Thursday, August 31, 2006

The War on Terriers

[Cartoon by Jeffrey Decoster, New York Times, 8.31.06]

I didn't know the "Dog Whisperer" was mean to dogs.

I didn't know that progressive talk goddess Stephanie Miller hated terriers.

I could never have imagined that the United States of America would become the big dumb bully of the universe, roaming the world in search of fights to pick, wars to start, stacks of dry wood to set on fire.

What's a dog to do?

We've never actually watched The Dog Whisperer in our house. We've never missed an episode of Showtime's Weeds, which Goose hails as Marijuana's Finest Half Hour (and which Moose likes because it features the adorable Mary Louise Parker as the perky, dope-selling widow), but The Dog Whisperer has never made it onto the family radar screen. Still, I was sad to read in The New York Times today that the National Geographic show features a big old meanie who gets dogs to obey through tactics of punishment and intimidation that can put them into a state of panic.

Readers of Roxie's World know that it doesn't work that way in our house. Moose and I have tussled from time to time over who is truly the alpha-dog, but she has usually won by being firm without being mean, and she would never try to scare me. (No snarky comments, please, from friends who know I have never been trained to not jump up and bark hysterically when visitors come to the door.) My Moose is tough love with a human face, and I honor her as my alpha-dog. Goose, of course, is another, sometimes funner story, and I lick her all-too human face in recognition of her role as zeta-dog. Every pack needs a zeta-dog ;)

But Stephie, Stephie, Stephie, why do you hate terriers? We heard it the other day when a caller called in with advice for you on your ongoing rat problem. She offered to let you borrow her dog. "What kind of dog is it?" you asked. "A terrier mix," the helpful caller replied. "Well, there you go," you said, "you fix your rat problem and then you've got a terrier," or words to that effect. We were so devastated we couldn't focus on the details, though you did go on to talk about your preference for big dogs and to make some snide remark about terriers being "high strung."


We are sad to see a dog person and an all-round fabulous grrrl such as yourself trashing a breed through stereotype and misinformation. We are disappointed to realize that you are a size queen with a bias toward large, mentally challenged breeds such as Saint Bernards. (We always knew you loved Saint Bernards. We just didn't know your love was based on some kind of knee-jerk, anti-smart dog bigotry. What is it, Steph--Some kind of No Dog Left Behind thing?) Terriers aren't high strung; we're just busier than most creatures are. And most of us aren't "small" either. I weigh in at a sturdy 25 pounds, and my cousins the Irish Terrier are even bigger. Check out this description of the Irish Terrier's temperament from the American Kennel Club's website:

Tender and forebearing with those he loves, this rugged, stout-hearted terrier will guard his master, his mistress and children with utter contempt for danger or hurt. His life is one continuous and eager offering of loyal and faithful companionship and devotion. He is ever on guard, and stands between his home and all that threatens.

What's not to love, Steph? What's not to love? Everybody needs a terrier in the age of "terror."

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Mirror, Mirror

Moose has been having a lot of fun playing with Photo Booth, the cool toy on the sweet little MacBook Goose bought for their trip to Paris. They call it the "baby computer" because it's small and lives in the pantry. That way, it's convenient for finding recipes or conducting emergency Google searches to answer such burning questions as, "Which American president lived longest?" (Give up? Ray-Gun.)

Anyway, Moose used Photo Booth to snap this mirror image of her current favorite tee-shirt. (You can buy "Stop Bitching Start a Revolution" tee-shirts and bumperstickers here.) She gets a kick out of wearing this shirt and watching the reactions it elicits from people in various places. Takoma Park Farmers' Market? Lots of grins and one guy who launched into a lengthy explanation of the artists who sell these tee-shirts at venues in the greater Washington area. Paris Metro? A few quizzical (but not disapproving) looks and a lonely ex-pat who said "I like your shirt" and spent the next 45 minutes talking to Moose and Goose about politics, conspiracy, and the conveniently sudden death of convicted Enron CEO Ken Lay. Moose is considering wearing this shirt on the first day of class next week, when she'll face 215 eager young college students who have signed up for her lecture course in Literature by Women. Or maybe she'll wait and wear the shirt when she teaches Margaret Cho's brilliant, hilarious Revolution. Why not? She has tenure. She can risk offending a handful of students if she thinks she might inspire a handful of others to dare to dream of a different world.

After all, she's a teacher in the mold of her favorite cinematic heroine, Fraulein Maria. Climb every mountain, ford every stream, start a revolution, and you'll find your dream. Sing along, friends of Roxie's World. We know you know the words!

