Friday, July 20, 2012

Wimsey's Blog: Diary of a Manhattan Bloodhound #270

Entry #270
July 20, 2012

Hello Everyone, it’s me, Wimsey coming to you from Manhattan’s Upper West Side where we finally have had a break from the heinous heat that has been plaguing much of the City in general and me in particular.  And true to my breed type, when I am a plague-ee I rapidly turn into a plague-er much to the discomfort and annoyance of my human Maria and her friend Elizabeth both of whom are on the receiving end of most everything I do.
Well the big news this week is the Landlordian Powers That Be have taken it into their heads to redecorate the hallways of Maria’s apartment building—my primary residence when I am not spending my afternoons over at Elizabeth’s minimizing her work time and maximizing my scratching time.  I have established quite a rapport with these decorators who, as they are usually eating lunch when I emerge for my midday walk, I find strangely fascinating.  

The feeling is mutual and although the verbal communication is conducted entirely in Spanish I understand their admiration perfectly. And of course it is important that Elizabeth, who speaks no Spanish (except for those words related to alcohol and food), has managed to master the one truly important phrase in Spanish (or in any language for that matter): “Mira el sabueso grande!”   This elicited flattering cries of “muy, muy grande” which I took either as a signal of approbation for my size or an indication that Elizabeth, who is small, looks ridiculous walking me, who is not.

Anyway, the reality of the decorating situation is that, owing to the current rainy and humid conditions paint is not drying on the walls and concrete and tile grout are not drying on the floors. This conjured up the image of a paint, and grout bespeckled Wimsey, so on Wednesday night Maria broke the news to  Elizabeth that I was hers for the night. More accurately speaking, she was mine as I decided that I required an extensive walk around the neighborhood before going to bed and then attempted to break into a closed pet shop on the way home.

And as usual Elizabeth took an Ambien (Stilnox for those of you in Europe) hoping to get at least some sleep.  But sadly they do not conduct clinical trials for sleep aids with large, deep chested and resonantly snoring Hounds next to the bed.  Especially not those that like to have dreams that involve tail thumping, running and emitting mini-baying noises.  But she did drift off a bit at which point it was 3:15am and time for some nice crunchy kibble and a loudly slurped bowl of water. I considerately alerted her to the forthcoming snack activity by engaging in some prolonged and vigorous ear flapping next to her head so she would be sure not to miss any of the proceedings. I also knew that she would want to rinse the drool out of my water bowl and refill it as I require. Starbucks owes me the big bucks.
The next morning was cloudy and cool and as Elizabeth was eager to get back to a project that she was working on, I decided that we should spend the morning in Central Park instead. It was lovely. And on the way home we dropped by Unleashed where after an exhausting round of sniff shopping I selected a rawhide.  I am very particular in the matter of my rawhides and if my humans purchase the wrong kind it ends up decorating my toy pile. 

In general, I have been spending quite a bit of time in pet stores lately as the search is on for yet another new food.  I began licking my paws which convinced my humans that I had become allergic to an old food that I had recently been switched back to. This resulted in a quick change to something completely new—Blue Buffalo Wilderness Salmon, even though its fat content has some serious gas potential. 

But after the licking problem persisted and following a quick chat with the vet it was decided that it is more probable that all the tush-related clavamox that I have been taking has made me into a rather yeasty fellow.  It was then that the ladies noticed that I did smell rather like I could cause bread to rise. Tomorrow we are all caucusing chez vet to figure out the best way to de-yeast me.  In the meantime my humans haunt the Internet and pet stores analyzing and inspecting foods.  I don’t really care what they end up choosing as long as it is very expensive and hard to get your hands on. Like me.

Anyway, much to my chagrin I did have to go home yesterday (Maria is a sound sleeper) but the decorating is still incomplete so I may be back with Elizabeth periodically.  And there is always our afternoons together where I like to enliven her telephone meetings with loud ear flapping close to the phone.  I mean if you have long, pendulous ears you might as well use them as Nature intended—to annoy people.

