Friday, July 25, 2008

Wimsey's Blog: Diary of a Manhattan Bloodhound

Entry # 77
July 25, 2008

Hello Everyone. Wimsey here coming to you from the sticky, stinky precincts of Manhattan’s Upper West Side where the summer weather is putting quite a crimp in my usual activities. Basically I still try to run around like a maniac but then I get hot and flop down in the grass—a heaping mound of panting hound-- much to the dismay of my human Maria and her friend Elizabeth (“Look! Wimsey’s overheated! Quick run and fetch the cool water for his brow whilst I fan him in this grassy patch of shade!). Usually I head for a mud puddle but my humans tend to discourage this, although it is unclear how much dirtier actual mud would make me (I sense the impending arrival of a Wimsey Bath Night). Anyway, then we all sit in the grass for quite a delightful interval which extends my park time very pleasurably. I think I will flop down in the snow this winter too.

And then there is Maria’s persistent belief that I don’t like all the thunderstorms that accompany the newly tropicalized Big Apple (The Baked Apple?)--merely because I climb into bed with her when these storms occur. As a conscientious owner of a human I can do no less than insure her comfort during unpleasant weather--never let it be said that I don’t do anything unselfish for my humans. But I do come in for a lot of extra indulgence (is this really possible?) when thunderstorms strike. This week Maria went out for one of her rare social forays (Hounds and active social lives are antithetical constructs) when thunderstorms were threatened. Consequently, I was whisked away by Elizabeth for my after work walk (their work, not mine—leisure being much more conducive to my talents) and fed a lovely cooked meal (too bad Elizabeth’s culinary skills don’t extend to the preparation of human meals—my food is always better than hers) and kept company lest the impending storm alarm me.

But storms or no, I do love visiting with Elizabeth, especially us cooking together in her kitchen. I am a most helpful and considerate sous chef-- carefully inspecting all food items, checking the refrigerator temperature by sticking my head inside and watching all of her preparations with the most flattering attention. And I am sure she greatly appreciates the companionship that only a 125 lb. Hound in a cozy New York City kitchen can provide. But of course in addition to the great food Elizabeth fixes for me, I also love Newspaper Reading Time which I turn into Newspaper Shredding Time. Nothing gets me quite as excited as the sight of Elizabeth heading towards the couch with a stack of the day’s newspapers! We are especially fond of The Wall Street Journal—she because of its excellent journalistic qualities and me because of its excellent shredding qualities. And it shreds equally well with both mouth and claw (owing to my aversion to the nail clippers my paws greatly resemble bear claws which turn out to be excellent tools for the shredding of all manner of materials and exceedingly useful when my mouth is otherwise occupied). It makes me think I would make an excellent newspaper publisher:

Wimsey’s Hound Street Journal

Economics: The Hound and the money supply: Does more of one necessarily lead to less of the other?

Financial Outlook: Inflation Alert: Is a larger Hound necessarily a better Hound? Or does he just consume more of your scarce resources?

Personal Finance: 10 tips for cutting back on your lifestyle so as to have more money to spend on your Hound.

National Affairs: Is your Hound smarter than a politician? According to a new Harvard Medical School Study-- which shocked no one except the politicians-- the answer is yes. Hounds actually have more neurons. They’re also more popular, better looking, never lie and always make good on their promises whether you want them to or not.

Science and Technology: General Motors will introduce new vehicle powered by Hound generated natural gas, an abundant, renewable biofuel.

International Affairs:
How to say “I have a magnificent Hound” in ten languages and “I am sorry my Hound poked you in the crotch” in thirty.

Government: Congress decides it doesn’t actually matter who you vote for, Hounds rule regardless.

Financial Markets: Is your dog a Bull (stubborn) or a Bear (destructive) or a Hound (both).

Travel: Don’t! (or at least not without your Hound)

Obituaries: Time. Money. Sleep. Personal Possessions. Cleanliness. Furniture. Gardens. Contents of the refrigerator. Contents of the garbage bin. Contents of the dinner plate. Your life.

Entertainment: our entertainment editor is on vacation at an undisclosed location too glamorous to name. Please select one from column A and one from column B note: (multiple answers possible):

Column A

Amy Winehouse
Britney Spears
Jennifer Aniston
Miley Cyrus
The Olsen Twins
Kirsti Alley
Paris Hilton

Column B

Is in rehab
Needs to be in rehab
Belongs to a cult
Starting a cult
Flashed an intimate body part in public
Flashed an intimate body part on the Internet
Flashes intimate body parts everywhere
Collects children
Collects more children
Pines for ex-husband
Pines for other people’s husbands
Is perfect

Anyway, I always have a very enjoyable time with Elizabeth, although lately she has been walking me on the Dreaded Halti (which I defeat by rolling around in the grass until it slips off of my muzzle) in the hopes of giving her shoulder time to heal (I can’t imagine how she hurt her shoulder). But as I always say, “No Pain. No Hound.”

