Sunday, May 31, 2009

Ailing Sheep ... er, Beagle

Katie the Beagle had an upset tummy this morning. Fortunately, she didn't spit up anything all the way onto the floor, but she was coughing up a bit of something, and she wanted to go outside, which is unusual for her in the morning.

Out in her yard she immediately walked over to the hosta bed and began nibbling on the tender tall shoots of grass that poked up among the hostas, selecting out only the tastiest of leafs. By the time I had fetched the paper and made the coffee she had grazed quite a nice patch.

When we returned upstairs with paper and coffee, I told Monique that I believed we might have been mistaken about owning a beagle. Apparently, we owned a sheep.

"How can you tell the difference?" asked Monique.

"I'm not sure. Let's shave her and see if we can knit a sweater from her fur."

(Worry not, Katie the Beagle fans. Though her tummy was indeed upset earlier in the morning, she now seems to be resting quite comfortably and feeling better. And she remains unshaven.)

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Plant Shopping

Heirloom tomatoes,
Hot peppers, thyme, basil, mint,
Rosemary, hops vine,

Zinnias, impatiens,
Gerber daisies, petunias,
Scarlet begonias,

And a blackberry
Plant whose syllables did not
Fit the haiku scheme.

Yet we'll love the blackberry bush, nonetheless.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Three Musketeers (1948) with a cast of favorites

Just passing along a quick movie recommendation, the 1948 version of The Three Musketeers, starring Gene Kelly, Lana Turner, June Allyson, Van Heflin, Angela Lansbury, Vincent Price, and a cast of favorites.

By far the best and worst thing about this version is the casting of Gene Kelly as D'Artagnan, the dashing young French swordsman. In acting scenes, Gene Kelly is a completely ridiculous choice for D'Artagnan. He's such an iconic American presence and emanates such a distinctly American charisma that he's pretty much the least Gallic actor I can think of for the role, short of casting John Wayne -- which, I have to admit, would make for a really interesting and terrible movie, now that I think of it.

But in the fencing scenes Kelly is nothing short of amazing. He is just unbelievably athletic and quick and graceful. It's pretty much everything that made some of his best dancing scenes so memorable, but with a sword.

Fortunately, the rest of the movie is so well cast and so likeable that it becomes relatively easy to overlook the oddity of the smiling 36-year-old Irish American actor trying to project the angst of a French teenager. Lana Turner has a fabulously juicy role as the beautiful and treacherous Lady de Winter, and a lot of other familiar faces tear up the scenery with equal enthusiasm. Vincent Price is especially good as scheming Cardinal Richelieu.

It also makes a really good family film. Not in the "everything is innocuous and bland" Disney kind of way, but in the sense that there's lots in there to entertain both kids and adults alike, without containing anything too terrible for the youngsters to see.

So, flaws and all, I say check it out. It's coming on cable again in just a couple of weeks.

Next cable showing: Wed., June 10, 12:00 PM, TCM (Turner Classic Movies)
Netflix Listing: The Three Musketeers (1948)
IMBD: The Three Musketeers (1948)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Full Day

Full day. Yet another power outage this morning, so no shave, shower, or coffee to start the day. Then a 9 am village shared-services meeting, eight busy hours at work, and a 7 pm village budget work session that lasted until 9:30 or so.

On the bright side, the budget meeting did wrap up in time for me to get home and watch the faceoff that started the third period of the hockey game. The Wings' eventually scored a 2-1 victory in overtime to win the Western Conference.

On to the Stanley Cup Finals! And on to bed!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Three-Day Weekend

Every weekend should be a three-day weekend. A three-day weekend gives you one day for rest, one day for chores, and one day for fun. The chores are necessary and the fun is fun, but the older the get, the more important I find that day of rest.

Or in the case of my own three-day Memorial Day Weekend, three days of rest. (Well, okay, I did wheelbarrow some dirt down to fix up our seawall on Saturday afternoon, and we had Arsen & Brigitte over for dinner yesterday, which was fun. But mostly I took all three days off.)

I could feel the benefits today at work. I had been feeling pretty run down the last few weeks. The cold I brought back from Wyoming didn't help, I suppose. But today I was much more chipper and -- more importantly -- much better able to concentrate on the tasks at hand.

