Friday, May 30, 2008

Wimsey's Blog: Diary of a Manhattan Bloodhound

Entry # 69
May 30, 2008

Hello Everyone. It’s me, Wimsey coming to you from Hound Headquarter on the Hudson. And what a week it’s been here in the big city. First of course it was Memorial Day weekend and the unofficial start of another spectacular New York summer. Shakespeare in the Park commenced last night and there were lines of people gathered to view an added great spectacle-- Wimsey in the Park, which in all modesty I think is a much better show and one which can be seen all year round. And then because of the holiday I had my human Maria around for four days of happy hounding. Her friend Elizabeth was much in evidence also— as she vowed to use the holiday to “catch up on things” (I wonder why these things are always running away from her and why she never seems to catch them no matter how hard she tries), but instead she spent three glorious days in the Park trying to catch up with me. And then of course Tuesday rolled around and Nothing Was Done (which was not strictly speaking true as I was thoroughly aired and exercised). But that is what happens when one succumbs to the blandishments of (scary music here please) Wimsey: The Time Vampire.

The History of the Time Vampire

Time Vampires originally appeared on earth in the ancient middle east where they delayed the construction of the pyramids by several millennia. And then Cleopatra and Mark Anthony lost Egypt to the Roman legions because they were too busy playing with their Time Vampire to notice a flotilla of whacking great Roman ships steaming up the Nile. Time Vampires were able to extend their range to Europe during the crusades when they were mistakenly transported there by Crusaders who thought they would be actually useful animals. They resided with the monks of St. Hubert-- an order that sadly became defunct because they ceased to engage in any activities unrelated to the raising and caring of Time Vampires (who also appropriated their name and became known as St. Hubert Dogs.) Tragedy occurred in the history of the Time Vampires when Louis XVI was so busy hunting with his Time Vampires that he failed to notice that no one had anything to eat, thus precipitating the French Revolution. Today Time Vampires can be found world wide quietly removing large chunks of time from the lives of unsuspecting humans.

Maria: It’s time to clean the apartment.

Wimsey Time Vampire: Here let me sit on you while think about the best way to go about it.

Maria: OK, just for a minute.

Wimsey Time Vampire: Here is the remote. You could watch those new DVDs you ordered while you massage my tummy. Won’t that be relaxing?

Maria: But I have to clean.

Wimsey Time Vampire: Why? I will only make things dirty again. And look! I have placed my head in your lap. Isn’t that sweet? Don’t you want to play with my ears and wrinkles?

Maria: Well, OK maybe just one DVD…

And how did Maria spend the day? Watching DVDs with her magnificent Time Vampire.

And, just to spread the wealth:

Elizabeth: I must sit at my computer and answer these urgent business emails.

Wimsey Time Vampire: Doesn’t Riverside Park look lovely this time of day?

Elizabeth: Yes, but I have work to do.

Wimsey Time Vampire: Me too. I have to sniff all that fragrant air pouring through the window. But. it would be even better if we were out walking together.

Elizabeth: Yes, but there are all these emails.

Wimsey Time Vampire: They aren’t going anywhere and walking is so healthy. And a walk will clear your head so you will be even more productive.

Elizabeth: Well, a short walk perhaps…

And how did Elizabeth spend the day? Walking in the park with her friend’s magnificent Time Vampire.

Anyway, apart from spending most of four days in the park, this Memorial Day was also memorable because I made a Very Special Friend. It turns out that there is another Manhattan Bloodhound living on the East Side! His name is Kolben and his human reports that he is sometimes mistaken for me! (Perhaps if he weren’t so well behaved he could be hired out as a Wimsey impersonator). Anyway, I have a man crush on Kolben but he behaves just like the lady bloodhounds upon whom I also have a crush-- maintaining a stately, dignified demeanor in the face of my unruly behavior. I tried everything in my antic arsenal to get him to play with me: The Play Bow, The Crouch, The Paw Poke, The Play Dead, The Roach and the Bay. All for three hours straight! (we Wimseys don’t believe in giving up easily. Or giving up at all in fact). Anyway even after three hours of steady baying. poking, crouching, lying flat, play bowing and roaching Kolben maintained his calm demeanor, only occasionally turning to me and saying “Wimsey, don’t be such an ass.” If I had no effect on him, at least I succeeded in making a spectacle of myself before the packed crowds in Central Park (“We can hear him at the other end of the park…” and ‘Is he always like that?”). And our humans had a delightful time comparing vet bills (Kolben may be silent and dignified, but he is still a true bloodhound after all), the injuries (he managed to pull his human down the stairs) the ear cleaning solutions and the anti-stink shampoos. Also his human Dan is way more cool than my humans—he plays bass in a band ( I am sure he can more fully appreciate my musical abilities-- perhaps I can sit in with them some time.