And speaking of annoying (and when are we not) I have to admit that the recent hot weather has not brought out my best side. When Elizabeth came over Sunday so we could all go out for our usual park walk together, I lay on my side so deeply pressed into Maria’s bed that my humans decided that I looked like a flounder.  It’s amazing how flat I can make myself when I am lying comfortably on a cushy surface in the air conditioning and someone approaches me with a collar and leash.  

Now I know that several of you have requested either a picture or a drawing of me in the character of this FlounderHound but Maria has so far been unable to capture the true essence of it. She will keep trying, however. Anyway, I had my revenge (and when do I not) by dragging the ladies on a scenic tour of my favorite Central Park water features.
And in some celebrity news not about me, Terry O’Quinn, who played John Locke on Lost moved into our friend Nancy’s building.  I don’t know that Nancy and her family should be getting on an airplane anytime soon.  Maybe not even on the elevator. If she gets taken to The Island who is going to feed me the contents of her daughter’s stroller? Anyway, I am hoping that I run into him at some point—sliming celebrities is what New York’s all about. After all one of the things that they say they like about living here is that they get treated like everybody else.

But now more about me.  Those of you who read this blog know that several weeks ago we had a visit from our friend Virve and her husband who are owned by a very handsome black and tan Finnish bloodhound.  Well we bloodhounds have our tentacles (and paws) everywhere, even in the northern reaches of Scandinavia; it turns out that Virve is a reporter for a bloodhound magazine—the kind that has pictures and stories about us, not the kind that we eat. We just received the latest issue and there is an article about me and some very good looking pictures—I especially like the one of Maria squatting down to serve me a bowl of water from a fountain in Central Park.  I think that encapsulates both the spirit of the piece and the spirit of our relationship. As Paul Rinehart the founder of my brewery, Baying Hound Aleworks so aptly put it, we bloodhounds don’t have owners, we have staff.

Well I think I will leave it there for this week.  I am off to brush up on my Spanish as in “Por favor Senor, fork over that lunch!”

Until next time,

Wimsey-- Spanish, English, French, Italian, German, Finnish, Hungarian, Dutch, Esperanto…etc. for Gimme That.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Wimsey's Blog: Diary of a Manhattan Bloodhound #269

Entry #269
July 13, 2012

Hello Everyone, it’s me, Wimsey with another quick and dirty (especially the dirty part) summer post from the Big Apple which this week resembled more of a Baked Apple.  But the Upper West Side of Manhattan where I live thrives in all weathers—we New Yorkers complain a lot but we are tough.  You have to be to pay a king’s ransom to live in a closet-- not to mention enduring the running commentary of one’s fellow citizens on everything from one’s clothes to the fact that one is accompanied by a very large, very smelly, very drool flinging very loudly baying Hound.  Some people are charmed, others are horrified.  But everyone lets you know.
And speaking of horrified, the hallway outside my apartment (my human Maria thinks it’s her apartment but I know that it is mine, and so is her friend Elizabeth’s where I spend my afternoons) is being painted. Now this was discovered when Elizabeth came to pick me up for our walk (or our dart between air conditioned apartments, depending upon your point of view) this afternoon.  She generally peers out of the peephole to see if there’s anything calamitous in our way (like the upstairs ginger cat or a neighbor with a bag full of tasty smelling groceries) before we exit. 

This time there was a painter applying a very attractive yellowish cream paint on the wall just outside my door.  Well I decided that the wall needed a faux finish of swirled Hound hairs (black and tan harmonizing wonderfully with the chosen color).  Elizabeth and I, however, had quite a disagreement about the aesthetics of my choice.   I just felt (and acted) as if a magnet were drawing me to lean on that wall and the harder Elizabeth tried to push me to the opposite wall the harder I leaned towards the freshly painted one.  She should know by now that if she really didn’t want me to lean on that wall she should have said “Look Wimsey, a freshly painted cream colored wall! I’ll give you a cookie if you go and lean on it and smear yourself all over the paint!” Fortunately the painter had a sense of humor—people usually do when they are not the ones being humiliated.