I've always been of the general opinion that rest and sleep are greatly underrated, especially if you're in the thinking biz. I may have come to that opinion in part because of my occasional bouts of insomnia. I can really feel the deterioration in my ability to think the next day if I don't get enough sleep. And indeed I kicked off the weekend by crashing for a good ten hours on Friday night and Saturday morning. I also took a lovely and unplanned two-hour nap on Sunday afternoon when I really just expected to sit down on the couch for five minutes.

I think a couple of months of short-sleep finally caught up with me. Hopefully I have now caught up with it.

And now that my sleep is pretty much caught up, I think I shall make a greater effort to keep it caught up this Summer. It's kind of pleasant to still be coherent for the entire day at work.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Environmentalism: The Land of Complex Systems and Unintended Consequences

I thought this was an interesting editorial from yesterday's Week in Review section in the Sunday New York Times (May 24, 2009): Editorial: Getting Ethanol Right . I haven't gone back to dig up the original news article, but here's the interesting bit:

Congress hoped the ethanol mandate would produce a more climate-friendly fuel that could help reduce oil imports. But just to make sure, it stipulated that ethanol from any source be cleaner than conventional gasoline. It handed the job of measuring emissions to the E.P.A., and told it to consider the fuel’s entire life cycle.

This included counting the greenhouse gases released when forests or grasslands are plowed under and planted to make up for the crops used to make ethanol. When the E.P.A.’s scientists counted these indirect effects, corn ethanol emitted more greenhouse gases than gasoline over a 30-year period.

Yes, you read that correctly. Moving from "dirty" gasoline and diesel to supposedly environmentally friendly ethanol creates more greenhouse emissions than just burning the gasoline and diesel directly. My understanding is that this is because of all the fuel and hydrocarbons used in the farming, fertilizing, and manufacture of the ethanol. This is big news to a lot of people, though I must thank Arsen Darnay for having opened my eyes to this particular reality several years ago. Arsen's taken a great interest in matters of "peak oil" and energy over the past few years, and he had dug up this notice on his own. (I believe it may have been part of his research for an essay in the Encyclopedia of Products and Industries -- Manufacturing, but Arsen if you are reading this and can recall where you wrote up that little snippet, I'd like to revise this entry to properly credit it.)[Arsen subsequently cited David Pimentel's article "Ethanol Fuel: Energy Balance, Economics, and Environmental Impacts are Neagive." as a good starting point.]

What I find most surprising is that this discovery is apparently genuine news to official Washington and the Beltway, and has set policy-makers on their ear. Had nobody done the math beforehand? Not even some paid hack for Exxon-Mobil? This isn't to say that ethanol doesn't have value in local emissions reduction, that there might not be more efficient ways to make it in the future, or that we should abandon ethanol research. But the current process of intensive agriculture to grow corn just isn't a net gain for planet Earth.

One of the other items that Arsen pointed out along those lines is that our current technology for growing all of our food is so heavily reliant on a net input of energy from fossil fuels that a post-peak-oil energy crash may very well lead to a crash in the global food supply. That's a scary thought for a planet with an ever-burgeoning human population.

Mostly, though, I'm interested in the item because it once again points out how very complicated environmentalism can be. Even the simplest and most isolated of biological systems are incredibly complex, and every action is sure to have unintended consequences. We see examples of this all over the place. A century of wildfire suppression in National Forests has created overgrowth that has worsened fire problems. An environmentally minded move away from nuclear power has led to a great increase in power generation from coal, which may pose an even greater threat in the form of greenhouse emissions.

I myself joined our water management board nearly ten years ago with an eye towards finding "greener" ways of managing our lake and soon found myself arguing in favor of the more widespread use of some herbicides because the damage that some invasive plant species (notably Eurasian milfoil and starry stonewort) did to the lake's ecosystem was greater than the damage done by the herbicides. In an ideal world we would never need to use herbicides in our waterways, but in the real world sometimes the most practical approach is the best compromise.

