Saturday, September 30, 2017

Calypso Fred.

Calypso music? Not really my thing. I know you're astonished. I hate to say it, but Mel Brooks was probably my favorite folk and calypso singer.

Harry Belafonte, although born in New York City, is credited for popularizing calypso music in this country, and I say: good job. I'm not a fan; Belafonte seems to be unable to let go of any of the resentments or angers of his youth, and seems to hate everything about his native country except its money. Then again, he did appear on The Muppet Show, so that's something.

In the postwar era, Americans fell in love with calypso music, and perhaps that can be seen as patronizing, but I think it ties in with a longstanding love for foreign and exotic places, for music that takes us away from our humdrum duties. The Tin Pan Alley days were full of phony-baloney exotica like that. The stuff we were getting from Belafonte and others was the real thing.

Or was it? The most well known song may not even be calypso -- "Yellow Bird," or "Choucoune" in its original, was Haitian Creole, says Wikipedia; does that count? Calypso music is associated with Trinidad and Tobago. Belafonte covered "Yellow Bird," so maybe the song is okay. Probably for the majority of Americans it is music from someplace sunny off the coast, so it could be Polynesian for all we know. I said that we love exotic music, not that we're knowledgeable about it.

"Yellow Bird," of course, always makes me think of a scene from A. C. Weisbecker's novel Cosmic Banditos. In the book, one of the drug-smuggling bandits, Robert, is known to fall into a rage anytime he hears that song. One day in a bar the steel drum band starts playing it, and he loses his mind:
Suddenly a grenade appeared in Robert's hand. He pulled the pin with his teeth and lobbed it toward the band. It was a good throw. The grenade clattered around in one drum, bounced into another, rolled around the rim like a roulette ball, then came to rest in the bottom of the instrument....
The explosion was in B-flat. 
I do not, fortunately, share the low opinion of "Yellow Bird," alienated though I am by temperament from the music of the islands. Despite this, however, one morning I was inspired to write a calypso song, even though I am so white I am nearly transparent. You might say that me writing a calypso song is cultural appropriation, but let's be honest: no culture would want it. Anyway, anyone who wants to appropriate my culture is more than welcome.

I call my song: "Gnarly Banana":

Gnarly Banana

by Freddie Keys

Once we all grow fruit variety
Now Musa balbisiana is all you see
Everybody grow it as fast as he can
The only exception is the gnarly man

Chiquita guy say to the gnarly man
Dump your banana in the garbage can
American prefer banana soft and sweet
But gnarly banana taste like sweaty feet

The gnarly banana come from gnarly man
The gnarly banana it is artisan
The gnarly banana it is soft as rocks
The gnarly banana taste like dirty socks

Gnarly man say you can go to hell
I think all me gnarly fruit is really swell
Me grandfather raise it from seed to bloom
Until we have to send him to the rubber room


Many years later there's a Bezos guy
Seeking weird produce that he can buy
He ask, is organic? and gnarly say sure
He say we will sell it in the Whole Foods store

Now Brooklyn hipsters chew the gnarly treat
Gnarly man gets richer every time they eat
They force banana down with a gnarly grin
Then they go out riding on a vintage Schwinn

Chorus, repeat until someone throws a grenade.

Friday, September 29, 2017

What I learned from movies.

🎥 Children are more intelligent than adults, and more resourceful

🎥 A clever child can beat an experienced adult man in combat

🎥 So can a woman--any woman

🎥 Picking a fight is a great way to resolve family problems; screaming at each other is healthy

🎥 More men died as a result of Joe McCarthy than as a result of Pickett’s Charge

🎥 All authority is corrupt, except for vigilantes (who willfully break the law)—especially if they wear costumes

🎥 Everyone decent person in the past, in any era or location, secretly believed in the exact same things Hollywood in the 21st century believes in, or would agree if they knew about them

🎥 DNA can be identified within an hour by any city police force

🎥 Silencers silence guns so they sound like a flea fart

🎥 You can do everything better when you’re angry

🎥 Fast hammering on a keyboard is the best way to hack networks

🎥 Girls will and ought to sleep with you on the first date unless you're a catastrophic loser

🎥 Crazy people are more knowledgeable, perceptive, and wise than noncrazy people

🎥 Drinking continuously makes you fun and doesn't hamper your activities, especially if it's important

🎥 Drugs, either

🎥 And you can sober up enough to perform surgery or something with just a slap on the face and a bucket of water

🎥 Any difficult task can be accomplished quickly with a pop tune and a montage

🎥 The capture of vicious criminals is best accomplished by rogue cops working alone or with one faithful partner

🎥 And may involve the destruction of large amounts of public property

🎥 Best friends and lovers start by hating each other, every time

Thursday, September 28, 2017

The Menu (sixth grade).

