Friday, April 24, 2009

Wimsey's Blog: Diary of a Manhattan Bloodhound #116

Entry # 116
April 24, 2009

Hello Everyone. Wimsey here, coming to you from Manhattan’s Upper West Side where we are having winter, spring and summer all on sequential days. It’s wreaking havoc with my delicate metabolism which gets deranged by these sudden and premature shifts to warm weather, especially when there are not yet shady trees to loll about under when I want to cool off. Lounging under daffodils does not somehow produce the same effect. But there were still plenty of flowering trees about this week and my human Maria and her friend Elizabeth carried on with photographing me in front of them so I am afraid there is yet another flowering tree montage featuring yours truly.

And of course whether or not I am standing in front of flowering trees I am constantly being photographed by tourists from pretty much everywhere in the world, which makes me wonder what everyone does with all these holiday snaps of me? Does my photo end up in people’s video scrap books of their New York’s vacation hot spots along with the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building? Should I be listed in the guidebooks as a “must see” (and must hear) feature of Central Park? Or are people using my photographs as evidence that people in New York City are incorrigibly eccentric—keeping outsized Hounds in undersized apartments. It is really a great mystery. But as you may expect, given how unusual an urban sight I am, many people also want to know what kind of dog I am and given all the noise and hub bub about—not to mention the various language barriers—sometimes the word bloodhound gets mangled quite a bit. One fellow this Sunday thought that Maria said I was a blackhound, which made me think that we could invent all kinds of new types of Hounds:

The Harvest Hound:
A Hound with powerful spade like paws that was specifically developed by agrarian societies to be unleashed to assist with the harvest. Machines have made his function obsolete and today’s Harvest Hound mostly turns his considerable skill to harvesting ornamental shrubs, flower beds and couch stuffing.

The Tow Hound: This powerful Hound was developed to haul people around in carts. Today’s Tow Hound still does the same thing except without the carts.

The Pirate Hound:
As may be expected, this was an extraordinarily talented Hound whose purpose was to aid and abet larceny at sea. Pirate Hounds fell out of favor because they were so effective in their mission to liberate items that did not belong to them that even the pirates faced difficulty in retrieving their illicit booty. The Pirate Hound is believed to be the foundation stock of most of today’s modern Hounds.

The Bed Hound: This Hound was originally developed to supplement the function of a warming pan to create a warm and toasty bed for people to get into. Eventually the Hound’s utility was expanded to include keeping the bed warm and toasty even when people were actually sleeping in it. Central heating was thought to mark the decline of this Hound although some people say that it was due to the large number of owners who ended up sleeping on the stone cold floor while the Hound ended up sleeping in the warm and toasty bed. The desire to shove people completely out of bed has been largely bred out of this hot blooded Hound and has been replaced by the far more moderate tendency to shove people merely to the bed’s edge.

The Scrap Hound:
This was a brilliantly designed Hound whose function was green long before it was trendy. Farmers fed the Scrap Hound bits and pieces of stuff no one else wanted to eat where it was converted via the Hound’s extensive digestive system into enormous mounds of strongly scented poop that both helped grow more food and kept foraging people and animals at bay. The system broke down however when farmer’s wives and daughters began expanding the culinary repertoire of the adorable Scrap Hound causing it to gradually evolve into today’s Gourmet Dining Hound. Today the Gourmet Dining Hound is as likely to be consuming steak au poivre, poached salmon with dill sauce or even your dinner as chicken feet, potato peels and pig offal and is also much more likely to be found fertilizing the living room carpet as the vegetable garden.

In any case I think a Black Hound is a misnomer—anyone who is around us Hounds for very long soon realizes that green is the required color. But anyway, I must say I have had better weeks. Not only were there those endlessly flowering trees to be forced to visits but then there was this Fren>ch bulldog puppy who was no respecter of elders. This all was followed by some cold and rainy weather and Elizabeth developed a cold which meant that Maria was constantly offering my services as a nurse. Maria has this almost mystical belief in my power to promote good health and seems convinced that after a few days with me Elizabeth would be cured.

Nurse Wimsey: Here let me to fetch you some tissues.
Elizabeth: The box is empty!

Nurse Wimsey: I can’t imagine what happened to them. I’ll go unravel some toilet paper for you instead.

Elizabeth: Where’s my bottle of water?

Nurse Wimsey: The same place as your bottle of juice. Why don’t you scramble us some eggs?

Elizabeth: You ate my eggs!