About all we can do is our best to think through all the consequences of our actions, and to be willing to change course when we learn more. In general, I think folks do the best they can with the former, but sometimes I worry that the second is sadly lacking. Right now it seems to me that there could be a strong environmental case to be made for pro-nukes and anti-ethanol policies. Yet I doubt the environmental movement is ready to go there.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

My Smelly Wife

So Monique and I were lazing about and reading the Sunday papers in bed this morning, as is our way, when suddenly Monique yells out, "Ooooh, a smelly!" and she pulls some sort of open-'n-sniff perfume card out of the advertisement pile. Then she opens it open, snorts deeply, waves it around in front of my nose -- it was some sort of citrus-y smell -- rubs it on her wrist, and then tucks it under her pillow.

"Oooh, another!" is the next thing I hear, and another open-'n-sniff ad goes through the same treatment, but this one gets tucked into the sheets. Our bed has now been thorougly smellied.

And where was the biggest smell in the household -- Katie the Smelly Beagle -- during all this? She was curled up safely over in her bed in the office, safe from any smelly-rubbing at all. I guess it is true that dogs can anticipate danger!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Restful Friday Evening

After a really, really busy week, chock full of assorted village governance, a couple of genuine work annoyances, and a work project that genuinely perplexed me, I rolled into Friday afternoon and the start of the Memorial Day weekend generally aggravated and plum tuckered out.

So, after taking care of a couple of chores, I tracked down a container of worms at a local store. Then I spent my evening fishing off the pontoon boat as it sat moored to our dock, quaffing a few delicious Sierra-Nevada Pale Ales, and listening to the ballgame on the radio. Eventually Monique made her way down to the boat, too, and we both sat on the boat at dock listening to the ball game. It was kind of like a little pontoon cruise without even the effort of steering. Once it started to get dark we headed up to the house, and grilled a few hot dogs for dinner. Then we turned on the tube, watched the end of the Tiger game and the Red Wing game. And not too long after that, Monique, Katie the Beagle, and I were all sleeping soundly.

I hardly caught any fish -- one little sunny -- but that was fine with me, since I wasn't really trying too hard to catch fish. I was just trying to catch a little peace and quiet, and succeeded in that.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Beagle Howls at Sunrise

Just before dawn this morning Katie the Beagle erupted into the most mournful howl I have ever heard*, the sort of blood-curdling howl that could only come from a hound suffering a broken heart.

Katie's awful howl woke both Monique and I from deep sleeps instantly. Monique reached down to pet her and to find out what was wrong ... and Katie woke up. She had been sleep-howling.

I hate to think of the beagle dream that created that howl. I prefer to think that Katie mostly dreams about happily chasing rabbits through grassy meadows. And indeed, most of her other sleep activities are limited to the occasional scurry of feet or somnabulent yip that would accompany such a dream. I like that our little rescue beagle is a much happier, much more secure pooch than when she arrived in our world fifteen months ago. So I hate to think that anything from her past might still haunt her.

I'm sure anybody who heard that pre-dawn howl would have considered it an ominous portent. When we all got up for good a couple of hours later, Katie seemed as happy and carefree as ever. But I have to admit that I've been a bit spooked all day by the memory of that sound.

*How awful was Katie's howl? If werewolves on the moors of Scotland had heard that howl they would have said, "Let's go back inside. It's way too spooky out here." If Alan Ginsburg had heard that sound he would've changed the name of his masterwork from "Howl" to "Mild Complaint." Tornado sirens across the county have been handing in their resignations all day saying, "We've got nothing."

No kidddin'. It was terrible. I've heard Katie howl before and it doesn't compare. I had no idea such a little dog could make such a sad, horrifying noise, and I would prefer to never hear it again.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Katie's Best Thing Ever

Monique fell asleep on the couch last night.
Katie the Beagle soon joined her.

We should all hope that one day
We can feel the same sense of satisfaction
About anything
That Katie feels
When she has curled up behind Monique's legs
And joined the center of her universe
In sleep.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Busy weekend report, in stream-of-consciousness format

(Just trying out something a little different today. Let me know if you think it's interesting, unreadable, or both.)