Stick tongue to frozen flagpole - $3
Place tongue on frozen flagpole to see if it sticks

Tell Jenny Firbinks you like her - $2
A heartfelt expression of your fondness for the cutest girl in sixth grade,
delivered with subtlety and wit

Eat a bug - $2.50
Watch as a largish bug from the recess yard is chewed and consumed, possibly with the addition of a packet of the bogus non-brand-name ketchup from the cafeteria

Yell out an F-bomb during third-period Social Studies - $2
Entertain the class with a hilarious, loud, and unexpected effenheimer, enlivening the coverage of the Crimean War and making Ms. Schneez so mad you can see the hairs on her mole tremble

Tell Elton Wangenstein that he’s a fat greasy toad bastard - $4
Inform the most dangerous man in sixth grade of his personal shortcomings on your behalf, with your name withheld for safety purposes

Forge a note from your mom or your doctor - $5
Risk suspension on your behalf by forging a note to explain your absence or lack of completed assignment, using superior penmanship and real grown-up-type stationery

Superglue Max Hock’s ass to a chair - $6
Risk suspension on your behalf by committing the ultimate practical joke on menacing Max Hock, who beat you up in the locker room a week ago and who has it coming (and used to pick his nose and eat it in the first grade, you know he did)

Jump off a roof - $8
No more than two stories—service can be offered to test that parachute you claimed to have made from an old twin bed sheet

Steal Jenny Firbanks’s bra from the girls’ locker room - $10
A delicate and dangerous operation, requiring stealth and cunning, but oh what a reward
—half of fee must be paid up front

Wednesday, September 27, 2017


Language warning.

Investor Peter Lynch famously said, "Go for a business that any idiot can run -- because sooner or later, any idiot probably is going to run it." That would appear to be the current state of play for the National Football League, an organization that has decided its best strategy going forward is to not only alienate but attack its biggest fans.

Call me crazy, but that would not seem to me to be the best move of an intelligent organization.

For some reason, the National Football League, a group that has spent the last forty years trying to prove they are so gosh-darn all-American that you can't turn on the Super Bowl for five minutes without seeing U.S. soldiers in a tent in some horrible blood blister of a nation waiting to watch the game, which schleps out the biggest flags in the world before games to show how much they love love love the US of A -- for some reason they have decided to tell us all that they are just fine with their most prominent employees taking a dump on the flag before the game and expecting us to then go on to root for these same jackwipes for the next three hours.

The NFL, its players, its idiot-in-chief Roger Goodell, and many of its apparently brain-damaged veterans like Terry Bradshaw are trying to make this into a free speech issue. As if any of us could go to our job or to our clients, parade around tooting our little special horn to demand attention to our pet social or political concerns, and expect to receive anything in response other than a guided tour to the door.

So since the various persons I have mentioned can't seem to get this through their iron-clad skulls, let me offer a slightly different scenario and see if they can understand what I'm driving at.

Say I'm a big-time movie producer, known for my sports films. I always tell people how much respect I have for our pro athletes. I make my biggest film ever, billed as a stirring gridiron saga, and invite all my pro football buddies to the premiere. They come to the elegant event in limos and helicopters, all high class, treated like kings. I say a few words of thanks to them at the beginning, how great they are and what they mean to me, and introduce the movie to thunderous applause.

The film is an endless parade of pro football idiocy. Every football player shown is a nose-picking moron, a drooling wife-beater, a drug addict who slaps little kids around, a mutton-headed, ugly, mean, retarded, creepy, violent, greedy, pants-crapping rapist. Their coaches are drunken whoremongers, the higher-ups vicious exploitators of human pain. Every character connected to the game of football is shown as the lowest piece of shit to ever appear on film.

The players and other NFL types get mad. Many of them leave. I protest: Hey! This is America! I'm just exercising my freedom of speech! And, clearly, I am.

Now, here's the pop quiz (take all the time you need, Terry):

Was I an asshole?

The correct answer is: Yes.

(It's okay, Terry, good try.)

Did I mention that last Sunday's disgusting spectacle of players, coaches, owners, and other assorted nincompoops fell on the day set to honor Gold Star Mothers?

(Those are moms who lost children fighting for our country, Terry.)

Unforced errors abound.

The NFL has an operations manual that requires players show respect during the national anthem (operations manuals are not rule books, but they're not suggestions either), so it's not like they never conceived of this Colin Kaepernick hijinks coming up. But like little precious pansies they wouldn't dare do anything about player misbehavior. Why? So people who hate the NFL anyway won't get mad at them? Because they also hate America and the flag for which it stands?

What astonishes me most is that these NFL people are angry that we're not pleased as punch that they're shitting on America. We express our feelings of betrayal and they act as if we ought to be ashamed of ourselves. Which makes me think they really are all brain damaged.