Nurse Wimsey: It’s bad to overtax one’s digestive system when one has a cold . Starve a fever, feed a Hound.

Elizabeth: You’re crushing me!

Nurse Wimsey: It is important to keep warm when one is sick.

Elizabeth: Then why do all my wool socks have holes in them?

Nurse Wimsey: Well ventilated toes are essential to the healing process. We could take a warm bath—would that make you feel better?

Elizabeth: Only if I could take it alone.

Nurse Wimsey: The bathroom is the most dangerous room in the house. You know I never permit my charges to go there unattended. Besides if I don’t smear drool on you after you bathe your skin might dry out.

Elizabeth: Actually, I think I am feeling much better.

So perhaps Maria is right about my curative abilities. In any case we are apparently in for some hot weather and Elizabeth has offered to host me for a few days since she is already planning on running the AC at max, just the way I like it. I also like to wake her up early in the morning by snuffling her face and stop her from getting too much sleep at night by loud head shaking, water drinking and bed re-arranging so I am sure Elizabeth is looking forward immensely to a visit from me. Also of course I like to rest my chin on the window sill and look longingly out at Riverside Park when she is trying to work which tends to result in her ceasing to try to work and in her taking me to the park. And when it is eventually time to come in I climb up on a bench and refuse to move. And trying to get me to move results in some very disapproving stares from animal loving neighbors. She loves having me.

But with the warm weather there are also increasing opportunities for even more people to admire me. This evening we had a lovely walk where we ran into a lucky escape admirer. Lucky escape admirers are the folks who come running over to tell us how much they love bloodhounds and how they almost got one. “And what kind of dog did you actually get” asked Maria? “A black lab” answered the lucky escapee. The ladies nodded sagely. “A wise choice.” And then there was the ‘He’s Not a Dog, He’s a Lifestyle!” speech in the midst of which I got bored and executed one of my sudden shoulder wrenching charging over to see another dog maneuvers which really impressed the escapee. “Are you all right?’ he asked Elizabeth. And it was all, “Oh yes, Wimsey does this all the time.” So really it should be He’s Not a Dog, He’s a Lifestyle. A Dangerous Lifestyle!” And as usual humans’ pain is my gain, which is why the escapee is lucky.

Anyway, this week we take a quick look at another Cezanne that is featured in The Wimsey Institute of Houndish Art collection. The Card Players (Paul Cezanne 1890, Musee du Louvre, Paris). Cezanne painted several versions of this picture so he must have liked the subject—perhaps it reminded him of the men of his native Aix-en- Provence. In any case, even though the painting was done in the 1890s these men look very familiar to me—they have that same intense look of concentration that my humans have when they look at the computer. So it is only fitting that the men in the painting suffer the same consequences as do more contemporary humans—the unwelcome insertion of a magnificently disruptive Hound. Do not let his casual, heavy lidded appearance fool you—he is about to snatch a hand, and his human’s attention, for himself. Wimsey and the Card Players.

OK, it is time to rest up for the impending heat wave. There is talk of another foray north to the Conservatory Garden this Sunday in the hopes that the flowers are actually out this time and Elizabeth is busy checking out the fines in case I decide to take us for an unlawful swim into the Harlem Meer.

Until next time,

Wimsey, a lucky escape

Friday, April 17, 2009

Wimsey's Blog: Diary of a Manhattan Bloodhound #115

Entry #115
April 17, 2009

Hello everyone (or should I say Buongiorno), it’s me Wimsey coming to you from the tourist teeming streets of Manhattan’s Upper West Side where I have been on international meet and greet duty all week. Most notably this week my human Maria and I were accosted by a rather large group of Italian tourists who formed a very considerate horseshoe around me while loud cries of “bellissimo” and “perfetto” rang out in the tangy spring air. There was rather a lot more said in that language but as neither Maria nor I speak Italian and her friend Elizabeth-- our resident pseudo-linguist—was not with us—we were only able to focus on the two words we understood. Of course my humans would totally agree with the bellissimo part but had they command of Italian they may have taken issue with the perfetto bit. But there is no denying that I am a perfect Hound even if my credentials as a dog leave something (a lot) to be desired. Anyway, there was much meeting and greeting as I felt the need to individually nose wand each of these foreigners—one never knows when a stray mortadella may have been smuggled into the country requiring immediate confiscation—much to their evident delight.

