Friday, February 26, 2010

Book: The Help by Kathryn Stockett

We are very sensitive to issues of race and inequality. As dogs, we face prejudice at every turn. We're sure you've seen the signs at stores and restaurants that say, "Only service animals allowed." We're continually being told that we're not as good as those well-behaved service animals who don't have the sense to disobey. Look at this foolish dog, obeying humans mindlessly.

So the message found in 'The Help' rang particularly true to us, we bitches have been put down by humans, service animals, even cats at times. The 'help' in Stockett's book refers to the black maids that take care of white families. The help knows intimate details about their lives, raise their children, and are in on their darkest secrets; and yet the white families still treat them as inferiors.

This is one of the best books we've read in a long time, a historical fiction set in Mississippi during the days of Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks. It explores the racial tensions, class tensions, and bonds that grow between people despite impossible circumstances - we never cease to be impressed by humans dogged pursuit of meaningful interpersonal relationships no matter their circumstances. This was an excellent read.

So, the next time you are impressed with a service animal, just remember the privileges that we, loving family members and beloved blogdogs, are forbidden, just because we don't wear the right kind of vest. Sit at the front of the bus? Hell, we aren't even allowed on that bus. Where is our Rosa Barks???

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Events: Swan Lake

We are cultured and high breed dogs, and so took to the town this weekend to see a ballet performance. We understand the rhythmic and symbolism that ballet encompasses, it is not unlike the battles for dominance we play out every night. We bite each other's necks, hump each other a little, and the ballerinas walk on their tiptoes and pirouette.

Ballet West put on a production of Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake, and we had orchestra level seats! There was some disruption getting in, the bitch ushers (Not literally, they were not dogs.) claimed that we were distracting and that dogs were banned. Luckily, our friend William Wegman was around to help us out with great disguises, not unlike these:

We finally were seated and ready to be stunned by Ballet West, and boy were we. The moves on those ballerinas and ballerinos (A real word?) was stunning! The ballet was tremendously choreographed, the hours flew by, and the orchestra performed beautifully. The artists were so into their work, that a dancer bled at one point.

Traditionally, we like hunting swans and eating the delicious flesh underneath their beautiful feathers, but we were happy to drool from a distance watching the dancers twirl around the stage alongside Tchaikovsky's immortal score. We had a great time!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Current Events - Toyota Recall

We were horrified to hear the highly accurate, proportionate, and unbiased news coverage surrounding the recent discovery that almost every vehicle produced by Toyota is a death trap. The Japanese (boo hiss!) have been trying to destroy America for years (see also this very recent image of an Anti American rally in Japan).

Being highly logical animals, we understand that when something seems too good to be true, it typically is. And our Toyota-made traveling kennel is far too comfortable to be anything other than a carefully designed and planted Japanese time bomb. Just think, a topper in the winter, large windows for sticking your head out, and our old beds in the back; in the summer the wind rushes through your ears - how could we resist its allure?!

Traveling Kennel in Millcreek Canyon

You can imagine our surprise, then, when an insidious Shiba Inu suggested an alternative explanation. That bitch insinuated our impartial public servants - the ones who currently manage the Federal Government's 61% stake in General Motors and stake in Chrysler - may not have intended to follow through on their promise to avoid meddling in the auto industry. She claims that the Obama Administration - feeling the pressure of public opinion against their auto bailouts - is attempting to hurt Toyota in an effort to boost the value of their investments in GM and Chrysler.

Come to think of it, it is suspicious that Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood told Toyota owners to "stop driving it. Take it to a Toyota dealer because they believe they have a fix for it." Especially considering that he later recanted once the statement made headlines in every major news outlet in the country. In fact, while the DOT told owners that their Toyota vehicles were safe to drive, they prevented Toyota from selling any of the models due to "safety concerns." If they were more concerned about safety than publicity, shouldn't they have prevented already sold models from leaving home as well?

