Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Have Yourself a Meta Little Christmas

I have no idea what the title to this post means. Moose dictated it to me while rolling on the floor laughing at the video of the yule log (which she and Goose watched all day long on Christmas day) running on the TV above our fireplace, where an actual fire burned all day long, even though it was pretty darn warm if you ask me, but nobody did. They were too busy laughing and cooking, which just made everything hotter.

Anyway, now they're off at the Modern Language Association convention, which is god's way of punishing all those secular humanist English profs for not believing in the baby Jesus or Santa Claus. For three days every December, when all the normal people in the world are still stuffing themselves and musing bitterly over all the things they got for Christmas that they didn't really want, god locks the professors into a huge hotel to argue about the relationships between words and things and assorted other weird ideas. Why my moms would choose to do that when they could just sit in the comfort of their own home and laugh hysterically over the relationship between real fires and pictures of fires (and pictures of pictures of fires) while making their beloved dog wear reindeer ears is beyond me, but perhaps I am missing something. I don't have a PhD, and dogs lag considerably behind humans when it comes to yakking endlessly about impenetrable mysteries.

Still, I will miss them, and I probably won't be able to do anymore blogging until the new year. Rest up, friends of Roxie's World, and if you have any deep thoughts on the relationship between words and things, by all means, please send them along.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Green Christmas

From the Family Holiday Scrapbook:

Moose, me (in reindeer tiara), and Al (as in Gore), our new PriusGoose, me, and Al

Kissing Goose in the new car!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Reindeer Games

We dogs do wonder about you humans. Don't get me wrong. We know that you love us, and lord knows we love you. You feed us and rub our tummies and talk to us in goofy voices. You pull ticks off of us and towel us off when we come in from the rain. You rub our ears and tell us your troubles, as if we were bartenders or priests, and we take your secrets with us to our graves. It's a good thing for the most part, this companion species bargain we've struck with you. But what's up with the silly holiday costumes? Come to think of it, what's up with the silly holidays? Oh, well, anything to keep the fans happy. Here's a photo of me in my Christmas get-up. Go ahead. Print it out. Put it on your fridge. You know you want to.

The truth is, my moms haven't pulled the reindeer tiara out of the Christmas box yet this year. Our house looks about as festive as Karl Rove's office on the morning of November 8. It's partly that the moms have been preoccupied with the end of the semester, but they're also kind of disgusted with the whole tawdry spectacle. For the past couple of years, when asked what she wants for Christmas, Moose has replied, "World peace and the re-building of the Gulf Coast." She means it. Moose has always considered herself a member of the club described in an interesting piece by Randy Kennedy in last Sunday's New York Times, the "Atheists Who Kind of Don’t Object to Christmas Club." She likes cookies and celebrations and trees festooned with brightly colored lights as much as the next person and has never felt that such rituals had much to do with believing in the divinity of Jesus. "O Holy Night" is one of her favorite songs, particularly the version done by Rickie Lee Jones with the Chieftans, but she doesn't believe a word of it.

Still, Moose hasn't caught even her modified version of the Christmas spirit yet this year. She'll sometimes stand in front of the house trying to figure out how to make a peace sign out of lights for the front windows. She's consulted with Goose on the subject and tried several Google searches, but the front of the house is bare. She hasn't even gotten the extensive collection of Danbury Mint ornaments her mother has given her over the years out and up on the mantle.

I think the war has got her down. And Republican meanness. She can't stand that cheesy little interview the Bushes did with People magazine, where the prez disingenuated (also ought to be a word--and Bush probably thinks it is) on the subject of Mary Cheney's pregnancy and Laura made nasty little digs about Condoleezza Rice's marital status as an impediment to any presidential ambitions she might harbor. It apparently takes a village to run for president and Condi has spent so much time tending the village idiot in the White House for the past six years that she's neglected to have a life. Or so sweet Laura implies.