And speaking of delight, Maria, Elizabeth and I all took a delightful four hour stroll in Central Park on Easter Sunday where flowering tree season has begun. Every year it is somehow imperative that I be photographed in front of as many of these trees as possible which is so annoying that I feel compelled to pee on them afterwards. And every year I am convinced that I am going to meet the Easter Bunny with exciting results. Now my humans have explained that the Easter Bunny does not really exist but I feel the need to go on an extensive bunny hunt nonetheless. Central Park has many juicy critters but apparently no rabbits which I always think is shame as I believe that a swift and stealthily agile Hound such as myself would most certainly be able to catch them.

But I digress. I was speaking about the Italian tourists and their astute observation about my perfection. I am considered such a perfect Hound in fact that there has actually been talk about cloning me. I think this is an excellent idea and I am sure I would greatly enjoy meeting these clones. But I am not sure anyone else would.

The Attack of the Wimsey Clones

Breaking News! We interrupt your regularly scheduled inane TV show to bring you this:

Wolf Blitzer: This is Wolf Blitzer reporting to you from New York City, which we understand has been overrun by gangs of large, smelly Hounds.
Anderson Cooper: That’s right Wolf. Apparently they are all clones—an experiment that has gone horribly wrong!

Wolf Blitzer: I am here with one victim. Can you tell us what happened Ma’am?

Victim: Yes, I was sitting at an outdoor café having brunch—a bagel and lox and scrambled eggs—when suddenly out of nowhere my bagel was snatched by a huge, albeit very cute, Hound whilst another one that looked exactly like it used his gigantic and very pink tongue to scoop up my scrambled eggs!

Wolf Blitzer: For those viewers not familiar with it, lox is smoked salmon, correct?
Victim: That’s right Wolf.

Wolf Blitzer: We have reports that these clones are particularly fond of salmon. Fish shops have shut down and patrons of outdoor cafes all over the city have been telling shocking tales like the one we just heard. Restaurants have barricaded their doors against these voracious marauders.

Anderson Cooper: And that’s not all. Apparently the Hounds have invaded Bloomingdales and are playing tug of war with the summer fashions! Some of them have even eaten the straw hats and swim wear and a group of these odoriferous buccaneers are reported to be headed for the lingerie department.

Wolf: That’s going to be ugly. Of course since none of the underwear has actually been worn they may give it a miss and just chew up the mannequins. But at least they’re shopping—no one else in the city is.

Anderson: Mayor Bloomberg has called an emergency meeting in what’s left of Gracie Mansion and The Times reports that the Hounds are shredding today’s edition.

Wolf: The City is in chaos Anderson! This is what working for CNN is all about! Mailmen are being jumped on at every corner and the contents of their bags eaten and the sanitation department can’t keep up with the large brown mounds that are appearing citywide—probably as a result of the restaurant invasions and the mass looting of butcher shops. Liver is apparently very lubricating. And hotels all over the city are reporting that their linens are missing. Not to mention that there is a viscous white goo everywhere! New York City hasn’t seen this much slime since they filmed Ghostbusters!

Anderson: Apparently the Mayor brought in Cesar Millan to help mediate but he took one look and had to be rushed to the hospital. He was heard to mutter something about a lack of rules boundaries and limitations.

Anderson: Very understandable Wolf. Hounds are well known for having no comprehension at all of these things.

Wolf: But what do the Hounds want? Have they issued any demands or ransom notes? Why are they doing these things Anderson?

Anderson: Well, the experts have concluded that they are just having fun. Apparently it’s a Hound thing.

Of course the cloning of me would bring up many interesting philosophical questions, such as if I were to have an evil clone would he be mild mannered and obedient? And it might solve the nature vs. nurture debate that is a regular feature of our walks: is my bad behavior the result of my genes or my humans? It’s certainly not my fault. I am perfetto. And if I were cloned we could open the law firm of Hound Hound Hound and Hound.

Receptionist: Mr. Hound, Mr. Beagle is here to see you.

Mr. Hound: He’s not my client, he’s Hound’s client! Why can’t you keep any of us straight! Anyway, I’m off to my club for a belly rub.

Receptionist: I’m sorry Mr. Hound. I do try.

Mr. Hound: Anyway, we’re nothing alike. Hound has longer whiskers and Hound’s tail is a bit more pointy and Hound has very short nails owing to all the towing he does on weekends and I am certainly more intelligent.

Receptionist: But I thought none of you were intelligent?

Hound: It’s all relative. Now let Hound know that his client is here. And by the way, what happened to my morning paper?

Receptionist: I’m afraid Mr. Hound stole it and shredded it Mr. Hound.