Hey, NFL: Do you know us at all? The America-lovers? The flag-respecters? We're the ones who still believe in the manly virtues that you supposedly exemplify -- we're not the ones who cringe at the thought of football, the ones who would never dream of letting little Egon play such a horrible game. We're not the Tom Robbinses, weenies who think American football is nothing but a miniature apocalypse and second only to country music as a guidepost to hell. We were the ones that defended American football as a game of nuance and strategy as well as strength and toughness. WE WERE YOUR FRIENDS AND YOU ATTACKED OUR PROFOUNDLY HELD BELIEFS. And we're supposed to like this? 

It's nothing but an ego trip and you know it. That little knee thing may not seem like much to you, but we're not as stupid as you seem to think; we know what it means.

And right now, it means you're in trouble. Because brother, you need us more than we need you. And I, for one, am done with your politically correct bullshit. Go to hell.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Let's level with Daredevil.

Comics dorks are well aware that Marvel Comics' character Daredevil, in addition to being the basis of a lousy Ben Affleck movie and a better Netflix TV show, is a blind superhero whose other senses are so super-enhanced that he functions on a super-duper level. How enhanced? He can tell how long ago a doorknob was touched by the residual warmth of the hand of the guy who touched it. He can tell how many grains of salt are on a pretzel by the taste. He can balance on a fingertip.

Now that's enhanced.

The immediate problem that presents itself about super senses is... how do you turn them off? Let's say his wife snores. Well, what's he going to do? Sneak off the guest room? He could hear her down the block

Can you imagine how bad it would be to have super-smell powers in the subway? 

I'm sure plenty of issues in the last 53 years have dealt with this, and that he can control it and blah blah blah. Nothing original on this blog about that. (I wonder if they ever did an issue where he had a bad cold? He'd be at half-strength. Marvel would have done that in the 60's, maybe, but not now. Now they're probably trying to figure out a way to turn him female.)

Anyway: I was thinking of other things Daredevil might be able to do that the comics may not have explored. For instance:

ψ     He can tell the color of the M&M by tasting it.

ψ     He can Believe It's Not Butter.

ψ     He can tell if you washed after using the can by the feel of your hand.

ψ     He knows by the smell that the Netflix series is better than the Affleck movie was.

One is like bacon, the other like
bacon air freshener.
ψ     He can tell the air pressure in each tire of the car while riding in it.

ψ     And he can drive that car through rush hour traffic by ear.

ψ     That guy who overdoes the Axe spray on your bus? He can smell him from space.

ψ     Thanks to excellent taste, he prefers Handel to Tchaikovsky.

ψ     He can tell that your tie clashes with your shirt by the sound.

ψ     He can tell what you ate by the timbre of your stomach growling.

ψ     He can feel Spider-Man's Spider Sense tingling, and does not like it.

ψ     No SBD can fool him.

ψ     And he knows who dealt it.

So it's pretty cool that he can do that stuff. As for me, my only sense developed beyond normal human sense is my extraordinary sense of humor. Not that you'd know it by this blog, though.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Triple Duh.

[Ext. Guy Fieri in red car, driving]

Guy: I'm Guy Fieri and we're rollin' out to find the best, most amazing crummy eateries in America here on Delis, Doughnut Shops, and Dumps!

[opening animation]

Guy: [outside location] Here in Globular, New Mexico, there's not too much shakin' -- except for the barbecue scene! We're here at Grouchy's Barbecue where Old Man Petersen's been kickin' the BBQ old school since 1952!

[interior shot, people chewing]

Blond customer: I can't say enough about the food. It's nearly edible.

Fat customer: [face smeared with sauce] It's safe to say every single person in town has eaten at Grouchy's. Of course, there's only ten people in city limits.

Old fogey customer: I've choked it down many times.

Old fogette customer: Beats starvin'.

Guy: [voice over] The raves about Grouchy's eats just keep comin'! We visited him to see if he'd share the secret of his famous barbecued brisket and gefilte fish sandwich.

[shot of sandwich on bun, pickle on side]

Grouchy: [kitchen interior] No.

Guy: Oh, come on.

Grouchy: Go away.

Guy: Is it true your first name is actually Old Man?

Grouchy: Yeah. My father was Older Man Petersen. My son is Less Old Man Petersen.

Guy: Well, that's.... uh....

Grouchy: Yeah.

Guy: Hm.

Grouchy: Just call me Grouchy.

Guy: Please tell us how you make that bodacious brisket. I'm beggin' ya. There's nothing else to do in this town.

Grouchy: Oh, all right. I start with a brisket of beef like the one I just happen to have here. Then I use my special blend of seasonings. Paprika, oregano, white pepper, red pepper, black pepper, lavender, elk horn, rose hips, Spanish fly, motor oil, and my secret ingredient.

Guy: And that is?

Grouchy: Salt. Then I let it marinate in our special sauce.

Guy: Looks like ketchup.

Grouchy: WHO TOLD YOU?

Guy: Uh, and how long do you let it marinate?

Grouchy: Forty-seven years.

Guy: Well, I guess -- huh?