On a happier note: Roxie's World has made its first appearance ever on anybody's Best of anything list! This being our very first turn into a new year in the blogosphere, we are honored indeed that our pal Damion, the Official Ex-Smoker of Roxie's World and the genuis behind Queering the Apparatus, has given us his "Political/ Sports/ Canine/ Newcomer Award." We know that competition in this category must have been exceptionally keen, and we are grateful to Damion for the faith in us this award shows and shall always endeavor to be worthy of it, though we bow humbly before the awesome example of QTA's stunning mixture of wit, queer theory, and snarky/rapturous/spot-on film commentary. Get over there now, fans. I'm going to take Moose to bed and see if she wakes up in a cheerier mood tomorrow. She better, because she and Goose are going to pick up the new Prius in the morning. Photos to follow soon!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Roxie's Pleading: Halt Hillary-Hating

We expect it from George Will, who today urges Barack Obama to go ahead and run for president in part because "he has, in Hillary Clinton, the optimal opponent. The contrast is stark: He is soothing; she is not." What he means, of course, is: He is soothing; she is shrill. He is smooth; she is calculating. He's a sweetheart; she's a bitch. George is too much of a gentleman to come right out and say all of that, but he doesn't need to. It's all palpably clear from the sexist rhetorical atmosphere he sets up in the contrast between "soothing" and its unnamed opposite. I didn't even need help from my moms the English profs to pick up on that one.

We've even gotten accustomed to it from Arianna Huffington, whose swipes at the junior senator from New York are a staple of her pontifications on Huffington Post. The swipes are so frequent and often so gratuitous that we've sometimes wondered whether the author of On Becoming Fearless isn't just a teensy bit afraid of Clinton.

Nonetheless, two years ahead of the presidential election of 2008, we here at Roxie's World are officially ticked off at all the Hillary-bashers. We are particularly put out with New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, whose catty potshots at Clinton are as predictable as the tides. Her most recent column (which you can only access through Times Select) is as saturated in misogynistic stereotypes as George Will's is, and it's merely the latest example of her relentless attacks on the woman named in the headline over her column "Hillzilla." Cute, Mo. We love it when women engage in ad feminem attacks, depicting powerful women as scary, threatening, monstrous, unfeminine ("and we know that she's not a good dancer," Mo meows), and undeserving of her success. The low point of Dowd's assault is the assertion that Clinton's only message to voters is "simply the Divine Right of Clintons." Huh? Methinks Dowd has confused the Clintons with the Bushes and thought she was writing another column about the idiot boy king.

Here's the thing, kids. We here at Roxie's World are not ardent Hillary partisans. Indeed, longtime fans will recall that I endorsed Al Gore for president back in May, while my moms continue to dither and worry and ambivalate, which may not be a word but ought to be. Poor Democrats. The point is this: We're disgusted that the Democratic race has already been framed as a smackdown between race and gender and that over and over again, from right, left, and center, Hillary Clinton is being pilloried as bitch, shrew, and harridan. As "unelectable." As "calculating." As "cold." We have a world of admiration for Senator Obama. How could we not love a man who stood up at the Democratic convention in 2004 and declared that, "We worship an awesome God in the blue states, and we don't like federal agents poking around our libraries in the red states. We coach little league in the blue states and, yes, we've got some gay friends in the red states?" Our beef is with the pundits who are scared senseless by the prospect of a serious female contender for the presidency and who reduce everything to the crudest of contests between pretty and ugly, smart and personable, "calculated" and "genuine," black and white, male and female.

My friends, it will be a glorious day for America if the Democratic party offers voters Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, John Edwards, Tom Vilsack, Bill Richardson, and Al Gore. I'll take that over an aging John McCain and a resurgent Newt Gingrich any day. Let's put 'em all out there in the public square and have a good old-fashioned debate. Spare us the smackdowns, the stereotypes, and the antediluvian resistance to powerful women. And, please, spare us Maureen Dowd working out her unfinished psychosexual business on the back of a woman who had the guts to believe that being "First Lady" was just the beginning of her extraordinary political journey.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Roxie's Reading: Unleashed

Tempting as it is to try to bring eyeballs to Roxie's World by continuing to take potshots at public figures like lesbo vice-presidential daughter Mary Cheney or by making fart jokes, I know that my fans expect more of me. I am a dog, after all, not some snarky 23-year old blogging in his boxer shorts (though my typist often works in her bathrobe, it is true). We don't go for the lowest common denominator here at Roxie's World, and we don't engage in gratuitous personal attacks. We point out hypocrisy and meanness among the privileged and the powerful and cruelty to animals whenever and wherever we see it. The only serious grudge we have is against the basketball teams of Duke University, and there we do confess to harboring deep-seated vitriolic hatred. Devoted fans know the policy of our household: If Duke were playing the Taliban, we'd root for the Taliban. Thus, we refer to any team playing Duke as the Taliban and all gather in the great room to scream "Go, Taliban, go!" anytime Duke is on TV. We can't help it. We're Maryland fans.