Mr. Hound: That abominable Hound! Just wait until he tries to find his favorite rawhide.

Receptionist Mr. Hound there is a Mr. Beagle to see you.

Mr. Hound: Ask him what he wants. I’m napping. You know if I don’t get my beauty sleep I start to look smooth.

Receptionist: But you just had a nap.

Mr. Hound: But that was on the couch. A nap on the rug is completely different.

Receptionist: Mr. Hound, Mr. Beagle says you represented his neighbor, Mr. Labrador against a charge of attempted murder of a chicken.

Mr. Hound: Indeed I did. He was found not guilty by reason of being a bird dog. Are any of the other Hounds available?

Receptionist: I’m afraid not. Mr. Hound is off to his club for a belly rub, Mr. Hound is engaged in digging up a new flower bed he found and Mr. Hound is hiding under the bed—we don’t exactly know why but I am sure it has something to do with the Chinese food that was being delivered next door.

Mr. Hound: Very well. Send Mr. Beagle in.

Mr. Beagle: Thank you for seeing me. I’m really in the dog house. I liberated an entire leg of lamb from a countertop. Apparently it was Easter dinner. I did however, leave the mint jelly; I hope that counts in my favor.

Mr. Hound: I don’t like mint jelly either. But let me get this straight. A succulent leg of lamb—medium rare I hope-- was left unattended on a countertop in the presence of a beagle?

Mr. Beagle: Yes.

Mr. Hound: And it is you who are being accused of committing a crime?

Mr. Beagle: Yes.

Mr. Hound: I think the judge will find your humans guilty by reason of insanity. Now I really must proceed with my nap, the sun only hits that spot on the rug for a few hours.

Better yet, can you imagine a show ring full of my clones—all of us pacing instead of trotting and competing to be the first to get our noses up each other’s backsides during our once around. And we could engage in synchronized stack dancing and polyphonic baying. It would be the first show ring in history where no one would win. And my humans would always be trying to figure out which one was me and which one was a clone. (Except of course the renegade one who would always come when called). And perhaps when they do the cloning they could make some improvements-- like making me even larger, louder and smellier! This is an idea that I am hoping my humans explore further.

In the meantime my share of Maria’s baking this week included a cinnamon bun that was so deliciously exciting that as I sat on the couch eating it I demonstrated my enthusiasm in the way that only a well endowed male Hound such as myself can. And it was all “Wow! That must be some cinnamon bun!’ and “Maybe we could sell the recipe to Pfizer!” But my view has always been, if you have it flaunt it. And I do (which keeps Maria pretty busy with PhotoShop’s eraser tool). And also on matters culinary I came in for my own piece of Citarella poached salmon this week as the piece Elizabeth bought for herself was too small to share. And she was especially appreciative of the clerk’s booming announcement to the rest of the shoppers “What! You’re going to feed this to the dog!” “But he’s a Hound” she whined amid the stares and promptly slunk out of the store after having quickly purchased my gourmet snack.

Anyway, it is time for our weekly visit to the Wimsey Institute of Houndish Art where we take a look at an early painting by Paul Cézanne: Portrait of Louis-August Cézanne, Father of the Artist Reading L’Événement. (Paul Cézanne, 1866, National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.). Now Paul Cézanne did not get along very well with his father. His father was a successful banker who expected his son to also be a successful banker, (Cézanne père would have approved of cloning) and as one can imagine he was not exceptionally thrilled to have a son who chose to be an artist instead. Ironically, no one knows or cares anything about the elder Cézanne but his son’s work is considered to have laid the foundation for much modern art. So much for listening to one’s parents. But like all good sons, Paul Cézanne was not above getting a little revenge on his father. In this painting the elder Cézanne looks like he is going to fall of his throne-like chair and one of Cézanne’s paintings (of which his father doubtless would not have approved) hangs on the wall behind him. And the elder Cezanne is not reading one of his boring business journals but a paper in which Cézanne’s BFF Emile Zola gave good reviews to the impressionist paintings of Cézanne’s friends. But still I think Cézanne could have done more to make his father uncomfortable. See how much more annoying it would be if there were a magnificent newspaper loving Hound also trying to read (and perhaps ultimately shred) the newspaper! Undoubtedly the Hound has begun drooling on the paper and he is a moment away from climbing onto M. Cézanne’s lap, thus banishing all hope of further perusal of the paper. I do this to Elizabeth all the time so the concept fits perfectly with the realistic style of this Cézanne’s painting. And what better revenge could there be on an uptight father than the unleashing an outsized smelly Hound into his quiet and orderly world? Portrait of Wimsey Reading L’Événement.