You can see a montage of our time together—such a handsome couple of Hounds are we. And I am sure next time we meet he will play with me…

And the fun didn’t end there. On Monday my humans and I went on another Northern Expedition to the wilds of Central Park above 96th street. I am now known as Wimsey the Great Black and Tan Squirrel Hunter of the North! Of course my humans had to stop and document our progress through The North Woods--yes there is really an area of Central Park called that, which I am sure, is news to the people who actually live in the northern reaches of the country with vast tracts of forest. Everything in Central Park has a specific name designed to make you think that you are not actually in the middle of a major metropolis (The Sheep Meadow, the Great Lawn, The Lake, the Ramble, etc), I don’t really think they are fooling anybody, but they get an “A” for effort and for confusing the tourists looking for sheep and major bodies of water. But of course I too have my own names for things such as the Towing Fence, Poop Hill, The Great Tree, Dog Fountain, The Hound Bench, Pee Meadow, etc, which I think are much more accurate.

And the other big news here this week is the opening of Sex and the City. However I think with a few small teaks they could have made a much better film:

Hound and the City

Hound 1: I’m hungry.

Hound 2: Yes, let’s eat—I’ve been watching my figure and am looking far too svelte.

Hound 3: Yes, I agree. Everyone knows that low body fat is a major cause of smoothness and you are far too young to have to resort to a wrinkle job.

Hound 4: Let’s have brunch in Central Park. It is a lovely day and there will be lots of delicious things to filch out of people’s picnic baskets.

Hound 1: Sounds great. Chewing up Manolos gives one quite an appetite.

Hound 2: I prefer Jimmy Choos myself.

Hound 3: But those are so 90s! Proenza Schouler is so much more modern. And they have much more textural variety.

Hound 4: But there is something to be said for the classics—a Chanel sling back for example, can make an excellent chew.

Hound 2: Yes, but tearing the buttons off those over priced boxy suits is a lot more fun.

Hound 1: True. By the way, I saw Mr. Big today.

Hound 2: You mean the vet?

Hound 1: Yes, I think he is in love with me. He seems to want to see quite a lot of me.

Hound 3: But everyone is always in love with us. We are beautiful, talented and narcissistic—what could be a better foundation for a relationship.

Hound 4: An excellent point.

Well before you run off to the movies, it is time to pop in and see another masterwork from the Wimsey Institute of Houndish Art. Now it’s just not new Yorkers who like to confer names upon their recreational areas—19th century Parisians liked to do it too. There was a recreational area and restaurant on a branch of the Seine called
La Grenouillere (“The Froggery”), which, as it involved edible leaping green things, sounds like a lot more fun than The Boathouse in Central Park! Bathing at La Grenouillere, (Claude Monet 1869, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York). What can I say? Here we have all the light and shadow made so famous by the plein air technique of the impressionists (plein air being a fancy way to say outdoors in the same way that ”La Grenouillere” is of saying Fried Frogs Sold Here). But of course where there is good eating to be had there must needs be a Hound, a detail which Monet sadly omitted. However, this is easily rectified with the insertion of yet a nautical Hound about to sample the green leaping bounty of the Seine. La Wimseyere.

Until next time,

Wimsey, it’s not easy being black and tan

Friday, May 23, 2008

Wimsey's Blog:Diary of a Manhattan Bloodhound

Entry # 68
May 23, 2008

Hello Everyone. It’s me Wimsey wishing you a Happy Memorial Day Weekend! Here in New York City it’s Fleet Week (too bad it’s not Feet Week which sounds a lot smellier) which means that the harbor is crowded with impressive naval vessels and the streets are chock a block with navy men and women dressed in white! Apparently no one told them how dangerous it is to roam around in Bloodhound City in spotless white attire. My human Maria and her friend Elizabeth squeak in horror at the very sight of them (“Can they put Wimsey in the brig for messing up their clothes? Of course putting Wimsey in the brig for a while might not be such a bad idea…Can we build one?”). Personally I would love to go on board one of these vessels—I am particularly keen to visit the poop deck and make a contribution to the navy that can be visibly felt, smelled and stepped into. But although I don’t have webbed feet, I do enjoy trying to drag my humans into New York’s fountains and so have always fancied myself something of nautical Hound:

Aboard the USS Chien de St. Hubert

Hound Sailor: Ahoy Captain Wimsey! I smell the enemy approaching!

Captain Wimsey: Yes I detect a large catamaran downwind heading in our direction.

Hound Sailor: What shall we do—we can’t beat them at close combat—all their appendages come equipped with razor sharp retractable sabers!

Captain Wimsey: Never fear. They hate being wet. All hands to the rail! Lift legs ho! And remember, don’t squirt until you see the yellow of their eyes!

Hound Sailor: They’re fleeing! Such caterwauling! But I hear the sound of a submarine below us!

Captain Wimsey: We’ll have to use our depth charges. All hands, 90 degrees about turn! Tails up! Assume the position! Release depth charge!

Hound Sailor: That was quite an impressive volley Captain.

Captain Wimsey: I know. Cook put bran in their kibble.

Hound Sailor: Look Captain! There is a ship with humans approaching. The last time they captured us, they bathed us!