Well it has also been a busy week around here in my in-box. I have been nominated for an Arte y Pico award (see the icon) and tagged (, and am supposed to nominate five other bloggers-- but everyone seems to have already been nominated and in any case I think that all dogs who blog deserve to be given awards all the time for all the work we put into our craft and for putting up with all the cameras that are stuck in our faces all the time (personally I like to assume an endearing pose and then whip around at the last minute so that my humans get a fine photo of the Wimsey posterior—between all the messing with my anal glands, checking my poop, defending my testicles and watching me groom my genitals, it’s where all the action is anyway, so why not immortalize it photographically?)

Now for my tag, I am supposed to answer the following questions, so although I never obey humans, I will obey this request from a fellow canine:

What is your name? Wimsey
If you could change your name, what would it be? Rambo (I think I deserve a much more macho name than Wimsey)
What is your pet’s name (it can be a webkinz or a real pet)? Maria
If you could change your pet’s name what would it be? Maria Slave of Wimsey
What is your brother or sister’s name? I am currently an only dog, but maybe Elizabeth counts since I pester her so much.
If you could change their name, what would it be? Elizabeth Also Slave of Wimsey

Hope that takes care of it and now we can beetle over to the Wimsey Institute of Houndish Art for our weekly visit. Today I am in a very philosophical mood and inclined to look to the ancients as a source of wisdom. Rembrandt did this too, especially when a rich Sicilian patron offered him beaucoup de ducats to paint a philosopher. He chose Aristotle. Aristotle With A Bust of Homer (Rembrandt, 1653, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York). Rembrandt chose to contrast two ways of being a genius—Aristotle in the sphere of philosophy and science and Homer in the sphere of literature. Aristotle is painted in the rich attire so well suited to Rembrandt’s gold tones and is wearing the expensive bit of bling given to him to his most famous pupil, Alexander the Great. Sadly, Aristotle was not able to influence Alexander enough to prevent him from roaming around conquering the world, and so we see Aristotle contemplating whether Homer is ultimately the more successful genius. However, I think that Aristotle would do better to contemplate a genius of a canine kind and one who never fails to influence (some say control) the actions of those around him—a magnificent Hound! See how noble and wise the sagacious Hound looks as Aristotle touches him on his flat and pointy head. Aristotle now recognizes that he is in the presence of true genius and gazes at the Hound with unbounded admiration, perhaps ruing just a little that he had not the Hound’s skill when it came to reining in young Greek dictators. Aristotle with a Bust of Wimsey.

Well I am off to bask in my air conditioned splendor until my next expedition into the steamy jungle of New York City. Perhaps I will see the wild turkey that is living in Central Park, whom I greatly admire and would like to get to know much better.

Until next time,

Wimsey, Hot Hound in the City

Friday, July 18, 2008

Wimsey's Blog: Diary of a Manhattan Bloodhound

Entry # 76
July 18, 2008

Hello everyone. Wimsey here--coming to you direct from Hound on Hudson, otherwise known as New York’s Upper West Side. Well we had concerts in Central Park this week which meant that there were lots of extra vertical surfaces for me to pee upon and lots of extra people wandering about for me to drool upon, including some admiring Russians. When my human Maria and her friend Elizabeth asked how to say bloodhound in Russian, the woman gazed at me thoughtfully and replied “We don’t have this kind of dog in Russia.” I have news for her, with regard to me, nobody has this kind of dog anywhere. And a great shame it is too. I am sure the lack of bloodhounds explains Russia’s less than salubrious history. We Hounds tend to keep humans humble and focused on practical matters such the preservation their personal property rather than on the establishment of serfdoms, monarchies and dictatorships. If no man is a king to his valet, no human is powerful to his Hound.

Now it is a little known fact that many of the great historical achievements of the world are due to Hounds. For instance, during the reign of Mary Tudor, Hounds were banished from court because her Spanish husband and his courtiers always wore black and objected to the conspicuous drool stains left by the Hounds. And what was the result? Mary’s reign was undoubtedly marked by elegant and unspoiled clothing but was ultimately unsuccessful and brutal. She is not remembered fondly by History or by Hounds. But fortunately her young half sister Elizabeth had an entirely different attitude and relied extensively on her Hound for wise counsel. Indeed, it was her Hound’s wise counsel that was responsible for creating her enlightened reign and establishing England as a global super power.