The press has not abated, either. Yesterday's biggest news story was the publication of an internal Toyota memo touting cost savings from negotiating a smaller-than-expected recall in 2007. While the memo was given to the government in 2009, it's interesting that it was not released until right before Toyota's CEO is to scheduled to be flogged by Congress.

Hmmm... perhaps the savage Japanese Shiba could be right. While we'd love to sink our teeth into Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda's soft fleshy belly, it seems obvious that the current administration's response to the questionable decisions made at Toyota was completely self serving. In fact, after reconsidering, it seems like the real situation can best be summed up in the following graph:

So please, humans, if you have a dog - whether bitch or stud - do not let the most recent recall dissuade you from outfitting them with a brand new traveling kennel. Because the only thing worse than questionable corporate judgment is a powerful and bitchy government official!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Vancouver 2010

We think of ourselves as very well-rounded and accepting bitches. We sniff the butts of dogs from all walks of life (literally), all races, colors, breeds, and nationalities. But once every two years we pull out our American flag collars and take the supercilious persona adopted by all Americans. It's Olympic time!

August 2008 we were head-over-paws for the summer Olympics in Beijing. (Read our scathing post on Michael Phelps!) We watched as the Chinese showed the world that children should be seen or heard, but never simultaneously. We saw Phelps swim nearly as well as Maggie in a duck pond. And we saw the Chinese shame our patriotic tails over and over again.

So naturally, we were excited for the Olympic opportunity to come around again. We watched with bated breath for the opening ceremonies. Who could forget the Beijing opening ceremonies? The boxes are people, THE BOXES ARE PEOPLE! The 2010 opening ceremonies were about as exciting as catnip, which is to say they were disappointing and targeted towards idiots. The following picture is misleading in that it appears to convey an exciting event.

Luckily, the USA is winning in the medal count so far with some very exciting events behind us. Surprisingly, Bode Miller didn't totally choke and actually medaled this time, we well remember his debacles of years past. Apolo Ohno (Salt Lake resident, boo yeah!) made a repeat performance, silver medaling in the 1500m speed skating. Basically, America has been kicking the trash of communists, former Nazis, socialists, and losers from all over the world. We love the Olympics!
We are upset that there are no dog competitions, but we have a few ideas for submission to the Olympic committee.

For the Winter Olympics:
  • An Iditarod-esque dog sledding race
  • Ice fetch (fetching on ice, pretty much exactly what it sounds like)
  • Snow Eating
For the Summer Olympics:
  • Swimming
  • Digging
  • Tug-of-War aka 'Pulley' (Our Aunt Annie would win this one for sure!)
  • Butt-liking (Not really a seasonal sport.)
What do you think? Any dog sports out there you think deserve to be competed against any chien, perro, koira, Hund, or gau?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Book - Mao: The Unknown Story

We love politics! Human pack dynamics are so complicated except at pivotal moments when the opposition chooses to roll over en masse and expose its soft boobies to the pack leader (Democrats to George W. Bush in 2001 and Republicans to President Obama in 2008). While humans are asserting dominance on a small scale every day, it's not often we get to witness it on a grand scale. We are very glad, by the way, that our television news program didn't show Janet Napolitano exposing her boobies in submission to the President after failing to catch the underwear bomber.

Our Fearless Chief of Homeland Security

A Chow Chow we have been courting at the dog park told us a story of a Chinese pack leader who was able to exert dominance over hundreds of millions of people for decades. It was with great interest that we devoured Mao: The Unknown Story by Jung Chang and Jon Halliday.

This exhaustively researched book attacks many of the myths perpetuated by the Chinese Communist Party about its genesis, Mao, and its concern for the peasant. Throughout the text, Mao emerges as monster - concerned with absolutely nothing other than extending his personal sphere of power. He used terror liberally to beat an entire nation into submission. Mao then leveraged this submission to starve tens of millions of Chinese peasants and attempted to purchase international political influence with their food. In fact, the Chinese Communist Party only survived, and took power, because of Stalin's influence and Mao behaved as if he suffered from an inferiority complex the balance of his life. He wasted billions of dollars trying to drive a wedge between the USSR and its satellite states so he could assume power. We assume, had Mao grown up in Idaho, he would have driven a very large truck.

