Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Music: The Black Keys - Brothers

We consider ourselves bitches with some funk and soul. Sammi's background is more WASPB-y (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant Bitch), but Maggie has roots in R&B, she is brown after all. So we were pleased to find an album that gets our tails twitching and our paws snapping.

The Black Keys have really created an incredible album with 'Brothers.' The music is a great mixture of blues, rock, electronica, and awesome. Many 'Best Albums of 2010' have included it in their numbers (including Spin, Rolling Stone, and Amazon). We love every song on this album, which is rare for a band to pull off.

In a world filled with crappy music, it's great to hear something that is quite as awesome with such a stellar list as 'Brothers.' And if you still need more coercing, there's a song called "Howlin' For You" that seemed especially written for us. Check it out wherever you get your tunes!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Best of 2010

Loyal readers! Like a border collie with a thrown frisbee, we have returned to you with our tails between our legs. We're sorry that it's been so long since we have blogged! We have been busy being big sisters, teaching our little sister Olivia the importance of licking yourself and others. She always seems to have something delicious oozing out of her mouth and doesn't mind our tongues, so it's a win-win!

Sammi and Olivia cuddling, no one appreciates a full-body hug like Sammi does!

During 2010, our mother kept a spreadsheet documenting the books she read for a full year. She had a goal to read 100 books, and fell one book shy of reaching the goad - 99 books completed in 2010! She recorded a bit of information about each book, e.g. genre, medium type, letter grade. Here are some of our favorite stats from her year of reading:

Total Books Read: 99
2010 Book Goal: 100
2011 Book Goal: 109 (10% increase)

Fiction Books: 71
Nonfiction Books: 28

Average Books Read Per Month: 8.25
  • High Month: May (15 books - she went to Europe for a couple of weeks)
  • Low Months: February, March, June, August (6 books each)

Books Divided by Rating:

  • A's - 25
  • B's - 49
  • C's - 20
  • D's - 4
  • F's - 1

Genres with Largest Representation:

  • Mystery (11 Books)
  • Fantasy (9 Books)
  • Historical Fiction (8 Books)
  • Memoir (7 Books)

We'll give a quick review of our favorites of her favorites here:

Favorite Self-Help of 2010: 'The Happiness Project' by Gretchen Rubin

We literally don't know anyone who wouldn't benefit from reading this book. Rubin offers practical advice on enjoying your everyday with the simplest of changes that are universally applicable. We're probably going to read this book every year, it's that good!

Not honored: 'Cesar's Way' by Cesar Millan

Favorite Mystery of 2010: 'The Likeness' by Tana French

We really like mystery novels, they get our tails wagging, and Tana French is a great author. This book is fun, interesting, and keeps you guessing at the murderer's identity until the very end.

Honorable Mention: 'The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie' by Alan Bradley

Favorite Science Fiction of 2010: 'The Passage' by Justin Cronin

What an excellent book! This book reminds us of a mash-up of 'World War Z,' 'The Stand,' and 'The Walking Dead'- yes we know, not a book. This book is a vampire tale, an apocalyptic look at the world, and to top it off it's well written. -- Beware however, this long book is the beginning of a trilogy, don't plan on it to resolve pleasantly at the end.

Honorable Mention: 'The Unincorporated Man' by Dani Kollin and Eytan Kollin

Favorite Literature of 2010: 'The Help' by Kathryn Stockett

A rare finding - this book deserves the hype. We were drooling for more as we read about the black maids of the 1950's waiting on their Southern white employers. We were surprised to hear about the discrimination facing African Americans not so long ago. Maggie is especially sensitive, being a minority herself!

Honorable Mention: 'Room' by Emma Donoghue -- WARNING: Not for the faint of heart.

Favorite Memoir of 2010: 'Shattered Dreams' by Irene Spencer

This is the story of a modern polygamist and her struggle to be one of ten wives. We recommend this to anyone who is interested in polygamy, which we definitely are. Perhaps it's because of our neighbors (real polygamists), or maybe because it's a fascinating lifestyle with local roots. Or perhaps it's because as sisters, we can see ourselves shacking up with the same stud to avoid having to live apart.