Captain Wimsey: All hands aim muzzles! Inhale! Lift! Bay!

Hound Sailor: They’re covering their ears with their hands and scurrying below. And their ship has stopped!

Captain Wimsey: Yes. Our Sonic Weapon shatters their navigation systems.
Hound Sailor: I thought Sanjay was particularly impressive today—such a fine, piercing baritone.

Captain Wimsey: Well it is not for nothing that he is known as “The Bay of Bengal!”

Anyway, it is supposed to be a beautiful weekend here and I intend to spend as much of it as possible out and about in search of white uniforms in need of decoration. And speaking of decorations, I notice that many of these naval folk sport some pretty nifty medals and awards, but I didn’t notice any of these:

Hound Decorations

Order of the Golden Stream: awarded by grateful humans for meritorious peeing in inclement conditions.

Pavarotti Memorial Medal: given to a Hound for ear drum shattering above and beyond the call of duty.

The Silver Hot Dog: awarded for the most daring snack attack.

The Brown Mound: given for the poop most impossible to scoop.

The Order of the Deaf Leopard: a highly competitive award conferred for exceptional non-response to obedience commands.

The Golden Clothespin: given to a Hound for outstanding stink and dispersion.

The St. Hubert Medal: an award given for courage in the face of an insurmountable bath tub.

The Golden Nose: awarded by Homeland Security to the Hound most diligent in looking for weapons of mass destruction in people’s pants.

The Sir Isaac Newton Prize: given to the Hound for most creative application of the laws of motion and principles of Newtonian physics in destroying the human musculoskeletal system.

The Albert Einstein Quantum Physics Award: Given for the outstanding conversion of kibble into energy.

The Alfred Hitchcock Medal: given to the Hound who drives the most number of humans psycho.

Grand Order of the Hound: a lifetime achievement award conferred for exceptional obnoxiousness and overall ability to destroy major household goods and appliances.

Well as I said, I am looking forward to being out and about this weekend leaving as many drooly marks on all those white outfits as possible. It would have been much easier to make a mess of them last week as it rained during my Sunday Central Park Expedition. Mud and muck truly brings out the artist in me. There was a festival on Amsterdam Avenue that I was planning on attending that got mostly rained out, which is a real shame since street fairs give my humans a chance to shop with me and my discerning and intrusive nose. Generally these fairs are an opportunity for me to inspect lots of merchandise, poke lots of fannies and cadge lots of food and water bottles from admiring humans. They’re like little villages in which I have the keys to the city. Of course, if I were organizing a fair it would be a little different.

Ye Olde Wimsey Faire

Booth # 1: Fried squirrels on a stick
Booth #2: Madame Houndia: Fortune Teller (“I see a large poop in your future.”)
Booth # 3: Bobbing for liver
Booth #4: Hot dog stealing contest
Booth # 5:Long distance drool flinging competition: win your weight in pig ears
Booth # 6 Magic fingers dog bed
Booth #7: More fried squirrels on a stick

Plus such perennial favorites as the maypole tug of war, tests of strength towing humans and the dirty underwear scavenger hunt. Prizes for the stinkiest Hound, most wrinkles, longest ears and worst behaved.

But right now I think we should nip into The Wimsey Institute of Houndish Art where in honor of Memorial Day and Fleet Week we look at the work of the great American landscape and seascape artist, Winslow Homer. Boy in a Boat (Winslow Homer, 1881, Art Institute of Chicago). Winslow Homer started his professional life as a lithographer and illustrator and later moved on to water colors and oils. He is famous for his luminescent landscapes and marine scenes. He painted this scene when he was staying on Ten Pound Island in the Bay of Gloucester in Massachusetts. In Boy in a Boat, Homer experiments with the use of scraping to supply highlights on the rock and with a transparent water color technique to capture the reflective surface of the water. The scene depicts a boy in his boat waiting for the return of his father from a day’s work at sea fishing. However, the boy looks very lonely and he is facing away from the sea, so how is he to know when his father is approaching? See how both issues are immediately solved by the insertion of a majestic nautical Hound who is gazing nobly out to sea ready to alert the boy the instant the father can be smelled! Isn’t he a distinguished looking Hound? Wimsey in a Boat.

Well now I am off to a well deserved romp in the Park (although by the time you read this it will no doubt be evening as I like to review my work after some vigorous exercise). Maria is apparently picnicking with some friends in the Sheep Meadow and I am off with Elizabeth in tow to crash the party. What else are Hounds for (and perhaps we shall see some white clad naval people…or better yet, actual sheep. White ones.)

