Friday, July 27, 2007

The Best of Me

Sit down, kids. We need to talk. I've got good news and bad news. The bad news is that the moms are going away for two whole weeks. Oddly enough, Emily Dickinson, who rarely traveled far from home, is taking them to JAPAN for a gathering of scholarly muckety-mucks in Kyoto. (The moms call it a "conference." I call it a reprehensible abdication of their parental responsibilities, but you can read about the "conference" here if you're interested.) The good news is that Roxie's World won't be lonely, dark, or silent in their absence. Heck, no! We'll show those moms we can get along just fine without them. We'll keep the party going here in our happy little corner of the blogosphere. Maybe I'll invite my new best friends Britney, Lindsay, and Paris to come in and do some guest posting on how to drive drunk, destroy property, and survive without apparently ever ingesting food.

Or maybe not. The creative division has been racking its brain to figure out how to handle this unprecedented situation. Last summer, when the moms abandoned me to go to Paris for ten days, Roxie's World was barely a toy chihuahua in the dog-blogosphere. I took a long nap. They set up a travel blog, and my Gay Stalker salivated over detailed descriptions of fine wines and French cuisine. Nobody else noticed. Things are different now, of course. I've got legions of loyal fans who count on me for regular doses of insightful commentary, uplifting rhetoric, and eye candy. Oh, right, like this:

(Photo Credit: Random Image Pulled Off Internets [Mount Fuji])

So, after careful consultation with the Department of Travel and Leisure and the Office of International Affairs, we've come up with a plan. Unlike Shrub's war planners, we've also come up with a back-up plan in case the first one doesn't work. The plan is for Moose to serve as a kind of foreign correspondent for Roxie's World. Hearkening back to her days as Ace Girl Reporter of the Cornfields, she'll send in posts and pretty pictures that may shed light on the enduring mysteries of the Orient, or -- and my money is on this possibility -- capture my moms in stunningly embarrassing situations that are likely to arise from their complete ignorance of the history, culture, language, and alphabet of the country in which they are traveling. We entertained the idea of giving Moose designer privileges here for the purposes of this assignment, but the sticklers in Legal over-ruled us, saying it could compromise my claim to being "Sole Owner and Proprietor" of Roxie's World. The Office of Persona Management had problems with it, too, arguing that readers might get confused if it seemed that the humans were suddenly taking charge of my canine universe. I'm telling you, things have gotten a lot more complicated here in Roxie's World as a consequence of our astronomical growth. In any case, Moose will write stuff, and my Aunt Isa, dog sitter and musicologist extraordinaire, will help me put it up on the blog. We'll label the material as Moose's, but I'll have complete editorial control, as always. Are we clear on that now, kids?

In the event of technological failure or in case Moose discovers she'd rather drink sake than write (which Goose would insist was a false choice), we've also assembled our first ever "Best of Roxie's World" list to assure that you have something to read if Moose fails to post or you've already finished the last Harry Potter. We might have called it "Prime Cuts" or "Top Dogs" or "Best in Show," but the moms are tired and cranky and I'm slipping into the depression I always fall into in advance of any separation, so we'll just stick with "Best of Roxie's World." If you're new to this place, you might enjoy going back to those earliest posts in the spring of 2006, when we hardly knew what a blog was. My typist couldn't even put in links, and our main interests were my precarious health and Maryland women's basketball, but the writing, in our unbiased opinion, was still good and the exuberant terrier personality was already apparent.