Royal Advisor: Your Grace, what should we do about the question of religion that has so divided us?

Elizabeth: (observing her Hound moving slowly and carefully whilst using his nose with the utmost delicacy upon a mound of rotting vegetables). Nothing must be done in haste! It is a delicate pile….I mean question. We must move with the caution and wisdom of mine esteemed Hound lest we bring a rotting pile of vegetables…I mean rebellion upon our heads.

Royal Advisor: And who will you name as your chief advisor?

Elizabeth: (observing that her Hound had climbed onto the lap of William Cecil and drooled upon his head). Mine Hound hath conferred a mark of extreme favor uponeth that gentleman. Whom mine Hound liketh so do I. He shall advise me.

Royal Advisor: And what does your Grace wish to do with all these marriage proposals that keep flooding in?

Elizabeth: You mean all those documents that mine wise Hound hath shreddeth? I see no marriage proposals here, merely scraps of parchment.

Royal Advisor: It seems, your Grace, that your Hound hath been busy exploring your estates and marking his territory whereverith he goeth.

Elizabeth: Yes! And he hath brought me back a treasure—my prized rosebush! England too must send forth its Hounds…I mean men.. to bring back treasure from around the globe and to claim new territory that doesn’t actually belong to us. Although the men may methinks choose to employ a somewhat different marker.

Royal Advisor: Your Grace the Spanish have launched a great Armada! What shall we do?

Elizabeth: The Spanish again! My Hound has never forgiven them. We must launch our ships when my Hound pointeth his nose to the northwest to inhale the strong winds blowing from that direction. The winds from that quarter will help blow away those heinous Hound hating Spaniards!

And thus it was that we Hounds were responsible for one of the greatest reigns in English history. But Hounds are special in other ways as well. The other day, for instance, Maria noticed that a local dog show, which was sponsored by a hound club, was holding “hound good citizenship tests.” Now the American Kennel Club’s Canine Good Citizen program consists of 10 feats of obedience that a dog must perform to be registered as a canine good citizen. But as anyone familiar with the test knows, a Hound is about as likely to pass it as is Gordon Ramsay to enjoy a meal at McDonalds. So of course, we have to have our own special test:

The American Kennel Club’s Canine Good Citizen Test (CGC) vs. Wimsey’s Hound Good Citizen Test (HGC)

1. CGC Test: Accepting a friendly stranger. The dog sits politely while its handler talks to a stranger.
HGC Test: The friendly stranger stands politely while the Hound pokes its nose in the stranger’s crotch.

2. CGC Test: Sitting politely for petting: The dog must allow itself to be petted by a friendly stranger.
HGC Test: The friendly stranger must allow himself to be snuffled, nose wanded and drooled upon while petting the friendly Hound.

3. CGC Test: Appearance and grooming: the dog allows itself to be brushed by the friendly stranger.
HGC Test: The Hound allows himself to be brushed by the friendly stranger who chokes on all the hair coming off of him. The Hound then steals the brush and chews it up.

4. CGC Test: Out for a walk on a loose leash: This is to demonstrate that the handler is in control of the dog.
HGC Test: Out for a tow on a tight leash: This is to demonstrate that the Hound’s nose is in control of the walk

5. CGC Test: Walking though a crowd: This is to demonstrate that the dog can move politely through pedestrian traffic.
HGC Test: Mowing though a crowd: This is to demonstrate that the Hound can enable his handler to cut swiftly through any amount of annoying pedestrian traffic. (note: the Hound gets extra points if it lives in a crowded city).

6. CGC Test: Sit and down on command and staying in place: This is to demonstrate that the dog has training and will respond to the handler’s commands.
HGC Test: Sit and down and staying in place when the Hound feels like it: This is to demonstrate that the Hound has the proper independence of mind necessary to be a good Hound. The handler issues commands. The Hound does what he wants.

7. CGC Test: Coming when called: the handler walks 10 feet away from the dog and calls it.
HGC Test: Not coming when called: the handler walks 10 feet away from the dog and pleads with it to come. The Hound walks 10 feet in the opposite direction paying no attention to the handler (unless the handler has previously rubbed himself in something that interests the Hound, such as a rotting animal carcass).