Grouchy: Here's one -- well, label says 1973, but I guess that's close enough. I'll put it on the rack.

Guy: Whoa.

Grouchy: Then we put it in the smoker for a while.

Guy: For like what, eighty months?

Grouchy: Twenty minutes. You tryin' to kill it?

Guy: What kinda wood do you use in the smoker? Oak, cherry...

Grouchy: Used paneling. Then we cut it up, slop it on a bun with some gefilte fish, chuck on a pickle. Done.

Guy: And do you make your own...

Grouchy: Gefilte fish? Who does that? You ever try to catch a gefilte? Nah, comes out of a jar.

Guy: And the pickle?

Grouchy: Same jar.

Guy: Uh...

Grouchy: Eat it.

Guy: Errhhhrrrr...

Grouchy: Well?

Guy: Pretty bad.

Grouchy: Get out.

[exterior of Guy in car]

Guy: That's all for this week! Maybe forever! I'm off to the infirmary! See you next time on Delis, Doughnut Shops, and Dumps! Maybe!

Sunday, September 24, 2017

PSA from the dog #5.

Hello, friends! It is me, the dog. It has been a long while since I have made any important public service announcements. Things have been pretty good. But an alarming fact has recently come to light that requires canine input immediately!

I personally have surpassed the age of 21, at least in dog years, and I was under the impression that this would mean I am now eligible to vote. But not so! I have been informed to my dismay that dogs are not allowed to vote regardless of their age! Color this puppy shocked... and sad!

How can this be, in a land as great as America? Why cannot doggies allow their voices to be heard?

Do not think that the freedom to bark at every passing car and pedestrian is adequate to our need to have our voices heard. Oh, no! Doggies have many concerns that should be addressed at the ballot box! You are always going on about nonsense like healthcare and infrastructure and funding for arts and things. We have some real concerns! Here are just a few of the concerns that we will demand to vote on:

QUESTION: Shall puppies be allowed to eat liverwurst no matter what Papa says? 
NO ❌ YES ✅

QUESTION: Shall puppies be allowed a say in whether they get any "operations"?
NO ❌ YES ✅

QUESTION: Shall puppies be convicted of being "naughty" without trial, especially
since we did not actually steal the liverwurst?
NO ✅ YES ❌

QUESTION: Shall puppies be allowed in the yard to play even if they have been
so-called "naughty dogs"?

So you see, fair is fair! Puppies demand the right to vote on such pressing matters of the day!

I submit to you, friends, that this demand must be met or else we may have no choice but to engage in sit-down strikes. You will see us just lying around doing nothing, instead of what we usually do. Do you want to take a chance on that? I think not!

Allow me to leave you with this reminder:

Denying pups the vote or veto?
Think how naughty you must be to

This has been a public service announcement from the dog.

Friday, September 22, 2017


I am informed that the autumnal equinox will be at 4:02 this afternoon where I live. In a way I am unprepared for this event. In that same way I am unprepared for every event.


Sometimes I think the key to nostalgia is that we forget what we were worried about at the time. As a kid I had elderly relatives who remembered World War II fondly -- not all the fighting and unpleasantness, but rather the swing music, the good times, the feeling of being united for a cause, the great movies. I have to think that twenty-five years later they must have felt like they got smacked in the head with a shovel. The years 1944 and 1969 were as distant as a single culture could be.

I find myself at that age where I think over past events, trying to fit what was going through my mind at the time with what was going on in the world. Sometimes it's pretty comical. I wish I could go back to the years of my childhood sometimes, not as a child again, but to have a look around as an adult. The world has changed so much so fast that I can scarcely believe it happened in my lifetime, and I'm not even that old. (I'm not! I'm not!) I just want to get hold of how life was before I go on to how it is.

But this wasn't what I had intended to write about, which is autumn. Some trees are turning already; maybe the ceaseless rain this summer pushed them along. Up the street a neighbor's chestnut tree is thopping the asphalt below with those spiky green bombs. The squirrels are looking particularly furtive. I don't look so hot myself.


Even though this was not a brutal summer (no heat dome, thank you), I'm glad to see it go. I had a lot of work and no vacation. In fact, I still have no vacation. Wah!

You know who else doesn't? Our friends in the hurricane-torn south and Caribbean, and our wildfired friends out west. Whatever I may complain about, they've had it brutally hard. Perhaps we'll all be happy when winter is here. Rain for the scorched west, sunshine for the south. And up here we'll get one of those blizzards where you see trucks driving in forty-foot high trenches of snow, as if Moses had been an Inuit. It'll be our turn.


However hard summer may be some years, I invariably miss the sunshine. I don't know that I suffer from SAD (seasonal affective disorder), as I am a pretty SAD sack all year round. Days of endless darkness do tend to dampen my spirits after a while, as I've noted before. It's okay in October, even into November if it's not too rainy, and December has Santa Claus to distract us, but January, February... by the middle of March it's a toss-up between suicide and homicide. Fortunately I've always managed to hold on until April. 