I digress. The point is that Roxie's World will not become a forum for bashing Mary Cheney, even though that is a lot of fun and we think she deserves it. It's hard to restrain ourselves from making holiday-themed jokes about the pregnant virgin Mary or publicly calling on Mary and her partner to consider moving to Canada, where she and Heather could legally wed and both moms could have equal legal rights to the child they are bringing into the world. (Canada wisely decided this week not to re-open the same-sex marriage question. Parliament voted down an effort to reinstate "traditional" definitions of marriage through legislation three years after Canada's supreme court ruled gays had the right to wed.) And it's really impossible to resist putting in a couple of links to Ruth Marcus's excellent column in the Post on the subject of Cheney's pregnancy and to Tom Toles's spot-on cartoon on the subject. Nonetheless, we shall restrain ourselves and not cynically endeavor to optimize our search engine placement by filling Roxie's World with hot-button keywords like Mary Cheney, lesbian motherhood, Republican sexual hypocrisy, and right-wing nuts go after veep for undermining "traditional" "family" "values."

Instead, we'll help you with your holiday shopping.

Here is a wonderful book for the dog lover and the lit critter on your shopping list. (A shout out to my Auntie Faye, the Official Radical Militant Librarian of Roxie's World and the Stephanie Miller Show, for sending me this book.) Unleashed is co-edited by Amy Hempel and Jim Shepard and is a collection of poems by writers' dogs. No, I am not among the canine versifiers included in this marvelous collection, but don't get your knickers in a wad. The book was originally published in 1995, which was several years before I started writing.

Moose and I love this book. It ranges from a hilarious parody of Sylvia Plath's "Daddy" by Jill Ciment's dog Sadie ("Every puppy loves a dominatrix / The boot on the paw, the brutess / Lick the boot of a brute like you") to a heart-wrenching series of poems by deceased dogs called "Memento Mori." Moose can't get through that section of the book without crying. Here's one by Kate Clark Spencer's dog Bell called "When I Died on My Birthday":

My heart broke for you.
I nudged your face while you called my
name over and over and
cried no until there was no sound.
You couldn't feel it.

Strange seeing your own
body lying on the grass. My
eyes were slits, my ears
black triangles. And my long legs
were tan and smooth as

polished oak. Not moving. You were
desperate, so I
gave you butterflies, the symbol
of the soul and of
rebirth. I prompted Kim to buy

a book of butterflies, gemlike,
the microscopic
photographs, you said, dazzled you.
I got Max to grab
that tablecloth her mother made
embroidered in thread
with seven butterflies. Andy
made a cloth and wood
dog you used to show me. Yes, I
knew the dog was me.

Butterlies weaved into the silk
were rust-brown like me,
and iridescent. I was in
the canyon when a
butterfly followed

you along the creek where you found
my stone. And I watched
you press your cheek against the words
you had Kris sandblast:
BELL we will discuss butterflies.

I think this poem makes Moose cry because she doesn't believe in ghosts or angels, but she knows that dog is love and that someday when I am gone my love will find her and try to make her feel better.

Moose is right. Dog is love. Don't forget that, sweet, mortal humans. Dog is love.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Stink Bombs

(Photo by Charlie Neibergall - Associated Press)

From the Department of Rank Hypocrisy: Wa Po's "Reliable Source" column reports today that lesbo vice-presidential daughter Mary Cheney is with child. Read all about it here, but don't feel surprised if you feel a little burning in the back of your throat when you do. Cheney and her partner Heather Poe are due in late spring, which means the poster girls for right-wing sexual hypocrisy dutifully kept their mouths shut until after the mid-term elections. Can't you just hear the conversation down at Darth Vader's mansion? "Mom? Dad? We lost the House and Senate anyway, and this little critter is starting to make my tailored pants feel awfully snug. Okay if we go public with the glorious news?" "What? Oh, yeah, sure. And could you give the turkey baster back to George and Laura? They'll need it for Christmas dinner." Official word from the veep's office is, of course, that "The vice president and Mrs. Cheney are looking forward with eager anticipation to the arrival of their sixth grandchild."