Until next time—Happy Memorial Day,

Wimsey, The Gem of the Ocean (and the Upper West Side)

Friday, May 16, 2008

Wimsey's Blog: Diary of a Manhattan Bloodhound

Entry # 67
May 16, 2008

Hello everyone. It’s me Wimsey coming to you on this rain soaked Friday from high atop Manhattan’s Upper West Side (well OK, 5 floors atop Manhattan’s Upper West Side). But fortunately the week wasn’t all rainy and although no celebrity politicians stopped to admire me this week, plenty of other, more humble folk did. “Magnificent” was the word of the week around here, and a well deserved adjective it is too. Sad to say no one ever comments on my human Maria or her friend Elizabeth who are always to be found dragged along at the other end of my leash. What can I say—it was my destiny to be magnificent, beautiful and admired and theirs to bask in my reflected glory. But beauty is only skin deep and underneath all these folds and wrinkles beats the heart of a true and magnificent Hound. I always get what I want, pay very little attention (a polite way of saying no attention) to the needs and wishes of my humans and patiently allow myself to be the repository of the unlimited quantities of worship and affection that humans routinely shower upon me. The other day someone asked Elizabeth where they could obtain such a one as me (Hounds R Us?) and before the words were barely out of their mouths she loudly declaimed “They stink, they bay, they don’t listen to a word you say, they drool and fling it everywhere and, oh yes, they like to rip up your possessions, even as adults. Also, they are huge. Perhaps you should start with a smaller Hound.” Of course then they looked at her and wondered why she had one. Perhaps they thought that Hounds have some hidden and secret talent, like turning kibble to gold? Well, I turn kibble into something much more precious than gold, at least as evidenced by the care and consideration that I give to its deposit. And speaking of which, my poop obsessed humans, in admiration of the Moh’s scale of hardness have come up with the Wimsey Scale of Hardness:

# 10: Hard enough to build a house with

# 9: Delightfully firm to the touch

# 8: A little give but still elegantly and precisely formed

#7: A slightly looser shape imparting an artistic quality

# 6: A more free form of expression

# 5: A mound of soft serve ice cream

# 4: A mound of soft serve ice cream that is starting to melt

# 3: Consistency of a bowl of fragrant oatmeal

# 2: Oatmeal with some milk

#1: Just the milk

This makes Elizabeth’s bulletins from the field much more precise when she alerts Maria to a major pooping event, although the numbers are a poor substitute for her usual eloquence (“Wimsey just pooped and it was a medium sized and mostly formed poop-- rather like a fine Cuban cigar that has been rolled a tad too loosely).

But getting back to the non-Hound savvy public, I do kind of like the idea of a starter Hound. At least if a beagle or a basset gives you trouble you can lift them up and trundle them off—but make no mistake-- underneath all their little adorableness they are still true Hounds. We all share a fine list of houndly attributes (although probably not the drool, which is found only amongst we more impressive specimens) so if you find you like living with a small insubordinate Hound you may be ready to graduate to The Maximum Hound. Or Houndus Maximus as I like to think of myself. I think I would have done rather well in ancient Rome:

All Hail! Houndus Maximums is entering the Forum!

Roman #1: Wow! Look at all those slaves he’s got.

Roman #2: I know. And they’re all volunteers too. Why Septimus over there gave up his wife and job to follow Houndus Maximums around. He says Houndus is better tempered and money is overrated compared to the psychic satisfaction of serving Houndus.

Roman #1: He must treat them all very well, though. Look how they are picking up his poop and washing the marble columns where he has peed!

Roman #2: Apparently he pretty much ignores them, except when he wants something. But he does permit them unlimited time to worship him and to stroke his person, which they all seem to enjoy. And of course they get to wear a special waterproof toga that is the badge of his service.

Roman #1: And look, even strangers are approaching to pay him tribute! Why he could build an entire temple out of those mounds of water bottles and rawhides.

Roman #2: And people are offering a profusion of freeze dried animal bits to tempt his finicky palate. He is quite discerning you know and has been known to turn up his giant, lustrous wet nose at some surprisingly juicy comestibles.

Roman #1: Yes, it is well known that he wishes those around him to partake before his interest is aroused and then he likes to clean everyone’s plate, preferably without their consent. A very wise strategy when there are so many poisonous and unpleasant substances about like Heartguard and Glycoflex.

Roman #2 And see his slaves come from all over the Empire. His appeal knows no geographical boundaries. He has truly created a Pax Houndus.

Roman #1: I myself feel that I should approach and give him a scratch behind the ears. Or perhaps he would enjoy shredding my toga.

Roman #2: Ah, another slave is assimilated into the Wimsey Empire.

And speaking of empires, as you know mine consists of the 800 or so acres of Central Park, which I like to tour part of each day. But we New Yorkers are a funny lot and we tend to stay in our neighborhoods, even while in the park. Although I am somewhat of a renegade because I roam freely from the west side to the exotic east side (where dogs sport designer coats!). But I have to say that I don’t spend as much time as I should in the northern part of the park. Well on Sunday, the weather being fine, Elizabeth and I mounted an expedition to Central Park’s northernmost reaches and it was fantastic! Although I can’t divulge everything that happened (“What happens above 96th street stays above 96th street) I can say that we traveled along the North Meadow to The Pool and The Loch and we climbed The Great Hill (a very appropriate activity for the Great Hound) and cut through The North Woods to circumnavigate the Harlem Meer. I was like those explorers of yore marking my territory as I went along with my own special flag. And then we toured the Conservatory Garden where I had never been before because my humans were under the misguided impression that Hounds were not welcome. Of course, the gardens are quite beautiful and would have been made more so if I had been allowed to pee on the plants but I was strictly prohibited from this constructive activity. It’s a wonder they can grow all those flowers without my help. But The Garden is quite wonderful and I like to think that it was made more so (as you can see in the photos) by the presence of a magnificent Hound. The Garden was first opened to the public in 1934 and is a popular place for weddings. And, as it happens, weddings are much on my mind these days as Maria is attending an out of town celebration in June enabling me to spend the weekend enthroned in glorious houndly splendor on Elizabeth’s futon. Spring being the most popular season for weddings, I think there would be very high demand for wedding planners:

Wimsey Wedding Planner

Welcome to Wimsey’s Wedding Palace.

Bride: Thank you. I am getting married.

Wimsey: Excellent. Marriage is an honorable estate. Or so they tell me as my humans have somehow managed to avoid the experience entirely. They say there is not much call for smelly, disheveled and bruised brides wearing baggy and drool stained clothing but I think they just don’t have the presence and fashion sense necessary to carry off such a fashion forward look. Where is Tim Gunn when you need him! But I digress. Now invitations are very important. I recommend this excellent shred-able velum on which you can engrave the date and time of your nuptials and all the presents you expect to receive.

Bride: And how about flowers.

Wimsey: Ah yes, flowers. I personally prefer long stemmed varieties as these have so much more surface area upon which to pee. And always look for flowers with lots of excellent edible petals. Flowering shrubs in tubs are also quite nice as one can water the tub as well as the shrub.

Bride: And the dress.

Wimsey: We here at the wedding palace recommend either bright white to show off the mud or a darker tone, say peach, to better highlight the drool. Also we like lots of expensive lace and a nice long train with which we can play tug of war. Our view is that if you are going to spend an obscene amount of money on a garment that you are only going to wear once, it might as well provide maximum entertainment value.

Bride: But what about the wedding cake?

Wimsey: Here we show our flair for blending the traditional with the innovative. The cake is a traditional white cake with butter cream frosting but it is in the shape of a colossal Hound in full bay. As the cake is wheeled out a chorus of hounds interpret the wedding march.

Bride: And what do you recommend for food.

Wimsey: Ah, here we at the wedding palace excel. First your guests will nibble from a delightful string cheese sculpture of a bride and groom and their enormous Hound, studded with a fine array of cow hooves. Then your guests will have a choice of a foie gras appetizer or Leberklosse soup to be followed by a choice of sautéed liver with drool sauce, deep fried squirrel or our delicious, proprietary organ meat stew consisting of succulent, chewy chunks of heart, brains, liver and kidney from a variety of important animals. Desert is a choice of bull penis au chocolate or a dramatic flambé of pig ears.

Bride: It all sounds so delicious.

Wimsey: Yes it is. We cook to the highest standards—all our food is consistently sampled throughout the cooking process. And of course all your entrances and exits will be marked by exuberant baying or pathetic squeaking, respectively.
Bride: It sounds lovely. How much will my wedding cost?
Wimsey: A mere $100,000 should cover it. But it is your special day whose memory you will treasure until you get divorced. Then you become eligible for Wimsey’s 10% off second wedding extravaganza that will make you forget all about the jerk you married the first time.

I think planning weddings could be a lot of fun! Well, it is time once again for our visit to the Wimsey Institute of Houndish Art. Now I have waxed poetic these past few weeks about the joys of Spring here in the Big Apple, but I am not the only artistic soul who has been captivated by the beauties of the season. One of the most famous and beautiful paintings on the subject was done by that Renaissance master, Sandro Botticelli: Primavera (Sandro Botticelli, 1482, Uffizi gallery, Florence). The painting, owned and prominently displayed by the great Florentine Lorenzo the Magnificent's (catchy name) second cousin (also called Lorenzo) has many interpretations and there are many thoughts as to its inspiration, including political (the figures represent the great city states of the time), poetic (based on poem by the classical write Lucretius ((wasn’t he a Borg?)), or historical (based on descriptions of lost works of art). Whatever its origins, Botticelli makes use of use of slender, almost statue like idealized figures to convey a sense of timeless beauty. The central figure is Venus, the goddess of love and all things beautiful. Above her hovers Cupid, about to nail one of the Three Graces with an arrow. Beyond them is the figure of Mercury standing guard over the enchanted garden. On the other side of the picture we see Zephyr the god of the winds about to ravage the nymph Chloris—and who, in a fit of remorse he afterwards turns into the serene Flora we see just to the side strewing flower petals (Classical Gods were very big on ravaging nymphs and other assorted females, which was very surprising since they always seem to feel so guilty afterwards, an emotion of course with which we Hounds are wholly unfamiliar). Anyway, all this is pretty fantastic except that the Three Graces do not somehow seem as joyful as they could be. But see what happens when we add Three Dancing Graceful Hounds! How much more joy and energy is imparted to Botticelli’s masterpiece! Even the great have room for improvement (except Great Hounds, of course—we are perfect). Wimseyvera

Anyway, we have come to the end of our visit. I hope you are all enjoying the Benadryl inducing delights of Spring!