Friday, August 18, 2006

Brave Heart

No, my title is NOT a tasteless reference to the recent trials and tribulations of actor Mel Gibson. It is a happy reference to my recent trip to see my cardiologist, Dr. Braz-Ruivo. He did an echocardiogram on my heart (similar to what you see in the image at left) and declared that my heart disease has not gotten any worse since he last saw me. That is great news. It vindicates my moms' decision to take me off Lasix, which, you may recall, everyone in our household hated (because it made me lethargic and incontinent). The doctor was a little upset when he first heard I had been off it since May, but after he saw the echo he said, "Well, I never intended to keep her on Lasix permanently, of course."

We like Dr. Braz-Ruivo a lot. He has a sweet voice that bubbles with laughter and a Portuguese accent that makes everything sound pretty. He always remembers that my moms teach English and tilt to the left politically. I don't like all the yucky procedures he makes me endure (as a bonus yesterday, for example, I even had to get my toenails trimmed, which I hate), but it's kind of pleasant to lie on a table in the dark and listen to him and my moms tell stories and jokes while pictures of my heart flash up on his computer screen. He has a really nice assistant named Linda who holds me while the machines are doing their work and gives me treats afterwards. My moms pet my face and tell me what a good dog I am. Sometimes that calms me down. Sometimes I do my terrier trembling thing, but all that love does a heart good. The echo proves it!

For now the doctor says just to keep doing what we're doing, and we'll re-assess again in six months. Sometimes "staying the course" really is the wisest thing to do. And sometimes, alas, it isn't. More on that soon, but for now let's put our paws together and celebrate two things: my good report and my big brother Geoffrey's 35th birthday. Happy Birthday, Sweetie Boy!!!!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Talking Points

Regular readers of Roxie's World know that my moms are English professors. That helps to explain why, for a dog, I have an unusual interest in matters related to language. Being a political animal, I am especially interested in how battles over names, meaning, and interpretation play out in the public sphere. Thus, my ears pricked up into full terrier alert mode this week when I heard Moose grousing at the breakfast table that Republican National Committee chair Ken Mehlman had decided, in the wake of Ned Lamont's victory over Joe Lieberman, to start calling the opposition party "Defeat-ocrats." The RNC even put out a web video called "Weak and Wrong: Meet the Defeat-ocrats." Watch it at your own risk and with a barf bag close at hand.

Moose and I are wondering if the term will catch on as a desperate GOP tries to cling to power by Swift-boating anyone who dares question Bush's war strategies. We expect to hear loud, lusty Republican choruses of "Defeat-ocrat, Defeat-ocrat," punctuated by a trio of female back-up singers going "cut and run, cut and run, who's gonna cut and run?" We've decided the only way to survive this onslaught is to offer up one of our own, so we've spent the whole weekend coming up with clever, demeaning labels for Republicans and all the nasty things they stand for. Here are the videos we think Dems should roll out come September:

  • Meet the Republi-krauts: Shredding the Constitution One Amendment at a Time. This video would show highlights (sic) of the Bush administration's assault on civil liberty, their dangerous expansion of presidential power, and their erosion of the wall between church and state. Starring Jim Ward (voice deity of the Stephanie Miller Show) as the super-creepy Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez.
  • Here Come the Republi-Condis: Good Girls with Blood on Their Hands. The musical accompaniment to this video will be the Brahms Second Piano Concerto, a "dauntingly hard" piece of music that the piano-playing secretary of state has declared to be "most beautiful." A troupe of light-skinned African-American figure skaters will hold hands and skate across a map of the world. As they cross areas where Bush/Rice policies have resulted in death and destruction, the ice will break and the last skater in line will fall through the crack.
  • Let's Hear It for the Republi-cons: Bad Government, Huge Profits! Predictable but necessary, this video will dramatize the Democrats' "culture of corruption" theme as one of those disgusting eating contests that are suddenly getting so much attention. A good model might be this promotional video from the International Federation of Competitive Eating. It's too bad comedian Chris Farley is dead. He'd be perfect for the role of Jack Abramoff.
Moose came up with some other fun possibilities, but I'm not sure how much traction they'd be likely to get. She thought we should propose calling Republicans "Stay-the-Course-icans" and "Heckuva-job-icans," and she's quite fond of the phrases "Axis of Idiocy" and "Axis of Ineptitude," which already turn up on Google searches. I think we should keep it simple, though, and constantly call listeners' attention to the squalid underside of the Republican "brand." Let us know what YOU think, gentle readers.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Give Peace a Chance

Ned Lamont wins in Connecticut! Joe Lieberman proves that he is a sanctimonious, disloyal jerk by immediately announcing that the voters' desires matter less than his. He will run as an independent.