Well, let's see, we might as well start with Friday afternoon when I called in sick to work during a work-at-home day which is the most pathetic thing I've ever heard of, but the ridiculous mild cold had worn me out and I had gotten to this point at which I was just staring at my computer and unable to think or do anything much productive and I didn't think it was right to do that on the company dime when I could just do it for free, so I took my temperature and found out I still had a smidge of temperature, 99.2 F, so I gobbled a bit of ibuprofen and took a nap and felt better afterwards, so I did a bit of cleanup around the house and called DirecTV to get our antenna fixed (again) probably because something came loose from the mid-January repair after the windstorm but I can't really blame the guy because he was working 2-1/2 stories up on a ladder in ten-degree weather so it's not surprising he didn't get it quite right and I had an interesting conversation with the DirecTV customer service rep while we were waiting for my receiver to reboot because they make you go through all of the steps before scheduling a service call even if you've already done it before and know it's either the damn antenna being misaligned or a transceiver problem on the dish, but it turns out that this guy wanted to chat a bit about the phrase "war on drugs" and some of the real devestation it has wrought on some of his family members including this cousin of his in Chicago who got convicted of a drug felony and now can't get a cosmetology license to work as a barber which is just ridiculous and a disproportionate drain on the African American community as a whole because so many black guys do work as barbers, anyway it was a much more interesting conversation than the usual hold music, so kudos to DirecTV for having an interesting customer service dude to talk to while my receiver rebooted, and after that I cooked us a little dinner since I was feeling better, a deep-dish pizza pie with artichoke hearts, green peppers, mushrooms, and Italian sausage and it turned out to be extremely delicious I think I am getting the hang of that new addition to my kitchen repertoire practice-makes-perfect and I am very willing to practice making and eating deep-dish pizza pies, which was about the end of productivity for me so we watched the Tiger game and a bit of other television and called it an early night because I had to get reasonably early the next morning to go play rugby in Toledo.

CRASH! In the middle of the night lightning and thunder and poor little Katie the Beagle who is very brave about squirrels and rabbits but not about inexplicable lightning displays or floor-rattling thunder poor little Katie went back and forth around our bed digging for a safer spot and mostly just looking for a little assurance that the people were keeping an eye on things and that all was okay so I turned on my light and read one of my Knights of the Dinner Table Bundle of Trouble collections for a bit, now that I have them all I'm going back and re-reading them in order, and I petted Katie occasionally and then fell back asleep around four am.

In the morning throwing my rugby gear in the bag I couldn't find my mouthpieces, but they turned out to be right on top of the drawer, and then I loaded up on Sudafed and ibuprofen and drove down to Toledo in the rain to play in our old boy match and it was great to see all the guys and have a bit of a run around, which I survived in much better shape than I expected with three or four quite nice plays amid a lot of general gasping for breath because I really am in generally poor cardiovascular shape these days -- must work on that -- and the sun came out by the end of the game so we sat about and watched a couple games during the tournament and shot the shit and made a few general plans and I stayed away from the beer -- well, okay, one post-game LaBatts -- 'cause I was so full of cold medicine plus I wanted to get a bit of cleanup and erranding done when I got home since we were going to have dinner guests on Sunday, then I drove back on home where I fixed little Anna's bike handlebars then fetched propane and filled Sprout's gas tank and picked up some spackle to hopefully start patching a few problems this week and then I watched the Preakness on DVR with a mint julep even though it wasn't the Kentucky Derby, but it was a really good race, that Rachel Alexandra is a good horse and Mine That Bird is for real, despite a bad run and getting blocked around the rail I think he would've caught her if he had another furlong to run, and between rugby and cold medicine and mint julep that was pretty much the end of productivity for the day so I checked out my rugby bruises -- a nice cleat-mark on the inside of my right shin and a really interesting bruise on my left shoulder where I hit something or someone pretty hard and actually bruised the stitches of my jersey into my shoulder, never done that before -- then I futzed with the fantasy baseball team a bit on the computer, watched the Tiger game and then a couple of Star Trek episodes, the second of which put Monique to sleep on the couch, so I covered her with a blanket but I wish either one of us had thought to turn the heat back on because it got chilly on Saturday night and she was sleeping under just one blanket on the couch and I was by myself upstairs and although Katie the Beagle joined her on the couch there just wasn't enough body heat sharing overall to have an unheated house on a cold night.