Well that’s all for this week. Time for some ornamental tree peeing. Until next time.


Wimsey, il houndo molto bellissimo e perfetto

Friday, April 10, 2009

Wimsey's Blog: Diary of a Manhattan Bloodhound

Entry # 114
April 10, 2009

Hello Everyone. Wimsey here, wishing you a Happy Easter from that egg rolling capital of the country-- New York City’s Upper West Side-- where scrambled eggs have been known to frequently and mysteriously roll themselves right into my slavering jaws. And lately these eggs have been accompanied by artisanal croissants, lovingly baked for me by my human Maria. Artisanal is the fancy term people use when they mean something doesn’t look or taste like it was professionally made—you know like when grandma knits you that sweater with an extra armhole. And the fact that I have been trained in an artisanal manner explains why I walk away when I am commanded to sit.

But these croissants were quite delicious as evidenced by the fact that their buttery goodness rated highly on the Wimsey Mushy Poop Scale but Maria’s friend Elizabeth claims that these croissants don’t taste like the ones in Paris. Well few things actually taste like they do in Paris which is probably a good thing, otherwise the ladies would be scooping my poop with a bucket instead of a bag. But of course if this were Paris the ladies would probably not be scooping at all:

Parisian Passerby: Sacre bleu! Your Hound has produced a veritable lake of merde!
Parisian Hound Lady: Yes, lac de merde is one of his specialties. I suppose I put too much cream in his Blanquette de Veau last night. Or maybe it was the crème brûlé he had for dessert.

Parisian Passerby: But what are you going to do about it?

Parisian Hound Lady: I suppose I will remove some of the skin from his poulet roti this evening and perhaps cut back a bit on the frites.

Parisian Passerby: But he has made a mess!

Parisian Hound Lady: Yes, he frequently does that. M onsieur should only see the state of my closet.

Parisian Passerby: I will call a gendarme!

Parisian Hound Lady: I don’t think he can fix my closet. My Dior is beyond repair to say nothing of the Chanel.

Parisian Passerby: Monsieur le Gendarme, look at the mess this Hound has made! He is a public nuisance.

M. le Gendarme: Mais oui. He is a Hound, non? But of course he is very beautiful, just like the charming lady holding his leash, which is all that really matters here in Paris.

Parisian Passerby: But aren’t you going to do something!

M. le Gendarme: Bien sûr I am going to do something. I am going to suggest to this dame charmant that she put less cream in her Hound’s sauces and feed more of the rice.

Perhaps we should all move to Paris. The French may hate Americans but they love dogs. Anyway, the irony of the whole affaire de croissant is that the fact that they don’t taste like the ones in Paris hasn’t stopped Elizabeth from eating them—although their number is such that I have been called upon to heroically donate my services to insure that they don’t go to waste.

Well this week it has been rather cool and rainy here—“April showers bring Hounds to pee on May flowers” and all that sort of thing-- but Sunday was warm and sunny so this week’s photos are in the way of being a bit of a tongue montage. And like everything else about me, it’s big. But never fear, the ladies carried two canteens of water so, contrary to appearances, I was well hydrated. We are all eagerly awaiting the day when the city turns the water fountains back on and the canteens become superfluous. At least for water. There was a proposal bruited about this week that these canteens are ideally suited for the carrying of margaritas to enliven my endless walks. Maria even proposed that every time I was bad she would take a swig but Elizabeth did not feel that this was one of her better ideas.

But we did take a little trip to the northern part of the park on Sunday because Elizabeth was under the delusion that the Conservatory Garden would be awash in Spring flowers. Sadly the garden was awash in green stalks, but we did get to take a walk along the Harlem Meer whereupon Elizabeth wondered what a meer was and why wasn’t it called Harlem Lake. Then the amazing thought struck Maria that perhaps meer means lake in Dutch. And they think I am not all that bright. But this bit of intellectual wizardry was quickly verified by use of Maria’s Blackberry Storm which appears at the drop of a hat whenever any type of question arises (Want the latest weather report in Ulan Bator and Maria will be jumping up and down shrieking “I know I know! and brandishing her phone). I also am very interested in this phone and any day now I will declare it Blackberry season. (IZf they didn’t want it to be eaten, why did they call it a Blackberry?)