Mao's policies were often ineffective and laden with waste - like his helicopters that not even Pol Pot would accept because of their inability to fly. Mao was also very eccentric (i.e. crazy). He never once took a bath during his reign, preferring instead to be wiped down with towels by his servants, and once declared sparrows as one of the nations 'four pests' and ordered all sparrows destroyed. His anti-sparrow policy was so effective, that he later had to import sparrows from the USSR to reverse adverse ecological effects. We found ourselves drooling at the thought of a world without birds - it was the only Mao policy that we found ourselves in wholehearted agreeance with.

If you have the stomach for a long book that, at times, can be dry - we recommend Mao: The Unknown Story. We gained an appreciation for the incredible resilience of the Chinese people, a greater understanding of the history of a nation that has finally become - after abandoning 'Mao tse-tsung thought' - a superpower, and saw a glimpse into Asian history more broadly. this is the best book we have read in a long time.

We also hope this will help us lure a Chow Chow stud back home from the dog park - what a breed!

The Chow Chow -- fearless and cute

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Politics - President's Day

We apologize for not posting yesterday, we were caught up in the spirit of the holiday. We love the Monday holidays early in the year, especially President's day. We were overtaken with curiosity and Wikipedia-ed the day, which is the celebration of George Washington's birthday. We love George Washington, and find his resemblance to the basset hound uncanny.

The inestimable Mr. Washington.

Washington himself received several basset hounds from the Marquis de Layfette to use in his hunting expedition. We believe that he could not be upset to be compared to the basset hound, "In temperment it is mild, never sharp or timid. It is capable of great endurance in the field and is extreme in its devotion." President Washington was extremely devoted to freedom (though not extremely devoted to his homeland as he defected from Britain).

A basset hound, a regal beast.

"The skin over the whole of the head is loose, falling in distinct wrinkles over the brow when the head is lowered... The muzzle is deep, heavy, and free from snipiness." Washington was full of loose skin, thick jowls, and distinct wrinkles.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Book - The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

Our parents both got Kindles for Christmas, so we've been reading voraciously. Our mother has a leather cover for hers, and it tastes so much better than chewing on a boring paperback. One of the best books that we've read all year is, 'The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie' by Alan Bradley. We love all books that have human foods in the titles. Humans have the most delicious food, and they don't even appreciate it.

Flavia de Luce is a young girl living in a manor in the English countryside. Her passion is chemistry and pranks. She becomes involved in a murder, and uses her chemistry skills, along with quick thinking and street smarts to figure out whodunit.

This book was fun and interesting, which is more than we can say about the cats that live in our neighborhood.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Politics - Scott Brown

Unless, like a cat, you are not capable of processing current events, we're sure you've heard about the heated elections in Massachusetts. Of the candidates vying for the Senate seat vacated by the late Ted Kennedy, Scott Brown beat the Democratic candidate and surprised the nation by being the first Republican elected to the US Senate from Massachusetts since 1972. This is even before our father was born, if you can believe it!

This is Scott Brown.

We believe that Senator Brown's election marks a turning point. A point in the country's history where we will no longer judge a man for posing nude in Cosmo. (Warning, shocking link.) We don't understand humans and their obsession with covering up body parts that they have all seen anyways. It's very egotistical of them to assume that everyone is constantly wondering what they have under all those layers, though come to think of it, your crotch does smell extra interesting today...

Before Scott Brown can begin to disappoint his electorate with his new position however, we would like to take a moment to admire his visage, his long nose, and his uncanny resemblance to the Scottish Terrier.

Look at those strong forelegs!

The AKC says of the Scottish Terrier, "Naturally a 'digger' at heart, the Scottie was originally bred to hunt and kill vermin on farms." This is obviously true of Scott as well. Please consider, for a moment, this picture of his Democratic opponent, Martha Coakley.