Sunday dawned crisp and sunny and it was too bad that Monique's Mom had to cancel on their planned flower-and-plant outing because of her injured back, I hope she feels better soon, and I read the paper for a bit before going off to the last day of the Motor City Comic Con where generally I just wander about, but this year I had a couple of genuine to-do lists on my list including getting autographs from Ron Frenz and Tom Buscema on the Amazing Spider-Girl pages that I've picked up over the last few years, buying a few page portfolios to better store and organize the original-art pages that I've been collecting, plus I wanted to drop a MapQuest map off with Ryan, since he and his girlfriend Candace were stopping by after the con for dinner and a pontoon boat cruise, and my tasks complete I then bumped around a bit and checked things out, picked up a few new indie comics -- I'd already loaded up on several of the local guys at the Michigan State comic forum in March, and then I dug through a box under some dude's table and found eight more Savage Sword of Conans cheap to continue to fill out my Savage Sword collection, one day I'll have the full run and read them all in order, sure it's not the deepest goal in the world, but it is kind of a fun one, and generally wandered about checking out booths and costumes -- the best were a guy in a fabulous Doctor Octopus get-up with big gangling arms boinging around and this tall blond girl at a horror film booth who would've been wearing just another goth-lingerie getup with fangs except that she turned and smiled at me and she had blood-red contacts in her eyes which was pretty cool and a bit unsettling -- and I picked up a few trade paperbooks for five-beans each, which was a sweet deal -- and it was a pretty lively show, more so than the last couple of years and at least a couple of the dealers I talked to thought it was because the feature guest was Carrie Fisher and she had drawn a big crowd, which reminds me that I really and truly must tell the real-life story of why I have a photograph of Carrie Fisher's key ring, then I headed home to complete pre-dinner-and-cruise tasks, the vast majority of which had already been done by Monique who took the occasion as an opportunity for general Spring cleanup and really did a great job of cleaning everything, though I wish Brigitte had been up for the flower outing since it was a great day for it and also because I felt more than a bit guilty about galavanting about all weekend while Monique cleaned and vacuumed, but everything was ready by the time Ryan and Candace stopped by at six and we had a really nice dinner -- chicken ka-bobs, followed by chestnut puree and whipped cream for dessert -- and a really good sunset cruise, lots of interesting get-to-know-you chit-chat, since they're both really interesting people and found themselves living in Michigan perhaps a bit unexpectedly -- boy, don't I know what that is like?! -- and seem to be settling in comfortably in East Lansing where they both teach, she's a professor of African Art and he's been instructing visual arts and MSU's first comic studio art class, which is sort of how Ryan and I met in the first place, since Monique and I met him at a comic-talk back in December after I had read couple of his autobiographical comics, which reminds me that he also gave us a very neat print of this little drawing that's hard to describe, but this being the Internet and all I will just post a photo, voilá:

... which I'm not quite sure where I'll put, perhaps in my cube at work, and anyway the point is that it all made for an extremely pleasant, interesting, and fun evening shindig, plus the sunset was great and even though it was pretty chilly on the lake we were all well bundled up, and Katie the Beagle was at her most charming and is now the first of our clan to make it onto Twitter, at least photographically, so a good time was had by all, and then after Ryan and Candace headed back to East Lansing -- they're going to spend six weeks in Africa in Mali this Summer, how fun! -- Monique and I watched the Survivor finale, which we had been recording on the DVR, and as I bring this thing to a close I won't even begin to defend our Survivor habit here, except to say that I still find it to be one of the most consistently interesting and fun shows on television, then we called it a night, a busy and productive weekend having been brought to a successful conclusion and the doldrums of last week's annoying-and-mild cold having been shaken for good.

A very good weekend, indeed.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Let's go, Red Wings! (Clap! Clap! Clap-clap-clap!)

The Detroit Red Wings managed to score a goal with about five minutes left last night to win their Game 7 playoff game with the Anaheim Ducks by a score of 4-3 in a hockey game that was genuinely fun to watch. The Wings now go on to the Western Conference finals against the Chicago Blackhawks, while the Ducks go back to Anaheim to do whatever it is that waterfowl do at Disney Land in the offseason.