8. CGC Test: Reactions to another dog: This is to demonstrate that a dog can behave politely around other dogs. Two handlers approach, shake hands and part with the dogs showing no more than mild interest.
HGC Test: Reactions to another dog: This is to demonstrate that a Hound can behave politely around other dogs. First he must bay loudly in greeting. Then he must politely insert his nose into the other dog’s bottom. Finally he must demonstrate his great esteem for the other dog by requiring that his handler drag him away.

9. CGC Test: Reaction to distraction: This is to demonstrate that the dog remains confident in the face of such distractions as joggers, dropped chairs or rolling crates.
HGC Test: Reaction to distraction: This is to demonstrate that the Hound has absolutely no intention of letting himself be harmed—that job belongs to the handler. The Hound will swiftly step behind the handler at the first sign of trouble.

10. CGC Test: Supervised separation: the handler leaves the dog in the care of a stranger for 3 minutes and the dog must show no signs of agitation.
HGC Test: Supervised separation: the handler leaves the Hound in the care of a stranger for 3 minutes and the Hound couldn’t care less because it’s a Hound.

I know that I would pass the Hound Good Citizen test with flying colors! I do every day in fact. Anyway, summer is in full swing here in NYC and humans like to escape from all the heat, humidity and Hounds by taking in a summer flick or two. And although I am not permitted in theaters, as Chairman and CEO of Wimsey Cinematic Enterprises I have several new summer movies in the works:

The Dark Hound: A movie featuring an impassioned brooding Hound whose mission is to save humanity from doing what it wants and who is worried that he is becoming less stubborn and losing his edge. He is called in by the police of Gotham City to capture his arch enemy, The Houndster, who likes to play practical jokes such as having his gang of Hounds create their own version of The Waterfalls and trapping Mayor Houndberg in his house behind a giant wall of poop.

Hound Mia: A group of Hounds with musical taste band together to bay deafeningly in response to Abba songs. As a subplot, a young Hound wonders who her father is. They do a DNA test to find out because they live in the 21st century.

Houndboy II: A group of rebellious red Hounds (redundant) plan to take over the earth. They succeed without anyone really noticing because they are so cute.

Houndcock: A movie about a super Hound (redundant). The plot twist: he is massively destructive. Audiences seeking an escape from reality will be greatly disappointed.

Indiana Hound and the Kingdom of the High Value Crystal Skull: A senior Hound who is really way too old to be making adventure movies and his young sidekick attempt to steal a crystal ornament because everyone else wants it too and they think it would be fun to play with and to resource guard.

Wim Wimsey: An American Hound: Wim Wimsey dreams of investigating and uncovering things. His dreams come true when he uncovers the topsoil of the lawn and investigates the underwear and personal possessions of the colorful cast of boarders he lives with. He also becomes wealthy and successful by selling dolls of himself.

Well as you know, in addition to movies I also have my own art institute, and it is once again time for us to pay a visit to the Wimsey Institute of Houndish Art. Today we visit another Flemish master of Baroque art, Peter Paul Rubens: Rubens, His Wife Helena Fourment and Their Son Peter Paul, (Peter Paul Rubens, late 1630s, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York). Now it has always seemed to me that this famous family portrait is missing something. But this is easily remedied by the insertion of the family Hound. Notice that the Hound, who is gazing up at the wife mirrors the husband who is gazing down, thus adding an important element of symmetry to the painting. Both man and Hound clearly adore the woman in the picture, (although it rather looks like the Hound is expecting a delicious piece of liver to fall from her delicate hand) but the Hound’s interest is entirely legal. Not to gossip and tell art tales, but Rubens, gifted painter though he was, is surely up for the dirty old man of art award (although Picasso might give him a run for his money) as in 1630 the 53 year old Rubens married the 16 year old Helena, a girl for whom he had a predilection of painting in the nude. So yesterday’s great artist would be today’s felon, but it seemed to have worked for them—she produced 5 children in ten years until the old boy popped off—but before he did that he unquestionably produced some great art, made especially great with the insertion of a gently imploring Hound. Peter Paul Rubens, his family with their Beautiful Hound.

Until next time, stay cool,

Wimsey, a Hound of Historical Proportions
Sunday in the Park with Wimsey Montage
First I meet Elizabeth at EJ's Luncheonette

Next I contemplate meeting a baby walrus!