Until next time,

Wimsey, The Magnificent.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Wimsey's Blog: Diary of a Manhattan Bloodhound

Entry # 66
May, 9 2008

Hello Everyone. It’s me Wimsey reporting from the soggy but sensational upper west side of Manhattan. Now personally, I don’t mind the rain so much—it can bring out some rather deliciously disgusting smells (and of course enhance my fine houndly odor)—but my human Maria and her friend Elizabeth channel the Wicked Witch of the West whenever it rains (and not just her aversion to water I might add, but we won’t go into that here lest I lose my computer privileges). And of course there is the issue of mud which can be surprisingly slippery when one is at the wrong end of a twenty foot leash with a 125 lb. wet and towing Hound.

But it has been an exciting week here in New York City, replete with a festive holiday, a celebrity sighting and some beautiful new plants. On the holiday front, Monday was Cinco de Mayo, a holiday that no one seems to know the reason for but which New Yorkers nonetheless embrace with their characteristic celebratory gusto. Any holiday that requires the drinking of margaritas whilst chowing down on high fat high carb food occupies a prominent place in the pantheon of desirable holidays.

New Yorkers are justly proud of the cultural diversity of the city, but when immigrants also bring fun holidays that entail the consumption of tasty food and booze they are embraced to an even greater extent. Few people know that Cinco de Mayo is not Mexican independence day but that it commemorates a big victory by Mexican soldiers over the French (The French!!!) in 1862. Who knew that the French wanted to take over Mexico! (well I suppose the Mexicans did). Had they won I suppose we’d all be celebrating with tacos a l’orange washed down with a fine Bordeaux—so I think we had a lucky escape and I suspect that the guacamole engorged population of NYC would agree. Of course the fact that many actual Mexicans celebrate the holiday by selling chips and salsa to partying non-Mexicans is one of the cultural ironies that makes life in New York so entertaining.

Now since New Yorkers like to pretend to belong to everyone’s nationality in order to party, I think Hounds should have a holiday too. I know that every day is actually a Hound holiday—but on this one humans would get to be Hounds for a day. They could wear festive long ears, eat vast quantities of food, take loud naps and do and say exactly what they please (for employment reasons it is suggested that the holiday take effect only after business hours). There could be a big party in Central Park with group baying, hot dog stealing and mud rolling. Everyone’s a Hound on Hound Day!

But this week was also quite exciting in other ways too. The weather cleared up on Sunday and I went for another one of my 5 hour Central Park excursions. Elizabeth and I have been faithfully checking the Azalea Pond in the Ramble each week to see if any Azaleas choose to emerge and this week we were finally rewarded with the sight of them! We sat on a bench watching them grow and I managed to get my entire body onto Elizabeth’s lap-- I sat on her until she turned the color of the Azaleas. And the rest of the day was fabulous too—we met many people and dogs and while Elizabeth engaged in boring conversations I dug a hole in the bridle path and had a little nap.

But the meeting people thing didn’t get really interesting until later in the week during one of my early evening park walks. Mitt Romney (the former Republican presidential candidate for those who can’t remember back that far) stopped with some friends to pet and admire me. Of course Elizabeth had no idea who he was, being entirely clueless in the celebrity department, until Maria told her. (She assumes that everyone who looks vaguely familiar was probably a client from her Wall Street days—at least she didn’t try to discuss biotechnology with him). Of course if William Cecil or Cardinal Woolsey happened to be strolling through Central Park she would have recognized them instantly, but sadly 16th century English politicians are rather an uncommon sight.

Anyway, for those Democrats out there you can take heart that Mitt stopped to admire me, I did not stop to admire him. But of course I never do stop to admire humans, famous or not—Hounds admiring humans is a violation of the order of the universe (I do like his macho name, however. I am sure that if he’d been called Wimsey Romney instead of Mitt he would have ended up being a cost accountant or something). Maria did comment that he looked shorter in person, which is no surprise as standing next to a Majestic Hound is not exactly height enhancing. I mean I make Elizabeth look like she is a resident of Munchkin Land and Maria, who is quite statuesque, look like she should be shopping in the petite department. So celebrity politicians are apt to look less impressive by comparison as well. Some would say in more ways than one, but I am far too modest a Hound to mention it myself.