After a disappointing effort from the 2008 Detroit Tigers and the utter disaster of an 0-16 Detroit Lions that seemed to symbolize our regional implosion, we've had a couple of nice little sports team successes around here. The first came when Michigan State's men's basketball team advanced to the NCAA Finals in a Final Four held here in Detroit at Ford Field. The second is this nice NHL post-season run by the Red Wings. The good run by the Red Wings isn't entirely unexpected, since they won the Stanley Cup last year and were very good during the regular season this year. But it has been fun so far.

On a list of things that are important for quality of life for an area, I would list "professional sports" well out of the top 100 issues. And yes, I include major college sports as "professional sports" as should anybody who has ever taken a look at that system. (I would, however, list "youth sports" a good deal higher on that list, since I believe that youth sports do serve an important educational purpose.)

But there is no getting around the fact that a good performance by the local lads is a bit of a mood lifter. With all the bad news in Detroit and Michigan these days, an early playoff exit by the Wings would've been just another item on a long, long list of Detroit bummers. Victory over the formerly Mighty Ducks doesn't change the facts on the ground hereabouts by one iota, but it does add a bit of cheer to an otherwise grim Spring. And that does make the load a bit easier to carry, a genuinely good thing.

So, "Let's go, Red Wings!" (Clap! Clap! Clap-clap-clap!)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Trying my best to keep politics off the 'boat...

... but I can't resist just a smidge of soapboxing this evening.

I just got back from presiding over our May village council meeting. I shan't go into the issues, but among other things I've spent a lot of the last month being accused by members of the public -- in both meetings and in the press -- of underhandedness because in our April meeting our council made a decision on an agenda item forwarded to us from one of our boards that literally ended with the words "... and send to council for a decision."

I seriously fear that a lot of people really don't understand how representational democracy works. It involves electing people to make decisions for your community as a whole. In fact, without going too deeply into some of the details, much of the system is set up to force your elected officials to make decisions. And decide they shall.

I also fear that the level of toxic cynicism about our government has grown to the point that some people are no longer capable of seeing when their government is working correctly. The level of cynicism and paranoia that I see on a regular basis around our village government is truly astonishing sometimes.

Mind you, other than a venomous 15-20 minutes of public comment, tonight's meeting was a good one filled with items of genuine import to our village. But good heavens, sometimes I get home and shake my head and wonder what has gone wrong with people's brains.

If it's been a while since you've done so, go attend one of your local government meetings, folks, and take a look at what they're up to for yourself. I think we'd all be a lot better off if more people really understood what's going on.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Home again, home again, jiggedy jig

We're back from our visit with Mike, Cathy, and Zoe. And yet again I seem to have picked up a virus while traveling.

I'm not oinking after I sneeze, and I don't seem to have developed an insatiable need for prosciutto, so I don't think it's the swine flu. This one is just a garden-variety cold, but it was feisty enough to persuade me to stay home from work today, my first day back. This time poor Monique has joined me in the travel virus, so she's stuffed and sniffling, too. As usual, she's been much braver about the whole thing and has bravely done useful things that involved going outside the house: buying medications, grocery shopping, and driving all the way to Grosse Pointe and back to rip Katie the Beagle from her life of luxury with Arsen and Brigitte.

I'm starting to think that I could get the same effect as modern travelling if I just wedged myself into a space way too small for me for four or five hours, then walked down to the local medical lab and licked a random petri dish. It'd be a lot cheaper, that's for sure.

Other than the germ warfare, the trip itself was dandy. The pretext for the visit was that Mike picked up four tickets for The Dead down in Denver. So we flew into Denver to watched The Dead (a fabulous show, I'll try to blog about the show itself elsewhen) on Thursday night. Mike and I drank too much beer, per what we thought was our clever plan. Friday morning we didn't think the plan had been nearly so clever, but we rallied for the trip back to Casper.

In Casper we went to see the Wyoming Cavalry arena football team on Friday night, drove around and did some sightseeing on Saturday, and took Cathy out for a lovely Mothers' Day brunch at a place called The Jazz Spot. (Oddly, The Jazz Spot played videos of the early 1970s Johnny Cash Show all the time we were there. I guess Johnny Cash passes for a jazz singer in Casper, Wyoming.)

