay just by looking at him. I don't just mean the swarthy banker or scruffy truck driver who's gay. I mean for years I thought The Village People were a bunch of guys with good voices making interesting wardrobe choices.

This causes great consternation among my friends who are more attuned to sexual orientation than I. I'll go on and on about when is so-and-so going to settle down and get married and they will look at me as if I were a child and explain the facts to me.

I must say I take a certain guilty pride in my ignorance. After all, isn’t that what this country is all about? Accepting people for what they are and not judging them. The term “color blind” is used to describe people who exhibit no racial bias, but there is no term for someone who is blind to sexual orientation. “Gay blind” doesn’t sound right and “sexual orientation blind” sound pretty clinical.

How about “no queer eye for this straight guy"? I don’t know if that sounds so good, either. I'll have to check with my gay friends. If I can figure out who they are.

One thing I do know, though. Liberace? Nice teeth for a piano player.

Thursday, April 7

Tanning beds

There was an item on the news the other day saying the state assembly was considering a law that would prevent teenagers from using tanning salons. Apparently tanning beds can be dangerous if used improperly, and teens have trouble following the safety guidelines. Teenagers have trouble following rules? Stop the presses.

The story went on to say that even if the law doesn’t pass, at least it might encourage parents to talk about tanning bed use with their children. But after having The Talk about sex and The Talk about drugs I don’t know if I’m up to another Talk with my teenage son.

“Son, we have to talk about the dangers of tanning bed use.”

“Dad, you are such a hypocrite. You know you did tanning beds when you were my age.”

“Maybe I did, but tanning beds weren’t as potent then. Today’s tanning bed is 100 times more potent than they were in my day. And it’s expensive. Where are you going to get the money to support your habit?”

“They give you a free trial session to see if you like it.”

“Sure, that’s what they say. ‘Hey, kid. The first one’s free. C’mon, only the squares get hooked.’ Next thing you know you can’t get through the day without a visit to the 'Bronze Lady'. And government tests have proven that tanning beds can lead to other activities.”

“What other activities?”

“You know what I’m talking about. Health food. Pedicure. Yoga. Son, please don’t let this tanning thing get you.”

“Dad, I hear what you’re saying and I respect your opinion. But I have to make my own decisions.”

“Alright, son. But if you must use a tanning bed, for God’s sake do one thing for me."

"What's that, Dad?"

"Use a condom.”

“Okay, Dad.”

“Preferably one that blocks UV rays.”


“And no wheat grass juice.”

“Gotta go, Dad.”

Tuesday, April 5


I was walking my dog and, out of boredom, I thought we might try a different route. We found ourselves passing Doctor's Hospital, a small neighborhood medical center I hadn’t been around in quite some time. I was always amused by the redundancy of the name, wondering if there was also a Lawyer's Court or a Banker's Savings and Loan. Still, I had many - I won't say fond, but interesting - memories of this place.

When my father, visiting from California, got food poisoning from some questionable shellfish, this was the emergency room we rushed to. When I fell in a snow bank while chasing a bus this is where I had my meniscus ‘scoped. And during a recent blackout, this was the only place where you could find a flushable toilet.

There was a fence of large, blue planks surrounding the place. "Must be renovating", I thought but my heart sank as I looked through a hole in the fence and saw only a pile of rubble. They had torn down my hospital!

I am used to the changing architecture that is common in any urban center. I've seen a favorite news stand replaced by an upscale coffee shop. I've seen an inexpensive ethnic restaurant replace by an upscale ice cream shop. I've seen a barber shop offering $12 haircuts replaced by an upscale fingernail painting concern. These things I have seen and I have accepted. But a hospital is one of those buildings I don't think of as transitory. Like a church or historic government building, a hospital should stand for a thousand years. My God, if they can tear down a hospital, what's next? St. Patrick's Cathedral?

I'm eager to see what replaces the hospital. Maybe a Starbucks Medical Center offering blood pressure tests for three sizes of patients - Tall, Grande, and Humongo. Perhaps a Pinky's Nails and Surgical Suite offering the Gall-Bladder-Surgery-And- French- Tips combo. Or the Cold Stone Creamery Hospice where the feeding tube includes your choice of toppings.

Someday I hope to see an upscale coffee shop replaced by an upscale nail shop. That will be the beginning of the end of civilization as we know it.

Monday, April 4

Retro Pop Quiz III

Who said it?

"The policeman isn t there to create disorder; the policeman is there to preserve disorder."

Saturday, April 2

Previosly on...

My favorite part of any television program is at the beginning when they do that "Previously on..." part. If it weren’t for "Previously on 24”, I'd never know what's going on.

I wish I had "Previously on..." for my life. Each morning when I woke up I could refresh my memory with a quick review of important things that have happened in past episodes.

"Previously on your life:
  • "Your wife informed you that the light bulb in the kitchen needs replacing - and you didn't to do it."
  • "That big project your boss wants done by Monday - you haven't started it yet."
  • "Your tax preparer is waiting for you to get your records together."
  • "You are stuck on level 11 in Half Life 2."

Okay, that last one may explain the other three.