Now politicians are known for wearing funny hats and kissing babies, but meeting one makes me think they should also be kissing Hounds. Imagine a campaign rally with folks dandling their beagles for smooching (I too would like to be dandled but that would probably require someone, say, the size of Jason Taylor). And I also think that Hounds should be an integral part of the campaign process. Candidates should be presented with Hounds so the public can assess their characters—I mean if they can’t deal with a large stinky, drool flinging Hound, how are they possibly going to cope with all those difficult world leaders (The French!) and members of Congress? And their political skills could be excellently evaluated by watching them try to cajole and convince a reluctant Hound into doing something it doesn’t want to do. And the politicians could hone their debate skills on such important topics as “The Beagle or The Basset: Who is cuter?” and “Wimsey’s best feature: Ears or Wrinkles?” And of course the Hounds could make sure that they met all security requirements by nose wanding them. I myself excel at nose wanding—I do this to my humans whenever they come in from outside (you never know when they might be attempting to smuggle in important contraband—like food they don’t intend to share).

And my nose wanding expertise is an excellent basis for creating Air Wimsey —the airline that has absolutely no interest in pleasing you.

Security Hound: (snuffle snuffle): You are carrying food. Please place it in the dog bowl over there. Next!

Security Hound: (snuffle snuffle): You haven’t changed your underwear. Change it immediately and put the dirty pair in the bin next to the dog bowl. Next!

Security Hound: (snuffle snuffle): We have been informed of a plot to use children’s toys as weapons. Please stick them in the mouths of those Hounds over there. Next!

Security Hound: (snuffle snuffle): Take off your shoes and let me smell your feet. Lovely. Next!

Hound Pilot: Good afternoon. This is Captain Hubert speaking. I will be assisted in the cockpit today by First Officer Hubert. Overseeing your lack of comfort in the cabin will be Chief Purser Hubert. We will take off when I feel like it.

Passengers 1, 2 & 3: There seems to be a giant Hound lying across us!
Flight Attendant Hubert: Yes, I know. He likes to sleep the wide way.

Passenger 4: There’s kibble in this packet of peanuts.

Flight Attendant Hubert: Kibble is healthier than peanuts. That will be $10 please.

Passenger 4: Is there anything else to eat?

Flight Attendant Hubert: Well, there is raw liver on a bed of newly mown grass. But that is only in first class. We do have some more food back here and for $20 we’ll let you try to steal it.

Passenger 5: That snoring is deafening.

Flight Attendant Hubert: That’s Chief Purser Hubert. He’s had a busy day not taking care of you.

Passenger 5: But we haven’t even left yet!

Flight Attendant Hubert: Yes, I know. We set a high standard of non-service.

Passenger 6: What’s that smell?

Flight Attendant Hubert: First of all its fragrance, not smell. And were you referring to the flatulence or the Hound odor? The cabin is liberally supplied with both. This is Air Wimsey, after all.

Pilot Hubert: OK, I am in the mood to take off now. Please be advised that take off will cost you all $50 apiece—it’s not included in the price of your ticket. Strap yourselves in. If you can’t figure out how to use the buckle, you’re toast. We will be cruising at whatever altitude the overworked people on the ground tell us has no other airplanes in it. You will see absolutely nothing out of the window except clouds, but if you see one in the shape of a Hound, alert your flight attendant—we like to stop and admire those up here in the cockpit. Also, please don’t bother the flight attendants for anything else—it’s time for their naps and they don’t care about anything you want anyway. I will shortly be turning off the seat belt sign. Feel free to get up and give the flight crew a belly rub. Wimsey Airlines: It’s all about us and it shows!

Hmm… perhaps my airline sounds too much like all the rest of them. Maybe I can differentiate it by having my jets modified to use the kind of gas that I produce.

Well I have spent so much time in Central Park this week that our visit to the Wimsey Institute of Houndish Art is something of an homage to parks. We return again to the work of Vincent Van Gogh and his productive stay in Arles in the south of France (to where he no doubt fled to recover from the shock of France not being able to take over Mexico). Entrance to the Public Garden in Arles (Vincent Van Gogh, 1888, The Phillips Collection, Washington DC). Here again we see Van Gogh’s strong sense of line coupled with his mesmerizingly rhythmic brush strokes. And again we note with pleasure his use of the complimentary colors of blue and yellow. But we also notice a wonderful wide and open path that appears to be largely unused by any of Van Gogh’s volumetric figures. See how much more realistic the scene becomes as a large active Hound tracks some juicy animal into the gardens! Just like I do in Central Park. Entrance to Wimsey’s Garden’s in Arles.

Well time to get my humans rained on,

Until next time,

I am Wimsey and I approved this blog

Friday, May 2, 2008

Wimsey's Blog: Diary of a Manhattan Bloodhound

Entry # 65
May 2, 2008

Hello Everyone. It’s me Wimsey and they do say that April showers make May flowers so I have been doing my very best to water Central Park’s flowers (and trees and shrubs and grass). It’s all kept me very busy and my human Maria and her friend Elizabeth have been struggling to keep up with my active Wimsey lifestyle. All of this galloping and pacing about the Park is thirsty work and I always look forward to being served water in my personal canvas water dish that Elizabeth has permanently hooked onto her jeans (a
nother one of her elegant fashion statements, like the mud and drool encrusted clothing). And public spirited character that I am, I have been reporting all the broken fountains to the parks department—and they have been repairing them for me! I am sure that Mayor Bloomberg would not want to deprive a major public figure such as myself of the benefits of frequent hydration. I know this must weigh heavily on his mind when he is not thinking about other offices for which he can run (my personal assistant, perhaps?) But what can be more personally satisfying to him (or to anyone for that matter) than overseeing my comfort.