Honorable Mention: 'Unbearable Lightness' by Portia de Rossi - A memoir of anorexia.

Favorite Nonfiction of 2010: 'The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks' by Rebecca Skloot

The origin story of science's infamous HeLa cells and the woman behind the world's first immortal human cell line. This book dives into poverty, bioethics, science, and is altogether awesome. We are quite knowledgable in scientific matters, but this knowledge was not needed for the enjoyment of this book.

Honorable Mention: 'The Dead Hand' by David Hoffman - Recently declassified information about the Cold War that will chill you to the tail.

Well, that's it for 2010! We look forward to regular posting again, but don't get too mad at us if we forget to post. We're very busy biting our tails, eating snow, and constantly keeping a vigilant guard against that most vicious of enemies - THE MAILMAN.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Hobbies - breaking the law

After a long winter of watching television and licking ourselves, we decided to follow our dad to Moab for some biking. Promise of a bike ride on our local trail network makes us salivate with anticipation, but a trip to Moab makes us chase our tails at full speed.

Our trip began wonderfully with a shakeout ride on Amasa Back and down the Rock Stacker trail. Then, after our afternoon ride on Baby Steps, we decided to attempt the 'trail that must not be named.' That's right, an illegal trail! Fortunately, the Bureau of Land Management is taking care of our public lands by prohibiting bikers (and their dogs) from riding on sandstone. We assume their scientist found that skinny rubber tires cause way more damage than the sheep grazing they subsidize on our public lands. Come to think of it, we would love to chase some of those sheep down....

In fact, the sheep had us so worked up that we ignored each of the 20 area closed signs as we dashed onto the un-mentionable trail. The trail led us along the edge of a huge cliff and treated us to some fantastic technical and exposed riding. In fact, the views, flow, and fun of the trail may give it the title of the best trail in Moab. We wish we could share the name of this trail (or offer a picture), but - despite the likeness of many politicians to dogs - the Federal Government does not treat law breaking canines very kindly. But hey - we pay taxes! We pay for public schools even though they will not accept puppies. It's time to fight back. We urge dogs and humans to unite, find this trail, and ride it over and over again - it will make even the most invisible human tails wag with delight. And - if you happen to run into us at the dog park - we may give you directions to the trailhead...

Friday, April 16, 2010

Apps: Hipstamatic

We love our parents' iPhones! We are constantly on the watch for the newest and greatest apps to play with. Our new favorite, is the Hipstamatic app, and we've been playing with it as much as possible! We even told our mother about it, and she used it on her trip to Boston more than other standard cameras available.

Their tagline is, 'Digital Photography Never Looked so Analog.' The app uses the iPhone's 2mp camera and applies film, flash, and lens macros to take really awesome pictures on the go.

The app is $1.99, but it's totally worth it! There are other films and lenses available for purchase, but we've been very satisfied with the standard equipment and haven't felt the need to augment them.

We are in love with this app, and we think that you will fall in love with it as well! Now we will have a camera handy to take pictures of the cats and quail that sit in our yard to taunt and annoy us!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Book: Wicked Plants by Amy Stewart

We are getting excited for Spring to come, and are honing in our outdoor skills. Though dogs are born with certain innate senses, it helps for us to refresh our botany, orienteering, and sniffing skills so that when Spring comes, we can never get lost on accident. Last fall, Sammi got 'lost,' and conveniently ended up with a bunch of pot-smoking hippies who fed her some funny brownies. We're sure you can understand the benefits.

So we picked up the book, 'Wicked Plants: The Weed that Killed Lincoln's Mother and Other Botanical Atrocities.' First of all, that's an excellent title, one that we can really sink our teeth into. Secondly, this book is thrilling!

The book divides the plants up into varying sections depending on their attack mode (i.e. poisonous, carnivorous, flammable, projectiles) and then details the plant species' specific 'atrocities.' When possible, the author includes an anecdote about famous run-ins with the plant.