Just to clarify: Roxie's World is totally down with the idea of gay families and lesbian motherhood. Where, after all, would I be without them? The hypocrisy here lies in the Cheney family actively campaigning for and being a part of the only presidential administration in American history to propose to amend the Constitution of the United States to enshrine bigotry toward a class of citizens. I don't care if they lamely acknowledged their "personal" opposition to the idea. They have sold their souls to a party and an administration that have consistently exploited homophobia for political gain. Roxie's World wishes great happiness for Cheney, Poe, and the child they are privileged enough to be able to bring into the world, but we consign them to the dog house for aiding and abetting sexual and familial inequality.

From the Department of Just Plain Rank: I pass along the full text of Wa Po's report on the plane brought down yesterday by a fart. No kidding, fans. You humans just slay me. Sometimes the truth is the funniest thing of all:

A jetliner from Washington made an emergency landing Monday in Nashville after passengers smelled matches being struck, a Nashville airport spokeswoman said.

Lynne Lowrance, spokeswoman for Nashville International Airport, said that a passenger on the Dallas-bound flight, which had originated at Reagan National Airport, had been striking matches to mask evidence of a troubled digestive system.

Lowrance said the pilot of American Airlines Flight 1053 asked at 6:25 a.m. Central time to make an emergency landing in response to passengers' concerns about the matches.

Lighting matches on a plane is prohibited, Lowrance said.

After landing, the 99 passengers and five crewmembers left the plane. Luggage was placed on the ground for dogs to sniff. In one part of the cabin, searchers found signs that matches had been lit.

Under "lengthy questioning" by the FBI, the passenger "did say she had some type of medical condition" that embarrassed her, Lowrance said. "She did admit to striking matches to conceal the odor." The woman was released but was not permitted to reboard the flight, Lowrance said.

The woman, who lives in Texas, was trying to get on another flight and apparently did, Lowrance said.

The woman was not identified.
Next time, m'am, leave the matches at home and put the Gas-X in your carry-on!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Call Me Inspirational

One of the nice things about being famous is the opportunities it affords for inspiring greatness in others. I am pleased to share with you a rather striking example of the genius unleashed by Roxie's World. In the picture above, you see a sculpture of ME, Roxie, in metal, brilliantly designed and executed by my friend Aaron, one of my youngest yet most devoted fans. Aaron is six. He is the son of the Official Gay Stalker of Roxie's World and of a research scientist Moose refers to as the Man Who Will Cure Cancer, so he comes by his devotion and his genius honestly. As you can see, Aaron is a postmodern visionary, with a keen sense of irony and whimsy and no slavish devotion to the literal, however devoted he may be to yours truly. The sculpture is a sublime sequel to a painting Aaron did a year or so ago, a bold mix of oranges, purples, and greens that he called "Aaron Petting Roxie." The painting has pride of place on the front of my moms' refrigerator. Aaron's ability to produce great work in different media is reminiscent of Picasso. My moms can testify to this, because they spent a whole lot of time at the Picasso Museum in Paris this past summer. They were visiting during a wicked heat wave, and the museum was one of the coolest places in the city. (Read about their trip and their long, happy day in the Picasso Museum here.)

Aaron's touching tribute has set me to musing. I wonder what flights of fancy and fabulousness I might be unleashing in the hearts of all my adoring fans from sea to shining sea and all around the great big world. Yes, it's true, gentle readers, we have an invisible hit counter on Roxie's World, so I know you're all out there now--from Brooklyn, New York to Klamath Falls, Oregon and all the way to the Netherlands and Singapore. I know you're out there, and I love you, love you all. And I know you love me, too. Have I inspired your dogs to want blogs of their own--or wizard costumes for Halloween? Have I filled you with dreams of revolutionary change or kept you up late scribbling "Lines for Roxie" on yellow stickies that you hide under your pillow when your significant other rolls over and asks what you're doing? Are you thinking of making needlepoint images of me on pillows for all the people on your holiday gift lists? Or imagining how a velvet Roxie portrait would look on the wall of your living room?

It's okay, kids, your secrets are safe here in Roxie's World, though your IP addresses are known. If you're not inspired to dream, you might as well be dead, so go ahead: Dream on me.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

What Kind of Dog Are You?