She doesn't look all that smart to us.

They could be sisters!

Yup - digging out vermin is a perfect description. The similarities don't stop there. "The Scottish Terrier should have a thick body and heavy bone." Well, Senator Brown did not get to be Cosmopolitan's Sexiest Man by having a thin scrawny body, that's for sure. "He should exude ruggedness and power, living up to his nickname, the 'Diehard.'" Enough said. If you disagree, we recommend looking at his picture again. Being highly discerning bitches when it comes to aesthetics, we appreciate Senator Brown's natural thickness.

The Scottie Dog is known for its "heads up tails up" attitude, and so is Senator Brown. Though there were several setbacks during his campaign, including a series of attack ads claiming he wanted to deny care to rape victims, he rose above it all and continues to make unpopular choices by pledging to filibuster the new healthcare reform bill in the Senate. Filibuster on Senator Brown - we hope your filibuster becomes as famous as Strom Thurmond's signature move! It only needs to be 24 hours and 19 minutes in length, nonstop.

Senator Scott Brown with his thick bone structure, sex-appeal, and conservative politics beat out Martha Coakley for Massachusetts' Senate seat. This is not unlike the way the Scottish Terrier has killed and devoured rats and other rodents for centuries. Good call, America. We love democracy!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Local Trails and Fun - Frozen Hog

Before our father took off for "the Philippines" for "work," he participated in a local bike race known as the Frozen Hog. We are skeptical of his trips, especially the lengthier ones. He frequently comes back smelling of cats and monkeys. We don't want to sound libelous, but we think it likely he is involved in a nefarious catnip smuggling ring. Just saying.

The race trail at Lambert Park.

But before he left, he competed in a mountain biking race at Lambert Park in Alpine, UT. For our out-of-town bitches and studs, it is pretty cold here in February. Alpine sits in the foothills below American Fork Canyon, and there was at least a foot of snow on the trail. If you know our father at all, you know that no amount of snow will prevent him from recreating, especially when his cojones are at stake. (Sadly, most of the dogs we know are sans cojones due to an especially cruel human practice of emasculation...)

There were about a hundred bike racers lined up this Saturday, though the weather was cold and dreary. They started out with a 100 yard "dash" through deep snow at which point the racers all grabbed their bikes. The racers then pushed their bikes for miles through the snow and ice, falling on their faces in the deep snow if they ever attempted to ride their unsteady vehicles. We did not understand this race in the least. Our father was pleased as a bitch with a bone when he finished the race, and he placed 4th in his age category.

Our father, valiant bike (and catnip?) pusher. We're not sure why he needed to buy such an expensive bike if he was only going to schlep it through the snow. Our mother concurs.

We saw several dogs, a few deer, and enjoyed being outside, even if the weather wasn't the greatest. If you're looking to commune with nature, Lambert Park is your place. Also, if you're looking to laugh at a bunch of middle-aged men falling on their faces in a foot of snow, the Frozen Hog will not let you down. This is one of the silliest things our father has participated in (and that's saying something); we will definitely be back next year.

This is the only picture we have of him actually riding his bike. He's about to cross the finish line here. Victory? We're not sure you can say that.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Books - Team of Rivals

While we see the benefit of solidarity in the face of trouble (especially dog whispering), we do not always see eye to eye. Putting two opinionated, ambitious, and intelligent bitches in a room together (or asking them to agree on blog content) can cause conflict. We have always been able to move past this conflict, however, and allow our differences to create a team stronger than the sum of our individual greatness.

Maggie wanted to post on the epidemic of canine obesity this morning, Sammi's opinion won in the end.

While we have heard that humans are capable of teamwork, we understand that they find it far more difficult than canines. To better understand how even the most self interested humans form, maintain, and leverage interpersonal relationships we devoured Doris Kearns Goodwin's Team of Rivals on the recommendation of our Aunt Didi. While not enlightened enough to be a dog owner, Didi seems to make good book recommendations. She was right in this case!