Regardless, here we go again. I have no plans to escape to Machu Picchu and enjoy summer again while others freeze in darkness here. As I always say, winter makes a man of you. A cold, mean, bitter man.

Bring down the curtain! The days are more than half night, starting now. 

Thursday, September 21, 2017

You look better without my glasses.

Unlike most people when they age, I have become progressively more nearsighted. I could see things close up just fine; but suddenly my astronaut-level eyesight is no longer what it was. Now people start looking blurry from a distance of about thirty feet. But you know what? I find you all look much better!

From a distance, wrinkles are wiped away, smiles are friendlier, and warts are practically invisible. Who needs beer goggles when all it takes is forgetting my glasses? Many an attractive woman has swum through my ken, only to ruin the whole thing by getting too close. Hey, lady, I liked you a lot more back there.

I'm sure she had a fantastic personality. Look at the lute! Musical!

Anyway, now I find my reading vision is starting to go, and eventually I guess you'll all be blurry from any distance if I forget my glasses. Which I probably will do more often. When I'm shaving I don't wear them, after all, and I'm sure it will do my self-esteem wonders when that visage is obscured.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Coke vs. Coke.

I dig Coke Zero. My wife digs Coke Zero. Coke Zero is our favorite cola. It tastes more like a real cola than Diet Coke. It's delicious. It is Michael Bloomberg-compliant. Yes, it's Coke Zero for us.

So of course, Coke went and changed it.

This Coke Zero Sugar thing has a weird name, to begin. "Coke Zero" implies that it has zero calories; "Coke Zero Sugar" means... it's Coke Zero with sugar? Confusing. I think they'll get away with it because they're phasing out non-Coke Zero Sugar Coke Zero, which never had sugar. Does any of this make sense?

What makes even less sense to me is that I cannot taste the difference. Coke says that Coke Zero Sugar is "made with an even better-tasting recipe that delivers real Coca-Cola taste with zero sugar and zero calories." I tried it and thought initially that it might have a little more of the classic Coke vanilla taste, but I think I was just talking myself into it. I didn't think and still don't think there's any difference in flavor.

I was completely ready to call shenanigans on Coke. I thought they were full of crap over this. That belief intensified after I read their claim to have "broke the Internet with the news" of Coke Zero Sugar, which sounds like the kind of horse hockey marketers write when they have no ideas but want to be down with the young folk.

However, my wife claimed she could tell the two Cokes apart, and likes the new one better.

I had to put that to the test. She accepted the challenge.

I poured a small amount of Coke Zero into two identical plastic cups, and a small amount of Coke Zero Sugar into a third identical plastic cup. I challenged her select the cup with the Coke that was different from the other two. She didn't have to say whether it was Zero or Zero Sugar, just which of the three did not match the other two.

And son of a gun, she got it. Cup C had Coke Zero Sugar, and she nailed it right away.

But here's the thing: It wasn't the flavor, it was the fizz. She says Coke Zero Sugar is less fizzy, and doesn't make her burp.

So in a way, I was right -- the flavor change is so subtle as to be barely or completely nonexistent. But my wife, who has very sensitive palate for texture, picked up the difference: Less burping.

Now I'm thinking there's something Mentos-related to this. Like, everyone was so busy mixing Diet Coke and Mentos for the eruption that none of us discovered that Coke Zero weaponizes Mentos. Homeland Security did, and made Coke change the recipe for public safety: "Coke Zero and Mentos can blow a bank vault door off its hinges! You must change the recipe!"

I'm sticking with that story. It makes more sense than Coke doing a lot of hip-hooray and ballyhoo for nothing.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Dog test.

There's a family I know that recently got its first ever dog. I'm not sure it was a good idea. I don't think they were prepared and I don't think they've learned much since they got it. They never do anything with it. It just hangs around and gets walked in the yard once in a while. I think they're in over their heads.

And I know what I'm talking about. Longtime readers know I had a perpendicular learning curve when we got Tralfaz, the first dog. And it was really difficult. But my wife was always doing research, always working with him to teach him what he had to know, always stressing that we needed to have patience (even while she was losing her cool). She was an ideal of someone who loves dogs and is determined to learn to be a good pet mommy. 

Now the owner of two dogs with a combined weight of more than 200 pounds, I'm still no expert on dog rearing. I do know a few things that I learned the hard way, which is pretty much the only way I learn anything. If you're a novice dog owner, I hope I can teach you them the easy way. Some of these are pretty common tips. Even these bear repeating.

Note: This is an illustration
of a dog.

1) Know what kind of dog fits into your life.
If you work 20 hours a day and live alone, probably no dog is going to fit into your life. Dogs require time and care. If you are a super-active family, a lazy dog like an English bulldog may disappoint you. If you're a lazy family, don't get a dog bred to run amok, like a border collie. If you want a hunting dog, a pug might not do the trick. Be careful; an Australian shepherd, for example, is very different from an Australian cattle dog, although they're both energetic. You need to find a dog that fits your life. But your life is going to change anyway. 