Message for Dems: Run for peace. Run with the people. Run for energy independence and health care and civil liberties and a new course of action in foreign policy. Run away from Joe and the Democratic Losership Council. Run with Ned!

Here's a good piece on the implications of Lamont's victory and Leiberman's selfish course of action. Roxie's World would declare Lieberman an official bad dog if we hadn't already used that title twice in recent weeks.

Feel like jumping on the Lamont bandwagon? Here's Lamont's website. Send him a check. He'll need it if he has to fight off TWO Republicans in the general election.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Bad Dog, Too

Uh-oh, I bet this big fella is in trouble! The dog in this picture is Barney, a six year old Doberman pinscher who was supposed to be guarding a $900,000 collection of rare teddy bears at a children's museum in England. Instead, he decided to make a meal of them, going on a rampage and chewing up hundreds of the little darlings, including one that had been owned by Elvis Presley. According to The Washington Post, Barney "just went berserk" and ripped the head off Presley's bear (named Mabel), leaving piles of stuffing, heads, and limbs all over the museum floor. I, too, am a dog with a penchant for inappropriate snacking, and like Barney I have a special fondness for snuggly textile goods as well as socks and underwear. Lead me not unto temptation, I say. If you don't want the toys, blankets, or undergarments chewed up, then don't leave them where a dog can get them, and for heaven's sake don't leave a dog to "guard" them.

I am a little troubled by the media coverage of this incident, though. The story notes that Barney had to be wrestled to the ground to stop his rampage, but it says nothing about Barney's background or training, as most tales of somebody-run-amok usually do. It doesn't note, for example, any mitigating circumstance that might explain his loss of control. It fails to mention whether his sire was a known teddy bear hater who raised Barney to believe that teddy bears were to blame for many of the world's problems and therefore deserve to be ripped limb from limb. It doesn't even say whether his mother was, well, a bitch.

Dogs just don't get a fair shake in the human-stream media, folks. You may love us, but you don't understand us. That's why Roxie's World is here.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Fit For Duty?

Moose and Goose were sitting on the couch last night, drinking cold beer and watching TV when a story on the president's annual physical came on the news. As you can imagine, it didn't take long before they were spitting their beer across the great room and ranting about how "World War III is breaking out and yet there's room in the news for the president's cholesterol level?" "Why do the media fall for this every damn year, touting Bush's physical condition as if it were a virtue that somehow made all his obvious failures and liabilities irrelevant? It's this little report card they hold up every year to prove what a very good boy he's been." And, of course, "If he's so darn fit, why don't they give him a gun and send him to Iraq? Or Lebanon? Or any of the other war zones he's managed to create?"

You can't blame Moose and Goose for being a little bitter. Yesterday was the fifteenth anniversary of Moose's father's death. Bush turned 60 a few weeks ago, which was Frig's age when he died, so the minute details of the president's astonishingly good health couldn't help but rankle. (Moose started calling her dad "Frig," by the way, when she realized he used that word to avoid offending her mother by lapsing into vulgarity in front of the children. Moose has always been a great fan of vulgarity and, like her father, has never been very good at hiding that fact from children.)

However, in the midst of all the happy data about Mr. Bush's resting heart rate and low blood pressure, one under-reported bit of information confirms what many observers of the administration have suspected for quite some time: The president is shrinking! According to a report in The Washington Post, Bush is a quarter-inch shorter than he was in last year's physical. He now stands at 5 feet 11 1/2 inches, which makes him two and a half inches shorter than his father, two inches shorter than Bill Clinton, and half an inch shorter than Eleanor Roosevelt. Interestingly, the president is still five inches taller than his secretary of state and at least an inch and a half taller than his vice president, though reports of Cheney's height vary, which is in keeping with the aura of deep secrecy the veep strives to maintain.

How much smaller can the president become? Of the accidental slaughter of dozens of Lebanese children, he says merely that it is "awful." On what actions might be taken to end the killings, he suggests that others should make phone calls and "make something happen." He appears to believe that having someone else say "stop this shit" is a meaningful way of fighting his "war on terror."

Heaven help us if this president gets any smaller.