I am served cold water at frequent intervals

There is a wild turkey in Central Park!!! I really like turkey!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Wimsey's Blog: Diary of a Manhattan Bloodhound

Entry # 75
July 11, 2008

Hello Everyone. It’s me Wimsey, recovering nicely from the Fourth of July festivities here on Manhattan’s sun, fun and rain soaked Upper West Side. My human Maria and her friend Elizabeth have made a charming new edition to their Wimsey Wear hounding fashion ensembles—they now escort me about with rain slickers tied around their waists. I mean what are sneakers, drool encrusted jeans and baggy t-shirts without this elegant accessory? Since it takes two (and sometimes four) hands to walk me, umbrellas are out of the question so I am wondering what is next—perhaps those hats that have the umbrellas attached? Now these chapeaux would really top off their outfits and make quite a bold fashion statement. And for once I don’t think it would be me that people were staring at.

But all this tropical weather is about to get worse as we enter the hurricane season. What I love about the hurricane season is that technology now gets my humans all anxious weeks ahead of time (“Oh no! A hurricane has formed off the coast of Africa! It could strike the Upper West Side next month! It will annoy Wimsey and it will mess up his coat. Perhaps we shouldn’t even think about bathing him!) And then, oh look, these hurricanes somehow miraculously dissipate somewhere in the 3,000 miles between the Upper West Side and Africa.

Elizabeth is already weather-obsessed and consults the local Doppler radar before each of my walks. She tries to time them to avoid our frequent deluges (“It looks to me like the next approaching rain cell is traveling at 9 miles per hour north-northwest and our best chance of escape is to walk Wimsey between 18:14 and 19:02 hours”). Or not. Meteorological forecasting turns out not to be one of her talents and we all end up getting soaked anyway in spite of her efforts. But her faith in the mystical power of the Doppler remains. Probably because she’s blinded by science. But the really upsetting thing about hurricane season is that they name the storms alphabetically and they never get to Hurricane Wimsey

Al Roker: It appears that a new hurricane, Hurricane Wimsey, has formed off the coast of Africa and it looks to be immensely powerful. The worst storm of the season.

Wiilard Scott: It would be considering its name.

Al Roker: And it appears to have a mind of its own when choosing its path—it seems to suddenly veer north, then stop, then hurl itself east. Sometimes it even goes backwards. It doesn’t obey any of the rules.

Willard Scott: Yes, that’s a common problem with Wimsey Class storms. One never knows what they are going to do next, only that it won’t be good.

Al Roker: Most of us are fortunate that we never had to live though one—I hear their destructive power is enormous.

Willard Scott: That’s an understatement, Al. Nothing is safe. Not even your underwear.

Al Roker: I also understand that they bring a tremendous amount of moisture.
Willard Scott: That’s true. Absolutely everything gets soaked. And the noise is deafening.

Al Roker: Yes I understand the howling is hard to ignore.

Willard Scott: Nothing about a Wimsey Class storm can be ignored, but the noises they make seem to be pitched lower than regular howling, which only adds to its penetrating power.

Al Roker: And then there is of course the peculiar and pungent odor that they bring.
Willard Scott: Some say they pick it up from some exotic African vegetation but it’s a pretty unique odor.

Al Roker: And how long do these storms last?

Willard Scott: Hard to say, Al. They are very stubborn. Waiting them out is wholly ineffective. They stay until they want to go somewhere else. Enduring them is part of the burden we bear as humans.

But in spite of the threat of hurricanes, there is still a lot of summer fun to be had here in New York. You will see from the pictures below that the Great Lawn of Central Park is being converted into a concert arena. Bon Jovi is apparently going to play there on Saturday. I myself think it would be much more entertaining to listen to a band called Hound Jovi. I think I would make an excellent front man and they wouldn’t have to waste electricity on microphones.

Similarities between Rock Bands and Hound Bands

Rock bands trash hotel rooms. Hound bands trash your rooms.

Rock bands rip their clothes off. Hound bands rip your clothes off.

Rock bands are loud and unruly. Hound bands are louder and more unruly.

Rock bands are rebelling against society. Hound bands are rebelling against you.

Women find rock bands irresistible. Women find Hound bands even more irresistible.

Rock bands like to sleep around. Hound bands also like sleep around (preferably in your bed).

Rock bands wear leather. Hound bands chew leather.

Rock bands have a mosh pit. Hound bands have a nosh pit.

Rock bands abuse drugs. Hound bands abuse you.

And just like a rock star, I have to contend with the copious attentions of New York’s Hound groupies. You wouldn’t think that there would be Hound groupies in New York, but there are. They are generally people who have never lived with a Hound. They think we’re cute.