2) You'd better like things dogs like. 
You and your dog will spend a lot of time together, so you had better share some interests. If your interests include playing with toys, eating treats, learning new things and teaching them, taking walks, playing in the yard, chasing cats, humping legs -- wait, skip that last stuff. Basically if your idea of hell is throwing a ball in the yard, or taking walks, or any of the other things dogs enjoy, you may not like having one. If you're just going to throw the dog in a crate at night and in the yard during the day, what's the point?

3) Children have to know that owning a dog is not like owning a toy, and they're not even good at owning toys.
Obviously that means that little kids who pull tails and stuff are too young to be responsible dog owners, but that also goes for older kids, like the one in the family I mentioned. You don't just put a dog in a box and take him out when you feel like playing. Teenagers seem to reach this stage pretty fast. And as I note, it's not like kids even take good care of their toys, unless someone makes them. I'm not big on treating a dog like a baby (well, not officially), but at least that gets the point across that the dog is a living thing and relies on you for necessities and attention.

4) Calculate how much you expect to spend on your dog. Then double it. 
Especially if you're a sucker for dog toys and novelty treats, like me. And consider pet insurance, if you can swing it. You don't want to have to lose your beloved pet because you just can't pay for treatment.

5) Calculate how much time it will take to train your dog. Then triple it. Then do it again.
Real dogs, unlike movie dogs, are not born knowing things. Worse, after they learn them, they will forget. They need training and reminders. I was under the impression that dogs naturally fetch toys and bring them back. Neither of mine will, and one even has retriever in his job description. Really, they don't know much when they're puppies. And if they're not taught, they won't know much when they're dogs.

6) Dog affection is not like in the movies.
Dogs are not always going to come over and give you a lick when you're down. Sometimes they seem baffled by all human emotion. Some breeds are especially attentive to moods, and some seem almost indifferent. It varies from dog to dog. Some dogs don't even seem to be particularly loyal. But plenty of them are affectionate, like Labs and Goldens and Old English Sheepdogs. Just remember, an affectionate dog will also want a lot of your attention. Two-way street.

7) People do fail at this.
Dog owning looks easy when you see other folks with their pets, let alone when you see them in movies or on TV, but it's not. Puppies have destructive impulses, disobedient streaks, and periods -- like the equivalent of teen years -- when even the nicest dog turns into a total pain in the ass. People often give up on dogs when they reach that stage; shelters are full of very nice dogs that outgrew the horrible stage after a family had just had enough and got rid of them. The failure to prepare for the dog and to know this stuff is coming is, as they say, a preparation to fail.

But sometimes there's nothing you can do. I know a person whose family had to give up a rescue dog because the pup could not (on vet's advice) be in a family environment. The dog would not stop eating and swallowing articles of clothing, and needed multiple surgeries to remove them. So even when people do all their due diligence, even when they have all the love and preparation they can muster, even then sometimes it's a failure. (The dog went to live in a permanent no-kill shelter, by the way, where there would be no socks or underwear around to eat. The family visits.)

8) It may not be the toughest job you'll ever love, but it will be among them. 
Compared to raising a child, raising a dog is easy. If you can stand the insanity for a couple of years, if you train and train again, odds are very good you'll have a good dog in the end. Kids? Who can say? And the worry and stress never stops. Still, raising a dog is hard work, and if you (and the dog) get through it, your life will have been enriched, I guarantee it. Not because of the affection from the dog; as I said above, you may not get that. But because you nurtured and taught a pretty smart creature and took on a responsibility for something outside yourself. That's how we develop our own character.

At least, that's been my experience. And I'm certainly a character. 

Sunday, September 17, 2017


Some movie sites really seem to care about the spoilers more than the movies. The juicy feeling of being the one to spill the beans is hard to resist, after all, although we used to have to restrict that to spreading malicious information about our dearest friends, family, and neighbors.

I don't like ruining stories for people--well, I would enjoy showing off how much I know and YOU DON'T, but I dislike having stories ruined for me. You'd probably take revenge at some point. That's just like you, isn't it?


So I decided to just reveal the spoilers for movies that don't exist. That way I get the pleasure of revealing secrets that I know and you don't!!! without actually being a jerk. Without further ado...


AberZombie & Fitch
The President of the United States is secretly a zombie!

Cannonball Run (remake)
Drew Carey and Wayne Brady are not really priests!

Orbit Ultimate
The aliens are friendly--the bad guys are the United States Army!

Squirrel Girl: The Motion Picture
Monkey Joe gets killed!

Vertigo II
She's still dead!

Tom Cruise discovers that Saturn is hollow--and the Earth is now inside it!

Dan Brown's Women Are from Venice
The Pope did it!