But I was speaking about the resilience of New Yorkers in the face of this week’s heat-- Central Park was a hive of activity on Sunday.  It’s hard to see but here I am preparing an attempt to crash a performance of Hamlet going on behind me.  I think that a large Hound charging into the action would add a touch of drama of which Shakespeare would have approved (for those unfamiliar with the play, I refer you to my post of August 14, 2009 for a Twitter synopsis).

Anyway, this week I am spoiled for choice about what to talk about—July 10th was my idol Marcel Proust’s birthday; a great literary figure like myself who turned his life into art and was consequently forced to endure the hostility of those around him who objected to how they were portrayed.  I can relate. My humans not only resent the fact that I portray them as disheveled, smelly idiots badly in need of a life (methinks the ladies do protest too much) but they are terrified that someone I discuss will read about themselves.  I could also have revealed my plans for a Proustian sequel, “Remembrance of Hounds Past” in which the smell of Hound stink rather than of a tasty madeleine cake, takes the narrator back in time to his childhood where he never got to experience the taste of madeleines because his Hound stole them from him. But I won’t.

I could also have discussed the fact that today is Friday 13th and all the things that could befall a Hound’s beleaguered humans on this day (like the liquor store running out of gin), but I won’t.  Instead of Friday 13th I will discuss Saturday 14th which is Bastille Day, a day on which I like to honor my French heritage.  Generally this takes the form of sliming someone wearing couture, but this time, I have unearthed a first hand account of how we bloodhounds came to be established in Europe from the court annals of one of my ancestor’s humans, the Sieur de Baskerville.

Court Annals of Le Sieur de Baskerville

Le Comte Wolfe de Blitzer: Bienvenue mes amis. Merci for joining us.  Aujourd’hui we are talking with the Sieur de Baskerville, head of the Knights of the Round Table Full of Foie Gras.

Sieur de Baskerville:  Merci M. le Comte de Blitzer for having me.  But I am afraid that the Round Table has not been full of foie gras since we returned from the Holy Land with those loud, food-filching Hounds.

Le Comte Wolfe de Blitzer: Yes, I want to ask you about that. How did that happen? What were you thinking of!?

Sieur de Baskerville:  I wish I knew.  It was a Saturday night in the Holy Land and we marauding knights had had a few too many glasses of mead and decided to maraude.  Everyone thinks that international assignments are very glamorous but really all the gold and the silk and the spices and the exotic women are pretty boring.  Anyway, we decided to go out looking for some unicorns when we saw these amazing baggy creatures instead.

Le Comte de Blitzer: Where were they?

Sieur de Baskerville:  That’s the thing.  They were on the property of some mega rich sultan so we assumed that they were very valuable. We did what any self-respecting marauding knight would do.  We stole them.

Le Comte de Blitzer: And when did you realize your mistake?

Sieur de Baskerville: Do you mean before or after we got a whiff of them?  Did I mention that they not only smell, but that they also produce smell? But I’m getting ahead of myself.  Well, the sou really dropped when we sat down for our usual a post-pillaging snack and this unleashed a cacophony not heard since the Duke of Burgundy bought the Duchess the wrong color barbette.  I mean some knights were putting their helmets back on to try and block it out.

Le Comte de Blitzer: And then what happened?

Sieur de Baskerville: Our food disappeared.  I mean they were relentless—food was snatched from right under our noses and from right out of our mouths.  Then they chased Cook out of his kitchen and had the contents of the larder as well.

Le Comte Blitzer: I can see why they thrived here in France—we admire an appreciation of fine food.