Sunday afternoon we napped. Well earned.

It was great to finally see Casper and where Mike and Cathy have been living. And it was also a lot of fun to spend some niece-inspectin' time with little baby Zoe. That's one cheerful baby. Too bad that she's obviously destined for a life behind bars:

Monday, May 11, 2009

Homecoming Haiku

Back from Wyoming,
But not home ... until we fetch
Katie the Beagle.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Extremely Local News Report, April 27 - May 6, 2009

Here's a quick update on the "Extremely Local News" front. Alas, I didn't have time this evening to also format the comments because I'm off to a village meeting and then packing for the weekend expedition to the Mountain Time Zone, but if you join Facebook and friend me* you can read them all yourself.

*I'm pretty sure this sort of offer is how Amway works, too.

The Extremely Local News Report, April 27 - May 6, 2009

John Magee is vaguely under the weather today, but with no idea why. Perhaps it's withdrawal symptoms after monitoring the NFL Draft for three days straight. Maybe it's psychosomatic suggestion from nonstop swine-flu pandemic panic. Or possibly I've just got a raging case of Spring Fever with developing complications from incipient Summertime Blues. April 27 at 2:25pm
Yesterday, 80 degrees. Today, 42 degrees. I am impressed by your Cold Front Fu, Mr. Weatherman. April 28 at 12:45pm
John Magee just discovered this entry from a 1347 A.D. scroll entry on Monkbook: "OMG, the town criers are waaay overreacting to this 'flea flu.' They need to pay more attention to real disasters like the upcoming lunar eclipse. The Black Death won't turn out to be any worse than last year's Purple Death scare." April 30 at 1:26pm
John Magee is going to be a bachelor this weekend, and "Caddyshack" is playing at the Redford Theater this weekend. Coincidence? I think not. April 30 at 10:41pm
John Magee is really looking forward to workin' on the pontoon boat this weekend to get it ready to go in the lake. Good times loom! May 1 at 5:19pm
John Magee was reduced to plucking mint-plant shoots for his Kentucky Derby mint julep. Yet more botanical proof that it's been a long, cold Spring. (Our first daffodil just bloomed yesterday. Strange stuff.) Fortunately, the julep was still tasty and the Derby was a classic! May 2 at 7:39pm
John Magee is feeling pretty lazy today, despite three big mugs of coffee. How did it get to be 2 pm so soon, anyway? Sun 2:15pm
John Magee charged the batteries, swept the decks, repaired the front left navigation light, fixed a bit of wood damage rewired two right-side speakers, blew and replaced a fuse, and is now ready to declare the pontoon boat generally lakeworthy for the summer. (It could still use some touch-up paint, but then again so could we all.) Sun 10:17pm
John Magee is sleepy in his cubicle for no good reason. Maybe I'll have another cup of bad office coffee. It probably won't wake me up, but the bitter taste will distract me from my sleepiness. Mon 4:32pm
Not only am I über-geeked that the new Star Trek movie is scoring 100% on the TomatoMeter thus far, but I've also got this song stuck in my head: Tue 5:02pm
Congratulations to Dave Bing, the next mayor of Detroit. And good luck! That is not an easy gig. Tue 11:46pm
John Magee was rockin' out to Madonna's "Material Girl" on the XM 80's channel as he drove in to work this morning. So wrong. But so right.Today 9:32am
John Magee notes that if you Google "beagle haiku" you get 75,000 results, and my blog has now risen all the way to #4. However, I would like to point out that the Patio Boat blog is really a full-service stop for *all* of your Katie the Beagle poetry needs: My Beagle, My Assistant. Today 6:32 pm

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

My Beagle, My Assistant: Take Two

(Because I don't think the haiku version quite worked.)

My Beagle, My Assistant

The old orange pontoon boat
Sat on our concrete driveway
Waiting on its Spring maintenance.

While I crawled underneath
Wrangling wrenches and wires,
Katie the Beagle helped me
By chasing squirrels.

I am sure she thought
I needed the protection,
My brave, bold beagle.