But it is also tax season and apparently whilst snacking on some documents I inadvertently ate Maria’s 1099 which seems to be something that she needs. Everybody gets stressed out over tax season and the forms to be filled out seem endless and complicated, but I think there should be an additional form:

Hound Expense: Schedule H

Form H1001: Itemized schedule of emergency room and doctor’s visits, including, broken bones, sprained limbs, poked eyes, accidental bites caused by enthusiastic treat and toy taking and miscellaneous cuts and abrasions.

Form H1001a: Surgery and physical therapy for incidents detailed in form H1001

Form H1001b: Prescription drug costs for incidents detailed in form H1001

Form H1001c: Wages lost to due incidents detailed in form H1001

Form H1001d: Psychological counseling relating to incidents detailed in form H1001

Form H1001de: Psychological counseling relating to having to fill out a schedule H in the first place

Form H1002: Losses due to stolen possessions/clothing

Form H1002a: Losses due to stolen possessions/household goods and furnishings

Form H1002b: Losses due to stolen possessions/food items (including cooked and raw and items stolen whilst still in the refrigerator and from lightly defended countertops)

Form H1002c: Losses due to stolen possessions/electronics

Form H1002d: Losses due to stolen possessions/paper goods

Form H1002e: Losses due to stolen possessions miscellaneous (does not include structural damage to domicile)

Form H1003: Cleaning supply expense

Form H1003a: Painting expense for when products detailed in H1003 fail to remove drool stains from walls

Form: H1004: Hound washing expense and general odor control

Form H1004a: Damage to persons and property incurred during Hound washing activities

Form H1005: Carpet and upholstery exfoliation expense

Form H1006: Losses due to real property structural damage/walls and beams

Form H1006a: Losses due to real property structural damage/plumbing

Form H1007: Losses due to real property/landscape damage (including fences)

Form H1008: Damage to persons and property not ones own

Form H1009: Legal expense relating to losses of property not ones own

Form H1010: Legal expense relating to personal injury not ones own (includes the knocking over of minor children and/or senior citizens and the eating of toys and walking implements thereof)

H1011: Vetinary care/routine

H1011a: Veterinary care related to ingestion of foreign objects

H1011b: Veterinary care related to inadvertent injury when attempting to restrain Hound from incidents detailed in Schedule H

H1011c: Veterinary care related to inadvertent injury caused by chucking objects at your Hound in frustration

H10012: Gin expense

I mean people get deductions for children and kids don’t do nearly the damage of a well motivated Hound. I think Schedule H would make tax season a lot more entertaining and people would want to work for the IRS just to read through the Schedule H's. Perhaps people with thick schedule H’s would qualify for a supplementary hardship deduction as well as increased mental health benefits. Anyway there should be a special “My Hound Ate My Tax Documents” form that Maria could fill out. However, if the IRS guy had a Hound it might be different:

Maria: My Hound ate my 1099.

IRS Guy: He must be quite an interesting fellow! Most Hounds prefer the 1040, although I don’t want to brag but mine ate quite a lengthy Schedule D last year. It firmed up his stool wonderfully although as employee of the IRS you didn’t hear it from me. But of course we are often told to put our forms where your Hound put yours, just from the opposite direction.

Anyway, I think artisanal trained Hounds such as myself should definitely qualify our humans for some tax relief—it could be an earmark. Literally.

Well while we are on the subject of stealing food, let’s skulk on over to the Wimsey Institute of Houndish Art where we have an early Picasso on view. Le Gourmet (Pablo Picasso, 1901, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.) This painting was painted at the beginning of Picasso’s blue period and we can see that the palette is suffused with blue tones. We also note the strong, simple lines and the weightiness of form that characterize much of Picasso’s figurative work. However, Picasso left much of the foreground of the painting empty which is rather puzzling. Also puzzling is the fact that the small child, who has clearly been left unattended and in possession of food, is standing about freely eating the food. But see how much more sense the painting makes with the insertion of a magnificent gourmandizing Hound! See how the large, volumetric Hound complements the sturdy figure of the small child and how the presence of the Hound adds to the dynamic tension of the picture. We appreciate how, at any moment, the Hound is poised to snatch the next spoonful of food the second the child attempts to put it to her lips. We notice how unperturbed the child is at the possibility. Perhaps it has happened before. Two Gourmets.

OK, time for me to review Maria’s latest tax returns. I will try not to leave croissant crumbs on them although perhaps a few drool stains might impress the tax inspector with the seriousness of her case.

Until next time,

Wimsey, a taxing Hound