And of course, I too have to deal with being photographed all the time. I often wonder what people do with all these photos of me? Do they show them to their friends and families as mementoes of their visit to New York City (“Everything’s bigger in New York, even the Hounds” or “People in New York are crazy—they live with giant Hounds”).
Or do they hang my picture on their walls along with the bloodhound motto “Yes I Will!” for inspiration about getting what they want out of life? Notice the bloodhound motto is not “Yes I can” because of course we can. Being able to do something is beside the point. What matters is that we will do something. We will dig up your yard. We will shove you off the bed and the couch. We will fling drool on your walls, your guests and your possessions. We will steal your dinner. We will redecorate your home. We will fill your abode with Hound scent. We will steal and shred your underwear. We will dislocate your shoulder. We will drag you down the stairs. We will knock you over. We will use our nose on everything, everywhere at every time. And most important, we will never give up.

Now many people have wondered where this indomitable will comes from (and my humans have wondered how to circumvent it) but I like to think I am just gifted. Instead of fighting it, I think my humans should just write a self help book (you know like the guy who wrote Elizabeth I, CEO).

Wimsey’s Rules

Keep your life uncluttered by unnecessary thoughts, like those about what other people want.

Focus on your own needs. After all no one is as important as you.

Be clear and direct about what you want: never leave people in doubt as to whether it is your intention to dig up the ornamental flower bed or pee all over the rosebushes.

If you start a job, always finish it, even if people are screaming at you.

Aim high. (except when crashing into people, then take out the knees). And remember: a Hound’s reach should exceed his grasp (but never that of his mouth).

Innovate—keep people guessing about what you will do next; it keeps their attention focused on you. Where it belongs.

Be opportunistic: if someone turns his back on a roast chicken, go for it, even if you were originally intending to raid the garbage.

Never listen to gossip or anything else people say. It’s all nonsense anyway.

Never go out of your way to please someone; it’s their job to please you.

Never question the meaning of your existence—assume its purpose is to get your own way.

Take risk: even if you might get caught, your audacity will strike terror into the hearts of those around you.

Focus your energies: block out everything and everyone who stands between you and your goal. Remember you are bigger, stronger, louder and droolier than most of them.

Keep your friends close and your enemies far away. Life is pleasanter that way.

Maintain your integrity: a bribe is the slippery slope to obedience training.

Be resourceful: when one path is blocked, dig another.

Never let people call you stubborn. You are persistent, determined and tenacious. It sounds better.

Well I believe that I have a lot of wisdom to impart. Humans always seem to lead such complicated lives while we Hounds find bliss in a simple life devoted to furthering our own interests--- like a lot of very successful humans, actually. I am sure that behind every hugely successfully human you will find a Hound.

But now it is once again time to visit the Wimsey Institute of Houndish Art. For those of you who enjoy these visits, I am pleased to tell you that you will soon also be able to find the entire collection duplicated (along with my expert commentary) at a separate single blog site devoted to the Institute: And I am also considering a line of t-shirts to show off the masterworks from the Institute’s collection. I bet Philippe de Montebello doesn’t have t-shirts (I bet he doesn’t even own one, either!)

But now we turn our attention to a painting that I am sure M. de Montebello, as chief curator of the Met, is well familiar with: Portrait of a Woman, (probably of the Van Beresteyn family), (Rembrandt, 1632, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York). Rembrandt painted this striking portrait when he was a young man and just beginning to perfect the golden tones with which he imbued his art. (The Van Beresteyns, by the way, were one of the ruling families of the city of Haarlem ((the city after which New York’s Harlem was named!)) with an interest in art). Nevertheless we can see the master’s hand at work in the golden threads of the lady’s garment and especially in the texture of her extravagant ruff.. Now when it comes to extravagant ruffs I didn’t think there was any way to top mine (my humans frequently comment on the distinguished Elizabethan air my ruff imparts) but I think that I look devilishly handsome in this artificial version which really enlivens the plainness of the portrait. The lady is indeed very somber, but with the insertion of a fine baroque Hound we at least know that she is not, nor likely to be, lonely. See how the burnished golden undertones tones of this magnificent Hound’s coat contrasts with and enhances Rembrandt’s fine treatment of the black gown! Wimsey With a Ruff.

Well I hope you all have a pleasant weekend. And if you are in the Theater District this Saturday at 3:30-6:30 drop by the Broadway Barks event at Shubert Alley hosted by Bernadette Peters and Mary Tyler Moore and the casts of all the Broadway shows. It is an annual free event to help homeless animals and as I generously donate Elizabeth’s time to the ASPCA she may be in attendance as well.