From the first six months of Roxie's World, we're particularly partial to:
  • "A Meditation on Time, Age, Bodies," "Queasy Does It," and "Un-Dead Like Me" are early pieces focused on love, mortality, resilience, and appetite. In this same cluster is the one and only piece ever posted here that was actually written by Moose. It's called "Transitions," and she wrote it on that terrible evening when the moms thought I wasn't going to survive my attack of pancreatitis. She thinks it is a heartbreaking work of staggering genius. I mocked it in a follow-up post called "Rumors of My Death."
  • My earliest forays into political commentary include "Terriers for Al," where I made my bold endorsement of Al Gore in the 2008 presidential race.
  • "Thunder, Near and Far" is my first sustained analysis of war and the psychology of the Bush years. "It Is What It Is" manages to connect home renovation to the authoritarianism and rhetorical violences of the Bush years. "Talking Points" shows me getting snarkier, more sophisticated about incorporating cool images, and increasingly self-conscious about being the child of two English profs.
  • Follow my meteoric rise to progressive radio superstardom in the series of posts about liberal talk diva Stephanie Miller's "War on Terriers." (She inexplicably prefers big dogs to terriers, which she considers to be "high-strung.") See also "Winning the War on Terriers" and "Enough About YOU."
By October of last year, Roxie's World was a bloggier place with well-established obsessions (politics, pop culture, and basketball) and an increasingly sophisticated sense of how images might help to enhance the thrill of being here. Some of the best bits from fall and winter include:
  • More reflections on the war, including "When You Close Your Eyes," and on the march against the war, "Send in the Twins."
  • Several pieces on the mid-term elections, including "Toast," which we like because of the hilarious image of Laura Bush we borrowed from whitehouse.org, and "Sittin' Pretty," which celebrates and analyzes the tidal wave of Democratic triumph that swept the country.
  • Some good examples of what the moms like to call "cultural studies," including a rapturous piece on their going to a Barbra Streisand concert, "On Diva Worship"; a reading of Lynne Cheney's 1981 novel, Sisters (which briefly became an issue in the mid-term elections), "Roxie's Reading: Sisters"; and a withering critique of the film Notes on a Scandal, "Notes on a Stereotype." Cheney-bashing is also the theme of a December piece on the announcement of Mary Cheney's pregnancy called "Stink Bombs."
  • Sometimes funny, sometimes sentimental slice-of-life stories that are mostly about me and the moms, including the tragicomic tale of Moose dropping her cell phone into the toilet, "Flush"; a couple of heart-warming holiday pieces, "A Dog's Thanksgiving" and "Reindeer Games"; and the sly yet profound "Dream Work."
  • We're also inordinately fond of our tribute to the late great Molly Ivins, whose death in January inspired us to come up with an official motto for Roxie's World, "What Would Molly Say?"
Writers always think their latest stuff is their best stuff, but I think it's fair to say that the spring and summer of 2007 have been pretty darn good here in Roxie's World. We're not sure how to explain the outpouring of creativity, which is, according to the English profs, a deep mystery, but we'll give some credit to the new version of Blogger, which makes it easy for even a Luddite like my typist to install widgets and other fun toys like my music box. It's hard to select the best from this prolific period, but here goes:
  • We did some of our best writing on basketball this season, as we watched our beloved Lady Terps suffer an early defeat in the NCAA tournament (see "Shoulder to Cry On") and then reflected on what it is we love so much about the game (see "Scarlet Women [Temporarily] Rule"). Don Imus's "nappy-headed hos" comment inspired three posts and brought some of the highest volume of traffic to Roxie's World ever (see "Teachable Moments," "A Moment of Pure Grace," and "After Imus").
  • In response to the April massacre at Virginia Tech, we wrote "Grief Work," a dialog between Moose and me which actually is a heartbreaking work of staggering genius if you ask me. The May death of the Rev. Jerry Falwell inspired another dialog piece, the sardonic "Welcome to Hell." "The Birthday Interview" is also a dialog in which Moose questions me on a number of important issues, including my career as a blogger.
  • Birth and death have been major themes during this period. "Martha Smith Living" is devoted to the peculiar incident of Goose's death by textual error in a major new anthology of American literature. "A Death in the Family" moves from the death of one of our fish to the winding down of The Sopranos. "A Child is Born" focuses on the birth of Mary Cheney's son Samuel.
  • We think June has been our best month ever and refuse to try to select the "best." Take a look at the archive for the whole month, and let us know what you think.
  • July has been pretty fabulous, too, but if we had to pick favorites we'd go with "Bird -- and Goose," our tribute to the late Lady Bird Johnson; "Dykes to Watch Out For," which Moose thinks is our funniest piece ever; and "Woman Enough," which focuses on Hillary Clinton's status as front-runner in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. Of course, that leaves out "Hot Stuff," a puff piece in which readers were asked to weigh in on which tennis champ is cuter, Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal. That proved to be one of our most popular pieces ever, eliciting the most comments we've ever gotten on a single post and letting us know that our fan base, though intelligent, is not too snooty to be engaged by profoundly superficial questions.
There you have it, kids. We probably haven't been selective enough, and I'm reasonably certain my typist could have organized all this better, but it's almost 11:00 on Saturday morning, even if the time stamp on this post says it's sometime Friday evening. (What can I say? My typist and I both fell asleep in the middle of a paragraph.) The moms still haven't started packing, and Moose is beginning to worry that she might not learn Japanese by the time their plane takes off shortly after noon tomorrow. (I'm thinking she might not even have figured out where her passport is by then, but that's just me.) She needs to stop typing, and I need to start pouting to make them feel guilty about leaving me. You know how that goes. Come back and see me while they're gone to see how the experiment in remote blogging from exotic foreign places goes. Come back and study this extensive archive of The Best of Roxie's World. There will be a quiz once the English profs are back in town. Come back -- because without you I'm just a tired old dog with two funny moms and a laptop. With you, as I've said before, I've got a whole world in my paws.