Sieur de Baskerville: Well unfortunately it wasn’t just food they had an appreciation of.  Fabric is apparently high on their list too—clothing, bedding, seigniorial banners, you name it, they had it. Have you any idea what they can do to a tent?

Le Comte de Blitzer:  I think I have some idea. Well why didn’t you just take them back?

Sieur de Baskerville: But that would have been admitting not only that we stole them in the first place but also that we made a mistake. And who knows where that could lead given that we’re running around in armor building castles 2,000 miles from home. Also we figured these animals just had to be good for something.  And of course they were very cute.

Le Comte de Blitzer: Ah The Trouble With Tribbles paradox.

Sieur de Baskerville: What’s that?

Le Comte de Blitzer:  Nothing. Just something Nostradamus told me about. So how did you discover what they were good for?

Le Sieur de Baskerville: Well when the Comte d’Urbervilles lost his surcoat one of the animals tracked it down.  Apparently they are very thorough when wreaking havoc.

Le Comte de Blitzer: So did Le Comte d’Urbervilles get his surcoat back?

Le Sieur de Baskerville: What was left of it, yes. But we realized that if we could incentivize them to hunt edible animals instead of surcoats we could foist them upon the nobility of Europe as the ultimate hunting Hound.

Le Comte de Blitzer:  But isn’t it true that they are the ultimate hunting Hound?

Le Sieur de Baskerville: Yes, but it just depends what they’re hunting.

Well technically of course the French knights didn’t foist us on the nobility of Europe; they foisted us on the monks of the Abbey of St. Hubert who foisted us on the nobility of Europe.  And the rest as we say is history and Hound hair textured walls. So France has even more to answer for than even American tourists in Paris think.

Anyway, this week I also decided to beat the heat by visiting one of my favorite pet stores, Unleashed.  After an extensive sniff of the merchandise I engaged this fellow in an extended game of tennis ball soccer wherein I scored goals by batting the ball under the displays forcing him to get on his hands and knees to retrieve them.  We Hounds don’t play fetch. We get other people to play fetch for us.

Well I think I will leave it there for this week.  Happy Bastille Day and when you look at your Hound (and what he just did) think of the French. It’s all their fault.

A bientôt.

Wimsey, le Hound royale d’Upper West Side.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Wimsey's Blog: Diary of a Manhattan Bloodhound #268

Entry #268
July 6, 2012

Hello Everyone, it’s me Wimsey, coming to you from the continuing heat wave- on -Hudson extravaganza that is currently occurring on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.  As those of you who have had any contact with Hounds know, we are a group who are utterly devoted to our own comfort. 

So when offered a choice between going outside in the hot, humid and baking weather  (even or maybe especially when wearing a cooling coat dripping in cold water) or lying around (or being pesky) in the cool air conditioning, what do you think we choose?  Additionally compelling is the fact that although my human Maria and her friend Elizabeth don’t much appreciate the heat either, it is not as vexing to them as me keeping them out in, say, a nice refreshing rain storm (or hurricane as happened last year) or on some lovely frigid and blustery night.  In short, going outside in the heat doesn’t even have annoying my humans to recommend it.  In fact it is much more annoying to them when I try to scuttle between air-conditioned venues without even bothering to pee or poop.

But there are things that we Hounds can do to alleviate the torrid conditions currently extant in large parts of the country:

Things Hounds Can Do to Beat the Heat

Steal cooling foods like watermelon instead of the more traditional ones like the Sunday roast

Bat ice cubes around the kitchen floor tripping and knocking over people actually trying to use the kitchen.

Produce pools of drool throughout the house that are invisible until someone slips and goes flying (preferably whilst carrying something edible).

Lie in front of the air conditioner vent so that you are cool but no one else is.

Dig cooling holes all over the garden to correspond with the shady spots created by the sun’s position.

Dig a hole under the fence in order to take a dip in the neighbor’s pool.