Now, when we head out into the wilderness, we will know which plants will hurt our tummies when eaten, which plants will stick to our fur, and which seeds and berries we can carefully transport home to leave for the unsuspecting quail that plague our front yard.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Fending for Ourselves - Doga

Our mom has been out of town for most of the week, so we are forced to take care of our dad who is helpless like a kitten on a roof without our constant domestic help. In order to deal with the stress of taking care of an adult human, we have begun doga - the dog form of yoga. We have been skeptical of yoga for a long time - we don't need to limber up before taking down an evil bird - but a recent article in the New York Times convinced us to try.

Aside from the spiritual aspects - 'namaste' is a really hard word to bark - we love yoga. And how can you fault an exercise with a pose call downward facing dog? We were honored by this homage.

We recommend yoga for all of our human readers who enjoy any combination of strength training, stretching, relaxation, or hot bitches in tight clothes! And please - take your dogs.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Lookalike - Jesse Jackson

For all of you readers who were concerned about our newfound love for cats last week - April Fools! We couldn't help but get caught up in the spirit of such a wonderful holiday. Rest assured, though, we terrorized the neighborhood cats all day on April 2nd to make up for it.

We heard (through the great barking chain of course) that our friend Echo - a beautiful, black standard poodle - is upset about never being featured on the blog. In fact, there was some speculation on Echo's part about being excluded due to her color. Being a minority herself, Maggie is very familiar with discrimination and reached out to her close, personal friend Jesse Jackson to understand how to best deal with these allegations. Then it hit us! Echo and Jesse Jackson could be twins!

We often stay at Echo's house while our parents are out having fun without us (we know they are having fun because they often come home smelling like food - why don't they take us?!). During these forced displacements we find the atmosphere oppressive. While we know how to bully Echo's mom into opening the treat cupboard on demand, Echo's other mom practices a particularly effective form of Cesar Milan's doggie mind control. We found this environment oppressive until Echo showed us the path to freedom - the doggie door!

Like Echo, Jesse Jackson has been trying to lead oppressed minorities to a better place. At least if you don't count American Jews or black-turned-President Obama as minorities. During his 1984 Presidential campaign Jackson remarked "four out of five [of Nixon's top advisors] are German Jews and their priorities are on Europe and Asia"; that he was "sick and tired of hearing about the Holocaust"; and that there are "very few Jewish reporters that have the capacity to be objective about Arab affairs." Oops - we wonder why his campaign floundered. Jackson also criticized then-Senator Barack Obama for "acting White" and later, in 2008, was caught on tape saying "see, Barack's been, ahh, talking down to black people on this faith-based... I want to cut his nuts out." We dogs know something about having nuts cut out; this is not an appropriate punishment for holding unpopular political views. While, on the other hand, we completely understand hatred for one particular race - cats. Like Jackson, Echo has been known to help dogs find freedom while harboring secret dreams of cornering a cat and shaking it by the neck like a brand new squeak toy.

Speaking of the Poodle, the AKC says it is an "intelligent and elegant-appearing dog, squarely built, well proportioned, moving soundly and carrying himself proudly. Properly clipped in the traditional fashion and carefully groomed, the Poodle has about him an air of distinction and dignity peculiar to himself." Due to the particular physiology shared by Jackson and the standard poodle, Jackson has been able to hold his head proudly despite numerous affairs and a very public love-child (something we, as bitches, would never feel ashamed of!). From the AKC, the Poodle's (and Jackson's) "neck [is] well proportioned, strong and long enough to permit the head to be carried high and with dignity. Skin snug at throat. The neck rises from strong, smoothly muscled shoulders." A well clipped Jackson certainly fits the profile of a standard Poodle.

We urge Echo to continue her errand of showing bitches everywhere the doggie door of emancipation while holding her head up high. As Jackson has demonstrated so capably, her Poodle physiology means she can continue to hold her own prejudiced beliefs and philander, while remaining a respected leader in the fight against dog whispering! We urge all of our readers to reach out and pet the first poodle you see as a sign of respect, even if it is Jesse Jackson!