Zooey Deschanel picks Channing Tatum over Zach Galifianakis!

Plague Ball!
The horrible pandemic was part of a plot to seize power by the Vice-President of the United States!

Monkeys in My Pants
Jim Carrey's monkeys are granted "Earth Citizenship" by the United Nations!

Crimea the Century
Hercule Poirot (Cedric the Entertainer) solves the murder!

Phoenix Blues
The killer is old Detective Jack Jensen!

The Fluffernuttins
Rip Torn was just a hired stooge--Sofia Vergara is behind the plot to kidnap the sweet li'l Fluffernuttins!

The Scrapbook
You think Ryan Gosling's dead at the end--but he's not!

Boot Hill, Mountain High
The Cherokee had nothing to do with the attack; it was the United States Cavalry!

H. R. Pufnstuf: The Movie
Will Ferrell (H. R.) destroys Witchiepoo by turning her Evil Witchie Spell against her, saving Living Island, and is nearly killed himself--but Freddy the Magic Flute saves him at the last second!

Dog Day Afternoon (remake--following test audiences)
Sonny and Sal and Leon get away with the money!

Space Sierra Notebook
It turns out that the plot to contaminate the Earth from space was engineered by the United States Army under the command of the Vice-President of the United States, but Will Smith reveals it as his ship is plunging from orbit and burning up, and you think he's dead but the aliens who turned out to be friendly save him so he can be with Keira Knightly, while John Cusack leads the revolt that restores harmony and ecological balance to the Earth!

Saturday, September 16, 2017


As I noted early this year, we like a good animated film around these parts. We're not much for horror movies and we have the standard female/male disagreement over rom coms vs. shoot-'em-ups. But we both grew up enjoying Wile E. Coyote getting blown to charcoal, so we still have fondness for well-done animated films. Here one we finally got around to.

Moana is an interesting Disney princess movie in some regards, one being that it pokes fun at Disney princess movies. For example, the heroine has the most useless animal sidekick in probably all the Disney movies, including Flounder and Pascal, who never amounted to much. But Heihei the stupid rooster is my favorite character in the film, providing about 80% of the laughs. (The story of how the character Heihei wound up so stupid is told here.)

Heihei: Not too bright.

On the whole Moana is an entertaining film -- pirate coconuts could improve probably any film, including Easy Rider -- but I did have some complaints. Of course I did. I always do. I almost called this entry "Bitchin' and Moana" but I was afraid it wouldn't be clear what I meant by bitchin' -- I mean my complaining.

Much as I hate to object to the shining halo of St. Lin-Manuel Miranda, I didn't enjoy most of the songs. They quickly became a tiresome collection of "I'm Great" tunes, and the more serious they were the worse they were.

Don't believe me? Here are some of the numbers and what they're about:

  • "Where You Are" -- We are awesome
  • "How Far I'll Go" -- I am awesome
  • "You're Welcome" -- I am awesome
  • "Shiny" -- I am awesome
  • "We Know the Way" -- We are awesome

That's their entire function, telling about the awesomeness of the various singers. The best of these songs, THE best song in the movie, and in my mind the only good one, goes to Maui. "You're Welcome" is not only a catchy tune, it's also a hilarious number with excellent animation that establishes character and history in a terrific way. It says "I'm awesome" in a way that tells you "I am full of myself." Miranda wrote it, so big fishhooks up on that.

Moana's own song, "How Far I'll Go," by contrast, is annoying, repetitious, and completely self-centered but not in a funny way. Let's have a look at some princess songs of the past and what they told us about the characters:

  • Snow White, "Someday My Prince Will Come" -- I would love to find somebody worthy of my love
  • Pocahontas, "Colors of the Wind" -- I love this place and I love nature
  • Sleeping Beauty, "Once Upon a Dream" -- Love is wonderful and I sleep a lot
  • Belle, "Belle" -- I want to see the world
  • Tiana, "Almost There" -- I want to accomplish great things
  • Ariel, "Part of Your World" -- I would love to see this wonderful place you live in
  • Jasmine, "A Whole New World" -- What a wonderful world this is, and you're nice too
  • Rapunzel, "When Will My Life Begin?" -- I am going nuts in this tower
  • Elsa, "Let It Go" -- I'm gonna destroy everything with ice power

("Let It Go" doesn't actually count, as it was a queen's song, not a princess song, and Elsa is the villain of the movie, no matter what the girls think.)

These songs tend to be directed outward, not just a celebration of the wearisome Me. Tiana's and Belle's songs are close to Moana's, as they show a desire for adventure and recognition, but they also show the characters at their innocent stage; Belle and Tiana would find their dreams but become deeper, wiser people later. Even though they achieve their goals, they don't reprise the songs; they are more mature now. Moana does reprise her crummy song because she doesn't change at all. A little more gutsy and confident, sure, but while other characters may say "I've learned so much" she says "I was right all the time."