We have never understood the human fascination for Presidents. Presidents, to us, seem to be an odd aberration of humanity - they change their opinions, character, and persona based on the whims of a fickle public. They groom more than a Sharpei in a dog show, and spend their entire life overtly begging others to love them - we know the only thing worth begging for is food. Despite our pre-conceived notions of what a President is, Abraham Lincoln comes across as the quintessential midwesterner. He is completely centered, unflappable, and remarkably calm. His affable personality, and endless capacity for defusing potentially explosive interpersonal situations with stories were unmatched. Some of Lincoln's cabinet members don't come across so sympathetically though.

President Lincoln, for example, chose Edward Stanton to run the War Department during the Civil War. Stanton's capacity to organize and endless energy made him a highly effective leader. But, as an attorney, Stanton publicly humiliated a younger Lincoln with his callousness and arrogance; reconciliation is a broad theme in the book. Not only did Lincoln have to reconcile with his most bitter rivals - and bring them into his cabinet to create a political coalition that could be sustained throughout the war - he had to find a way to reconcile two national factions so contentious, their fighting would lose over half a million lives.

We also enjoyed the context for American slavery and the discussion of the struggle to Emancipate American blacks. We did not know, for example, that Lincoln's first attempt at emancipation would have compensated slave owners and sent all freed slaves to colonize Liberia - many intelligentsia at the time didn't believe that the two races could live together in peace (this is not unlike the way current intelligentsia, as manifested on National Public Radio, feel about conservatives). American Blacks at the time, however, showed a surprising amount of patriotism for the nation that treated them so poorly. They not only expressed a strong connection to their newfound nation, but took up arms en masse to fight for the Union after Emancipation. Interestingly enough, it was the argument of military necessity that allowed Lincoln to actively pursue a policy of Emancipation.

We feel we have a lot in common with President Lincoln. We take our positions as leader of the family pack very seriously, not unlike how Abe took his responsibility as leader of America in a harrowing time. We even think that Maggie looks a bit like this ruggedly handsome president, below is a photo of her looking her most presidential.

We give this book an enthusiastic four paws up. And, perhaps while we are in this position, a kind reader may want to rub our bellies.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Movie - Zombieland

Being social bitches tapped into the zeitgeist of America, we went to see the movie Zombieland in theaters. We laughed so hard we peed a little bit. Actually, Maggie is constantly dribbling, she has incontinence issues. Thanks to a drug called Proin, however, Maggie can leave a relatively normal life only dribbling when things get extra funny, extra scary, or extra sloshy.

Naturally, we broke into Dad's Amazon account (for the Prime) and pre-ordered Zombieland - he really doesn't know how to choose a strong password. Amazon Prime has changed our lives. We no longer have to wait around for ground delivery, but get our hearts desire delivered in 2 days.

Zombieland is a masterpiece. It's a funny movie, but in a unique and quirky way. Mostly we love the gore. Usually, humans shy away from gore. It's as if they are ashamed of their innards. We relish the guts of cats, birds, and any animals really. We particularly enjoy Spring hikes where we can stick our snouts into the carcasses of animals who didn't make the winter. So it was nice to see a movie that showed the truth for once - the world from our perspective.

See, the movie is pretty awesome! It wasn't even too long, we only had to pause it once for Sammi to run outside and go pee. Watch it on Blu-ray today!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Politics - State of the Union

It was with great relish that we tuned into last week's State of the Union address. Watching Speaker Pelosi bounce up and down like her breed-sake JazzyLou always makes us drool with anticipation - she did not disappoint! President Obama is also a powerful speaker, especially in contrast to his predecessor W. While we have enjoyed his previous political speeches, the luster has begun to fade.

In case you were not aware, dogs are evolutionarily advantaged to resist the wiles of political speech writers. Both the Weimareiner and Labrador Retriever have large, floppy ears that - when positioned properly - can block the persuasive sounds of human speech. Last week, for example, Sammi managed to finish digging a very important hole in the garden while mom was yelling at her!