Until next time,

Wimsey, New York’s ruff rock star
(this is the precinct I am always trying to sneak into! They serve and protect. I lounge and play)

Friday, July 4, 2008

Wimsey's Blog: Diary of a Manhattan Bloodhound

Entry #74
July 4, 2008

Hello Everyone. It’s me Wimsey wishing you all a Happy July 4th (except for those of you from other countries to whom I wish my usual happy Friday--although I am assuming that July 4th is not an especially happy Friday in the UK).

Anyway, my human Maria and her friend Elizabeth never go away on July 4th since 1) they would have to take me with them so it’s not really much of a vacation and 2) going away would most likely involve the use of an automobile, a conveyance whose mysteries the ladies have yet to fully penetrate—they don’t know how to pump gas (which considering the price of the stuff, is probably a good thing) and windows and trunks fly open and closed randomly with much squealing and speculation about automotive poltergeists. And although they have a GPS, like many New Yorkers they hate being told what to do (“Could the GPS say something using the conditional tense more like “Based on the latest available information, it would probably be advisable that you turn left, in my opinion, should you choose to take my well intentioned advice” instead of the imperative “turn left!”, which sort of sounds like it really means “Turn left you idiot!”) And then the ladies start arguing with it—“Don’t you tell me what to do!” and “What gives you the right to order me around” (I don’t know, access to maps of the world, perhaps) and “Don’t you take that tone with me. You’re such a know it all”-- it’s like they need Dr. Phil to mediate (“How does it make you feel when ordered to turn left…”). And then they turn right. And we get lost anyway. Sigh. I do my best to help them, but they are seldom appreciative of my efforts. But at least we live on a coastline, so there is at least one direction they can’t drive in although I do sometimes think they are still looking for the Atlantic Ocean Bridge.

But July 4th is a wonderful time to be a bloodhound in New York City. First there are tourists from all over the world clearly puzzled by the historical links between hot dogs and nation building but who are only too happy to take pictures of, admire and pet an iconic American Hound such as myself (I never divulge that my origins actually lie in the Middle East and later in France. Two distinctly non-hot dog chomping regions, although I suppose a hot dog could just be considered a patriotic saucisson). And then there are humans and their picnics spread enticingly all over the park. I like to menace these picnics with the massive nasal equipment that can only be brought to bear by an animal of my majestic proportions and olfactory abilities (“He’s spending a lot of time with his nose in the potato salad—I wonder if the mayonnaise has gone off?”). And tonight there will be a magnificent fireworks display on the East River, but personally I think if humans wanted a noisy display they should anchor a barge of baying bloodhounds there instead.

And the other news this week is that there are apparently a few puppies available from a very distinguished litter and Maria, who has her hands full (and her pocketbook empty) with me, was desperate to convince Elizabeth to take one of the adorable little beasts. But it was all “Yes, they are cute, and correct me if I am wrong, but won’t they grow up to be Wimseys?” And “Perhaps there is some mistake and they will actually grow up to be Golden Retrievers?” And she
(here I am being double teamed by a pair of vicious lab pups)
knows whereof she speaks—last week I had a costly (and wholly innocuous as it turns out) tummy bug necessitating the racking up of more frequent flier miles on the well worn Visa card for vacations no one can take-- although I am told that service dogs can ride with their humans (“This is Wimsey my service dog. He serves to remind me each day that I serve him.”). Of course Maria and Elizabeth are really my service humans. But really Elizabeth claims that another bloodhound would be inimical to the proper functioning of her liver (“There is not enough gin in the world…”) so the prospect of the puppy has been abandoned.

But back to the celebration of the July 4th holiday. Few people realize how instrumental Hounds were in the formation of the Republic, so let us review some of the seminal events that led up to the day we celebrate today:

The French and Indian War (1754-1763): The French wanted their Hounds back. The British refused on the grounds that the colonists would starve without them. Britain prevailed but spent a lot of money (the spending of money and the harboring of Hounds being linked principles throughout history).

The Sugar Act 1764: In attempt to raise money and promote good dental hygiene among the Hounds, Britain taxed West Indian sugar. The lack of sugar left the Hounds sluggish and irritable. The colonists were peeved.

Currency Act of 1764: The colonists were issuing a lot of paper currency to replace the notes that the Hounds chewed up. Britain prohibited this as inflationary.