As for Tamatoa, the enormous monster crab who sings "Shiny," he's my other main objection to the film. He's not the big bad, but in a way he's worse. He's the only Disney villain I can recall that gave off a real molesterish vibe; anyone else catch that? There's something seriously icky going on that is too much for children's entertainment. Plus his song is dreary and annoying (Miranda co-wrote), the worst in the movie.

My biggest disappointment (spoiler coming!) is when Moana returns to her home island following her adventure. Her folks see the boat coming in. For a moment I hoped her father would point and say, "Wow! Will you look at that! Heihei's sailing that boat! Oh, wait, the kid's there too." But no, Moana gets all the adulation. The film really hits that girl-power wish-fulfillment a little too hard on the nose.

I feel bad for boys, whose heroes never get this treatment anymore. Boys wind up almost being sidekicks in their own adventures. Hermoine's smarter than Harry; Annabeth's smarter than Percy; the girls are always tougher and more driven in stories, even ones written specifically for boys. No wonder boys are growing up to be men who drop out of society. But that's a story for another time.

Friday, September 15, 2017

The cultural police never sleep.

Cultural Police Blotter -- Friday, Sept. 15

08:20 -- A white man was seen wearing a gi in public; when questioned by CP officers he claimed he was going to judo class. Police took him to the station for further questioning, and he was released seven hours later with a stern warning. His clothing was confiscated.

09:35 -- Two white men were found at a statue of Abraham Lincoln that had been painted red with the word RACIST written multiple times around the base. The men, who carried soap and other cleansing agents, claimed to be cleaning up the graffiti. They were immediately arrested and charged with violating free speech.

10:15 -- A man in a black mask was detained by officers for throwing rocks through the windows of the Jewish temple off Oppressed Peoples Circle. The man was questioned, and he explained that he was not a Nazi fascist protesting the Jewish grip on the world economy, but rather an antifascist socialist protesting the racism of the Jews against Muslims. Under the circumstances, his rocks were returned to him and he was released.

12:00 -- CP officers maintained their usual position outside the municipal food court to ensure no cross-cultural cooking and serving would occur (Indian food must be prepared and sold by Indians, Thai food by Thais, etc.). A new supposedly Canadian food cart, Pretty Good Grub Eh?, was investigated and flagged for nonconformity pending further review.

14:08 -- A riot was reported on the campus of St. Jude University, with a request for help from CP Squad. The LT on duty discovered that the "riot" was actually 10,000 students in masks burning books, assaulting faculty, beheading religious statues, barricading doors, and burning cars on campus in response to a proposed visit from Sister Mary Anthony of the Little Sisters of the Poor. The LT instructed University officials to cancel the proposed visit and did not otherwise respond.

14:30 -- Two Caucasian girls from Mumia Abu-Jamal Middle School were observed on the street wearing anime T-shirts. CP officers covered them in standard issue blackout robes and escorted them home to change into something more race-appropriate.

16:10 -- A CP officer was fired upon by a female in a red Yugo. As the officer was only mildly wounded and the race of the assailant was undetermined, no arrest was made.

16:49 -- A white cisnormative male, an employee of  Dalton Whizner Media Corporation, was reported to have referred to a friendly African American male coworker as "brother." Following his dismissal from his position he was escorted out of the office by CP officers and warned to stay more than ten thousand yards away from the building for the rest of his life.

18:03 -- CP officers responded to a call claiming a white woman was preparing Chinese food for her family. Upon arrival at the scene the woman was identified as positively white, and her "chop suey" was examined. The woman was arrested; she was later fined $150 for unauthorized cultural appropriation and released with a warning.

20:30 -- CP officers were called in response to an altercation on Sumiteru Taniguchi Boulevard, where several Native Aboriginal Tribesmen were engaged in fisticuffs with some Guatemalan-born acitizenal residents. When officers established order they were informed that the Natives had accused the Guatemalans of being white, the latter having descended from Spaniards of Spain. The Guatemalan-born residents took offense and then violence broke out. Eighteen were wounded, eleven critically. No arrests were made.

22:45 -- CP officers were called to reports of a house party in progress at City College; white college students were found to be celebrating something they referred to as "Mehican Independence Day." Many sombreros, ponchos, fake mustaches, and tacos were in evidence. CP officers surrounded the house, placing all non-Mexican-descended students under arrest; they were taken to headquarters to wait arraignment in the morning. Evidence collected by police included sombreros, ponchos, fake mustaches, and especially the tacos.

23:30 -- Calls from passersby indicated sounds of shouting inside O'Murphy's Oirish Pubbe. Upon arrival, CP patrolpersons were informed that a non-Irish patron had entered the bar affecting an outrageous brogue and demanding a pint of Guinness and a potato. Upon investigation the CP officers discovered that the would-be patron was Italian, but transsexual. The bar was immediately closed down and all the micks arrested and thrown in the paddy wagon.