Peace out, beloveds, and safe travels to all of you -- but especially to my moms.

6 comments:

  1. The Way of simplicity, which Dickinson used to guide her life-path and poetry, are everywhere apparent in that photo of a Japanese rock garden on the EDIS website --

    The following is the first stanza of Emily Dickinson's poem #862 in Franklin's Varorium -- it was omitted in the standard Johnson version, but it seems to me to build a very sturdy bridge between Emily and the arts of Japan.

    "On the Bleakness of my Lot
    Bloom I strove to raise -
    Late - my Garden of a Rock
    Yielded Grape and Maize."

    I have started a blog of my own called RutgersAlumna, mostly for the purpose of having an ID to post to Roxies-World, which I hope to do more of in the autumn.

    To the moms, have a great trip to Japan!!!!!!

    RutgersAlumna

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  2. RutgersAlumna is BACK -- and she has a blog -- and a FACE!!! Delightful on all three counts. And it reminds us of another lovely bit from Dickinson:

    The face I carry with me — last —
    When I go out of Time —
    To take my Rank — by — in the West —
    That face — will just be thine —

    That Emily sure had a way with words.

    So happy to have you back in our world, RA. The moms are actually getting ready to depart, so do come back and see me.

    cheers,
    Roxie

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  3. Hi Roxie,

    I was able to save the blog to the laptop to share with my mom and she loved it, and the pic of Fuji, which she remembers very well!

    We send bon voyage to the voyagers, and love to Roxie always.

    Oh, and hugs to Osa too!

    Katie and Jean

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  4. Whoops! Sorry for the typo

    Isa! KK

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  5. Thanks Roxie,

    for your kindness, and for the Dickinson "face" poem -- I'm really a photographer not a scholar (though I love and often study scholarly things) -- so I tried to think of what face I had photographed that was in time and "out of time" and settled on a Japanese mask I saw in a storefront window in a gallery district in lower Manhattan. Photographing storefronts in New York, BTW, is totally inspired by Berenice Abbott.

    RA
    on Preview, the photo won't fit in the comments window so if it doesn't pop-up, here's the link:
    http://earlywomenmasters.net/dickinson/a_garden_tis/enigma/slides/interiors_soho_nyc.html

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  6. Dear Roxie & Legions of Loyal Fans,

    Quick note just to say that the moms survived the journey across the International Date Line. We are HERE, at the beautiful Park Hyatt in Tokyo, have been up since about 5 local time and had a long breakfast with a college friend of my sister Luanne, who gave us great travel tips. Now we're ready to head out for our first foray on the streets of this amazing city. Will try to post more later.

    Be good, Rox!

    xo,
    Moose

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