Quartering Act 1765: Britain declared that colonists were obligated to house and feed British soldiers. Colonists objected as Hounds already took up all the space and stole all the food. (especially as they had to compensate for the lack of sugar).

Stamp Act 1765: The most outrageous of all the British taxes as it was the first direct tax and mandated that stamps had to be bought and affixed to all legal documents, newspapers and playing cards—in fact to all the documents that Hounds most love to shred. The replacement cost would have bankrupted the colonies.

Stamp Act Congress 1765: 27 delegates and their Hounds from nine colonies met in New York City (where else!) to air their grievances and eat a little sushi.

The Sons and Hounds of Liberty are founded: Led by the full bodied and frothy Samuel Adams this group of hot heads revved up anti-British sentiment and are associated with the famous “Don’t Tread on Me” flag, which after much debate was changed to a rattlesnake rather than a bloodhound’s tail.

Townsend Acts 1767: Yet more taxes on paper, glass and tea. The Hounds were outraged—all these taxes were cutting into their toy and rawhide money and their humans were spending time in political debate rather than playing with their Hounds. Consequently they took matters into their own paws and started sneaking the stuff into the country. Britain sent in the troops led by General Cesar Millan.

Committees of Correspondence:
The ever popular Sam Adams organizes teams of Hounds to carry information and messages around the colonies, keeping everyone up to speed on the latest British perfidies, especially as it related to Hounds.

The Tea Act 1773 and the Boston Tea Party: The British East India company is given a monopoly to trade tea in the colonies. Hounds sneak aboard the boats, play with the tea and end up pushing it into Boston Harbor.

Intolerable Acts 1774: In response to the Boston Tea party gatherings by packs of hounds and their humans are prohibited and Boston Harbor is closed, depriving the hounds of a prime swimming venue.

Lexington and Concord 1775: The British try to arrest the effervescent Sam Adams but the colonists are warned in time by the ride of Paul Revere and the ear drum shattering baying of his trusty Hound, Argent (“one bay if by land and two bay if by sea.”…)

Common Sense: 1776: Thomas Paine, inspired by the independent nature of his Hound, is inspired to write the pamphlet Common Sense suggesting that the colonies emulate these estimable Hounds and become independent.

The Flag 1776: George Washington asks Betsy Ross to sew a flag. The original design actually had more stars and stripes but her Hound ate them.

The Declaration of Independence July 4, 1776: The final straw came in the spring and summer of 1776 when there was a rumor that the British Crown was about to levy a tax on Hounds (“We can live without tea, legal documents, newspapers, sugar and glass but we are helpless without our Hounds!”) The colonies were galvanized into action: Thomas Jefferson, a brilliant orator whose hair was as red as that of his vocal Hound, writes the Declaration of Independence at the suggestion of his Hound who declares his independence every day. Jefferson modeled the concept of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” after the philosophy of his Hound, tactfully omitting the part about the pursuit of happiness involving the wanton destruction of personal property.

So today we honor all those brave and independent minded colonial Founding Hounds who provided the inspiration and guidance to America’s Founding Fathers. And of course especially to Jefferson’s Hound who ate many versions of the Declaration that he deemed sub-standard.

Appropriately, we honor a great man this week on our visit to the Wimsey Institute of Houndish Art, George Washington. Washington Crossing the Delaware (Emmanuel Leutze, 1851, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York). Now in December of 1776 General Washington had a lot of problems—the Brits had kicked him out of Long Island (and captured valuable Hamptons real estate), then they kicked him out of New York and forced him to cross the Hudson and flee to New Jersey (a New Yorker’s worst nightmare!) and then finally he even got kicked out of New Jersey. Rapidly running out desirable of tri-state options, Washington camped out on the Pennsylvania (“the boonies”) side of the Delaware River when his Hound announced that there was a strong odor of Hessians coming from the New Jersey side (‘Are you sure you smell bratwurst? Maybe it’s fish and chips—there are supposed to be a lot of Brits lurking on the Jersey shore”). But at the urging of his fearless Hound, Benjamin Franklin Wimsie, who was eager to capture the cache of delectable sausages, Washington led his brave men to a successful surprise raid on the Hessian camp. Here we see the scene commemorating Washington and his heroic Hound: Washington and Wimsie crossing the Delaware.

Well enjoy your celebrations (particularly all you tax attorneys out there who can take pride in the fact that a great nation was forged from bad tax policy). And in honor of all my personal contributions to the national welfare I am to be Grom gelato’d today.

Until next time,

Wimsey a Hound of 1776 virtues

I like to recycle!