She chased one squirrel
Up the telephone pole.
She chased another
All the way across the street.

Then, her work done,
She basked on the warm concrete,
Soaking up the sun,
Rolling on her back,
Asking for a belly rub.

Thank you, little beagle.
You helped more than you can know.

Star Trekkin' Across the U. in Verse

From: Campbell-Droze, Mary
Subject: To Boldly Glow Where Treks Have Dawned Before

[and not, To Moldily Go Where Unknowns Have Gone to Spore]

I dare to hope that this will work
And not croak like Bill Shatner's Kirk!
(But, of course, it must be said:
Is any 'Trek' star EVER dead?)
A refreshed franchise sounds divine
To us who bailed after "Deep-Sixed" Nine!
I wish these newbies no ill will---
They've got pretty big boots to fill!
Speaking of boots, I'm sure Chris Pine
Can pull his on (and off) just fine,
And Urban will nail his "Dammit, Jim!"
Despite having led the Rohirrim;
Simon Pegg's a plus as Scotty
(Just hope his burr is not too spotty)
And Quinto's Vulcan's sure to please
…Pine's brows could *also* use a tweeze…
But mostly, here's the gist of it:
Not to turn 'Trek' into s##t!
Abrams will feel our Trekkie rage
Before you can say "TOS.1 - 'The Cage'"!
- Meanwhile, Picard patiently
- Sips hot, non-poncy Earl Grey tea.

From: Magee, John
RE: To Boldly Grow Where Treks Have Rhymed Before

We who watched that Enterprise crap
Second Mary’s Trekker rap
I hope they got someone to write
A screenplay worthwhile on first night
‘Cause if this movie’s not a hit
Abrams' future ain’t worth s***.

How will it fare with critics, fans?
Will we renew our old Trek banns?
Mary’s dream arrived to greet her:
A one-hundred score on TomatoMeter!


From: Campbell-Droze, Mary
Subject: RE: To Boldly Grow Trekkie Cred of Long Before

Great news! …but should one refer to me,
I'm not a "Trekker"---I'm a proud "Trekkie"!

From: Magee, John
Subject: RE: To Boldly Go and Mary's Trekkie Cred Restore

I did not mean to thus offend.
At warp speed, apologies I send.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

My Beagle, My Assistant: in Three Haiku.

Katie the Beagle
Helped me fix the pontoon boat
By chasing squirrels.

I am sure she thought
I needed the protection,
My brave, bold beagle.

Then she basked on warm
Concrete, soaking up sun and
A belly rub. ... Thanks!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Monique is away in Milwaukee this weekend

While the wife's away, the mice will write haiku.

Bachelor weekend:
Casinos, dancing girls? ... Nope.
Beagle and dishes.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Movie Review - "Let the Right One In" ("Låt den rätte komma in")

"Let the Right One In" ("Låt den rätte komma in") is without a doubt the best low-budget Swedish pre-teen vampire flick that I have ever seen.

Given that introduction, this next sentence won't be a surprise: it's kind of a strange movie. If I had to compare it to other movies, I'd say that it's "My Life As A Dog" meets "Salem's Lot". If you've seen both of those movies, you know what a strange mix that would be. (BTW, I haven't seen "Twilight", so I really can't give you a head-to-head comparison with this year's big-budget American pre-teen vampire flick. )

Overall, I really liked it and it's going to stick with me. There are some wonderfully strange and beautiful visuals in it. Those scenes are interspersed with some pretty gruesome and bloody scenes. And the day-to-day life of the boy at the heart of it is every bit as horrific as the vampire stuff in some ways. I won't say much about the story, so as not to give anything away, because figuring it all out is part of what made watching this movie fun. But there are some wonderfully haunting images and plot points.

It's the best scary movie that I've seen in a long time. Make it a late-night rental and curl up on the couch with somebody warm. It'll make an excellent Halloween rental for folks when that season comes around.

(Foreign Flick Note: Monique and I watched it in Swedish with English subtitles, but our Blu-Ray disk also had a dubbed English-language version. In fact, the disk defaulted to the English-language dubbing, but we generally prefer to watch foreign movies in the original language if the subtitling is decent, which it was.)