Demand extra cups of Grom Gelato.

Plaster oneself against the sides of building so one is always in the shade.

Tow one’s humans to air-conditioned pet stores.

In between the air conditioned pet stores dive into other air-conditioned stores whether or not you are supposed to be there and then refuse to move.

Lick the frosty sides of beer mugs replacing the cold frost with warm drool.

Consume a snow cone, preferably one not originally in your possession.

Grab some shade under the tables of people trying to eat at outdoor cafes.

Put your head in the coolest spot in the house--the inside of the refrigerator.

Whatever your humans want you to do, do the opposite (this won’t specifically help with the heat but the fun of doing it will take your mind off how hot you are).

Personally I like to kill two birds with one stone by towing my humans to the air conditioned liquor store where they always have snacks for dogs (especially giant ones who put both paws on the counter and loom over the clerks’ head in a hungry manner) and where my humans can purchase assorted antidotes to me. 

And although the heat has put the kibosh on numerous plans to use my little shared backyard to barbecue and hang out, Maria and I have been using it in the mornings before it gets too hot.  She has her coffee and I try to have her coffee. Our use of the garden is made possible by my relinquishing the habit of baying furiously whenever the neighbor’s cat appears.  (Although my recent friendly overtures towards her seem to have elicited her best imitation of an Edward Gorey drawing).  But I will persevere (we Hounds excel at persevering) in my attempt to sniff the cat while Maria will persevere in her attempt to prevent my nose from getting slashed. But I am sure that the vet bills for a slashed nose would pale in comparison to my usual ones—my tush now requires anointing with a special emollient whose cost is the proverbial price beyond pearls.  I am not known as the Hound With the Golden Tush for nothing.    

This week also it came to the attention of my humans (and probably their neighbors) that my Ruff Wear Swamp Cooler cooling coat had acquired the odor of an actual swamp.  The prevailing theory is that my illicit forays into the Central Park Lake caused me to exude a distinctly swampy fragrance that I then transmitted to the coat. And although the coat has been washed, Elizabeth decided to tackle (literally) the source of the problem by giving me a bath. Now the shock and awe reverberating throughout the Hound world over the fact that a single human (and one who is smaller than I am to boot) could bathe me solo has caused me much mental anguish.

But as with all things seemingly impossible there is a simple explanation: Elizabeth cheats. She ties me to the ceramic soap holder that is cemented into the bathtub wall. This significantly impedes my ability to exit the tub.  And before one calls the authorities about the cruel and unusual practice of bathing a Hound who manifestly does not wish to be bathed, I will say in Elizabeth’s defense that she lays on a generous amount of turkey to appease my amour-propre.
  It is in fact possible to scrub with one hand and to feed turkey with the other.  Further post-bath reparations include a nice meal and a large bully stick so I will not be pressing charges at this time.  But that by no means means that all was forgotten and forgiven.  proceeded to try to steal Elizabeth’s boiled egg, then deposited a large and unsightly drool stain on her jeans, then slimed her mouse pad, then forced her to share some yogurt with me, then climbed on her when she tried to watch Wimbledon and finally covered the couch in Hound hair in spite of having just been brushed and washed.  I seem to recall hearing her tell Maria something about my life being in peril unless she picks me up soon.

But of course another way to beat the heat is to go to the movies. And although the latest crop of summer movies is entertaining I think that they could be improved:

Wimsey’s Summer Movies

Wimsey (original title, Ted): In a Christmas miracle of the kind that only happens in the minds of screenwriters who are short of ideas, John Bennett’s beloved and adorable stuffed bloodhound comes to life. It turns out that the Hound is indulgent, entitled, selfish, stubborn, opinionated, relentless, vocal and always gets his way.  He also becomes a roaring success as a food critic.  The ladies love him. The men want to be him (at least those that aren’t him already). Commitment phobic John must decide whether or not to stay with his girlfriend but this becomes a moot point when she decides that if she has to live with someone who is indulgent, entitled, selfish, stubborn, opinionated, relentless, and who always gets his way she might as well ditch the guy and get a Hound. They’re a lot cuter.