For instance, the other day my humans noticed a drop of blood on their hands as we were preparing to go out for a walk and this unleashed the Great Bloodhound Blood Hunt. Really I probably nicked myself playing with my running partner Louie the Weimaraner, but you would have thought that I had ruptured my jugular for all the excitement it generated. It was fantastic—the ladies inspected, rubbed and squooshed every bit of me hoping to identify the origin of this prodigious blood. Of course when they get hurt things are considerable more casual (“Oh. Wimsey dislocated my shoulder again. I wish he wouldn’t do th

But things have been rather quiet here in The City (New York being The City in the same sense that I am The Hound)—no visiting Popes or gubernatorial sex scandals or celebrities behaving badly (or at least not really badly). So on these slow news weeks (usually characterized by major stories involving Miley Cyrus and/or Paula Abdul); I think the denizens of the metropolis would enjoy reading the latest offering from Wimsey Publications: Hound and Hound Magazine (I see no value in the pesky “horse” part when it is really the hounds who are important).

Hound and Hound Magazine Feature Stories

Fashion: Straight from the Dogwalks of Milan: Go Go boots: (owners plead for Stop Stop boots)

Cooking: 1,000 new ways to prepare liver

Romance: Make him roll over and beg for it

Decorating: The first (and last) word in design “Don’t”

The Show Ring: Ten show stoppers

Trailing: Why finding lost squirrels is more fun than finding lost people

Fitness: Impressing humans with the importance of no pain (theirs) no gain (yours)

Grooming: Dirt roll your way to a healthy coat

Horticulture: How to pee on indoor bouquets without getting caught

Astrology: May’s fab forecast: dirt, drool and muck! (same as every month). Your humans will thank their lucky stars for you.

itics: Why 9 out 10 Americans think a Hound would make a better president

But Hound and Hound is only part of the Wimsey Media Empire. I also run the Wimsey Television Network from my couch high atop the floor of my upper west side apartment. I believe that my offerings are a vast improvement over the time wasting rubbish my humans usually watch (especially "The Dog Whisperer" which encourages them in the ridiculous notion that I should be better behaved): Here are some of the network’s upcoming shows:

Hound Big Brother: a group of attractive young people are locked up in a house with a lively Hound. They compete to leave the house.

The Bachelor: Hound Edition: A handsome black and tan Hound is introduced to a bevy of luscious female hounds. They steal his toys, eat his food, play with each other and completely ignore him.

America’s Worst Behaved Show Dog: each week America’s top show dogs compete to humiliate their handlers in the show ring.

The Biggest Loser: A group of overweight contestants grow exhausted and emaciated in the presence of a group of rambunctious Hounds: no one eats, no one sleeps, and everyone exercises!

Hound Road Show: Hounds present their most exciting “steals” for appraisal by a team of officious experts

Two and a Half Hounds: a human with two hounds has a lapse in sanity and acquires a puppy; fortunately there is nothing left in the house to destroy.

Hound Swap: Two families swap hounds hoping to get a better one. Disappointment ensues.

Hound: A high priced defense attorney Hound becomes a poor prosecuting one. He still wins all of his cases. Hounds usually do.

Ugly Hound: a show about a south of the border hound is rejected by the network because there are no ugly hounds to cast.

Are You Smarter Than a Hound: No. (A very short show)

Gossip Hound: a group of young Hounds misbehave on the Upper East Side. Also on the Upper west Side. Also in Midtown. Also in Greenwich Village. Also in Soho. Also in Tribeca…

Hound Who? A Hound with amnesia stuns friends and colleagues by acting like a Golden Retriever.

Project Hound Runway: A group of fashion forward Hounds create shocking designs from previously wearable clothing.

ounds Kitchen: A home movie.

(Here I am by the way with Sammy a young girl bulldog who hasn't learned to reject me yet!)

Anyway, so much frivolity is contrary to my essentially serious and dignified nature. And it is in the spirit of displaying this facet of my personality that I have chosen the subject of our visit to the Wimsey Institute of Houndish Art for this week. Today we examine the work of another great Dutch painter, Frans Hals. Hals is known for his lively, fresh portraits and loose brush strokes. He favored a silvery light and giving his portraits a “you are there” immediacy: Portrait of Willem van Heythusen (Frans Hals, circa 1625, Alte Pinakothek, Munich). Willem van Heythusen was a wealthy, religious yarn trader who used his wealth to establish two almshouses. However his serious and somewhat haughty demeanor makes him a little unsympathetic to our modern eye. But see how different he appears when painted in the company of a serious and haughty Hound who is guaranteed to get the better of him and keep him humble. Portrait of a Wimsey van Heythusen and his human.

Well time to go do something I am not supposed to.

Until next time,

Wimsey, media mogul