Humans on the other hand, are cursed with exposed ear canals that leave you powerless against President Obama's words - at least when he can see his teleprompter. So, we decided to cover our ears, turn on closed captioning, and critically examine the speech for the benefit of our human readers.

  • Obama: "We have to seek new markets aggressively, just as our competitors are. If America sits on the sidelines while other nations sign trade deals, we will lose the chance to create jobs on our shores. But realizing those benefits also means enforcing those agreements so our trading partners play by the rules."

  • Bitches: We've always know that our problems are caused by the actions of other nations. Every Weimareiner knows that the problems in Germany between World Wars were the Russians fault - Sammi's great grand-stud was the hunting companion of an influential member of the Reichstag! We couldn't agree more - make those 'others' play by our rules. We'll be damned if modern dogs from Labrador or Germany take our blogging jobs.

  • Obama: "At the beginning of the last decade, the year 2000, America had a budget surplus of over $200 billion. By the time I took office, we had a one-year deficit of over $1 trillion and projected deficits of $8 trillion over the next decade. Most of this was the result of not paying for two wars, two tax cuts, and an expensive prescription drug program. On top of that, the effects of the recession put a $3 trillion hole in our budget. All this was before I walked in the door."

  • Bitches: We are happy to understand that President Obama is not responsible for any of the current rash government spending. He looks judicious, and apparently he is as judicious as a bird dog on point. It was at this point in the speech that we could not stop growling at the Republicans in the audience.

  • Obama: "Last week the Supreme Court reversed a century of law that I believe will open the floodgates for special interests -- including foreign corporations -- to spend without limit in our elections. I don't think American elections should be bankrolled by America's most powerful interests, or worse, by foreign entities."

  • Bitches: Good one Barack. We too miss the days when the Supreme Court was biased against those different than us. What ever happened to Justice Taney of Dred Scott fame? He was a true American hero. Plus, if we allowed foreigners to influence elections they may just want to recall some of that debt so carelessly piled up by the previous administration.

Perhaps you could not tell that Maggie and I do not actually agree with many of the tenets of the President's speech - our instructor at the Petsmart school of dog obedience recently taught us about satire as a literary tool. We found one his final remarks to be the most telling:

"When the Union was turned back at Bull Run, and the Allies first landed at Omaha Beach, victory was very much in doubt. When the market crashed on Black Tuesday, and civil rights marchers were beaten on Bloody Sunday, the future was anything but certain. These were the times that tested the courage of our convictions, and the strength of our union. And despite all our divisions and disagreements, our hesitations and our fears, America prevailed because we chose to move forward as one nation, as one people."

We love our country, and we feel that America's diversity is the key to its success. It was a small faction of radical Republicans who pushed for Emancipation and reunification during our Civil War. Civil rights marchers were interlopers in the deep south, they challenged unity in a fundamental way. We are suspicious of any human who feels the need to be leader of a large pack (that includes you Cesar!). So, it is with great conviction that we urge our human friends to look beyond President Obama's resolute tone, charming good looks, and loyal dog. Foreigners, immigrants, and previous administrations did not force consumers, businesses, and government to gorge on unsustainable amounts of debt. Language, skin color, and dependence on foreign oil did not cause our problems. It was cats.

So, when the next State of the Union rolls around, we will not be listening. We prefer to sit at home and lick our privates.

Technology - Blogger

After a grueling day of sleeping and watching professional sports on television, we settled in to write a long blog post. Monday is our favorite day - we are obsessed with politics. Unfortunately, our razor sharp analysis of the State of the Union Address was eaten by blogger. We have tried everything to get it back - barking, chasing our stub (that was just sammi actually), and looking in the browser cache, to no avail.

Sammi's Reaction

We are busy recreating the post and it will arrive no later than Tuesday. Until then, we be drooling in our sleep imagining tearing into the flesh of the developer responsible for this particular Blogger bug...