The Amazing Hound Man (original title The Amazing Spider Man): While Peter Parker is playing with mutant spiders, his cousin Wimsey Parker is playing with mutant Hounds.  The mutant Hounds drool on him and Wimsey suddenly finds that he has this amazing ability to tune people out and not to hear anyone yelling at him, criticizing him or telling him what to do.  This engenders a wonderful sense of personal freedom and self esteem that is so empowering that it inspires Wimsey to go after the things that he wants with a single minded determination.  He also finds that he has acquired a super sense of smell that enables him to humiliate his high school enemies by accurately calling attention to their failures of personal hygiene as well as to locate sources of delicious food being eaten by others.  Girls suddenly find him unbearably cute and are attracted to his ability to always get what he wants in life.  All of this sets up a looming confrontation with his archenemy, The Amazing Golden Retriever.

Savages: Two California marijuana growers, Cheech and his buddy Chong and their three way gossipy girlfriend Ophelia are threatened by a Mexican drug cartel. Even the assistance of a disco dancing dirty DEA agent can’t help them.  The day is saved when they unleash their secret weapon on the cartel: the savages. Also known as a large litter of bloodhound puppies.

To Wimsey With Love  (original title: To Rome with Love):  Four overly intellectual intertwined stories of people who love Wimsey.  As a consequence, they all meet in a psychiatrist’s office.

The Avengers: Nick Fury, a director of S.H.I.E. L.D. has a problem: somehow a dramatically convenient malfunction has occurred in the Tesseract and a time portal has opened. As is usually the case with time portals nobody who wants to cure cancer or bring world peace slips through.  Nice people never travel in time portals. Time portals, however, are a favorite mode of transportation of beings bent on World Domination.  This time it’s Loki a thoroughly unpleasant and belligerent Norse god who looks to be badly in need of the therapist’s couch.  Anyway, Fury briefly considers calling in such super hero luminaries as Captain America and the Hulk but decides in the end to call in a much more powerful and experienced set of avengers: The Hound Group.  The evildoers are tracked to their lair by Bloodhound who lays a trail of magically slippery slime.  Then Loki is chased onto the slime by Greyhound whereupon he is sat upon by Wolfhound and Deerhound and guarded by Ridgeback who is just waiting for someone to make his day. Beagle then eats the entire food supply of the gang and Bloodhound eats everything else.  Loki and his allies flee back through the time portal after concluding that World Domination is vastly overrated and not worth the effort of being annoyed by the Hound Group-- especially after the consequences of Bloodhound and Beagle’s gastronomic escapades become apparent.

Magic Wimsey (original title Magic Mike): An experienced Hound takes a youngster, known as The Puppy, under his wing.   He teaches him how to succeed as a Hound including imparting such Houndly precepts such as never give up—where there is a will there really is a way—and never apologize—why tuck your tail when it’s your human’s fault that they took their eye off their sandwich for that split second.  He teaches The Puppy how to look exceptionally cute after chewing up pricey Italian leather goods and that the day before laundry day is the best time to raid the hamper. But then Wimsey wonders whether his sybaritic life style is all that satisfying and thinks that maybe he should do something worthwhile like using his nose to find lost children instead of those steak bones in the garbage bin.  But then he realizes that stealing the steak bones are a lot more fun so he and The Puppy eat the couch while their humans are off watching a movie about very hot guys taking their clothes off.

Well you get the idea. Anyway, I think I will leave it there for this week.  My humans are hoping that I will find this evening’s climactic conditions more conducive to excreting than they were earlier in the day.  They probably are but I do like the sight of the ladies pleading for me to produce the contents of my bladder and bowel.  Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Until next time,

Wimsey, super Hound, terrible dog