("Speed Bump" by Dave Coverly, December 2, 2006, Washington Post)

I am definitely a toilet bowl half-full kind of dog. Visitors to our house quickly learn that toilet seats are always left UP so that I can have unfettered access to my favorite source of fresh clean water. Some humans are unaccountably horrified by this habit and by the fact that my moms cater to it, but we view it as a practical aspect of inter-species co-habitation. Dogs are thirsty animals. Humans for some strange reason have very fancy water bowls on every floor of their homes. Seat up, and these high-falutin' waste management devices do double duty. Both species are happy. All's right in Roxie's World.

Of course, I also drink out of the pond in our back yard, which is how I came to tumble into it yesterday while Goose was cleaning leaves and other autumnal detritus out of the pump. Pond-cleaning is one of my favorite household chores, because it gives me an opportunity to visit my fish (John, Paul, and George-Ringo [we used to have four fish, but one of them disappeared--either George or Ringo, but they looked a lot alike, so. . .George-Ringo]) and to supervise work that involves a high degree of messiness. While Goose hoses the gunk out of the brushes and netting in the pond, I play in the mud and walk around and around the edge of the pond looking for the ideal spot to pause for a drink. This task has gotten a little more complicated recently because the rocks around the pond have been re-arranged and the footing has gotten a bit precarious for us quadripeds. (Close readers will have noted the use of the passive voice in that last sentence. You are correct to assume that my lawn-and-garden-impaired moms were not the ones who re-arranged the rocks to look more beautiful and natural. That was done by trained specialists.) Long story short, mid-drink I lost my footing and went head-first into the pond. Fond as I am of drinking water, I am not especially fond of being in water, terriers not being among the dive-and-fetch breeds, thank heaven. I was momentarily stunned to find myself swimming with my fishes. I looked at Goose as if to say, "Help!" and she looked at me as if to say, "Well, dear, you got yourself in here, so I suggest you figure out a way to get yourself out." Which, as it turned out, is exactly what I did. She laughed, had Moose fetch a towel, and I got a brisk rub down as a reward for my efforts. And soon enough, all was again right in Roxie's World.

Speaking of water, the Post had an amazing story this morning on how the insurance industry is reckoning with the realities of climate change. More and more, insurers are refusing to insure properties near coasts, as far north as New York and New England, because they assume that hurricane seasons are likely to be as intense as last year's (the season of Katrina, Rita, and Wilma) was. Our coasts have been over-developed, making them more vulnerable to catastrophic storms, and now homes and businesses are uninsurable, making them economically vulnerable if not worthless. How smart is that, people? I bet my friend Margie over at Ecological Hope will blog on this subject soon, because she brought it up over coffee with Moose the other day before the Post story was published. (Read the Post piece here.)

Half-full or half-empty? That's up to you, fellow earthlings and friends of Roxie's World.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

A Dog's Thanksgiving

I have so much to be thankful for this year. Mostly, I am just awfully glad to still be here after my epic battles with congestive heart failure and pancreatitis earlier in the year. I am grateful to my moms for taking such good care of me--for the long trips to Bowie to see my canine cardiologist, for the many hours in the kitchen concocting good things for me to eat when my meds messed with my appetite, for their patience with my occasional incontinence and my new lower energy levels (though I will point out that our holiday weekend festivities included a 3-mile walk out on my trail). I am also grateful to YOU, my legions of friends and fans here in Roxie's World, who held me in the light during the scary moments and celebrated with me during the joyous ones. You all taught me that the blogosphere is like the "real" world in one very important way: Love makes the virtual world go 'round, too, if you're lucky enough to find it and to hold onto it once you do.

I raise my paws to every one of you and wish you health, happiness, and peace during this holiday season. May the world find more of all three in the coming days. May the citizens of the world join together to create more of all three in the coming days.

I asked my moms what they were feeling thankful for this year. They rolled their eyes, rubbed my ears, and said, at the same time, "You, silly, and your other mother." Then they said they were both grateful that Democrats would be taking over Congress in the new year, even though they are reasonably certain the Dems will find ways to disappoint them once they are in a position to actually do something again. Still, here's a short but good list of reasons to be grateful about the shift in power in the Congress, which includes the fact that Bill Frist will no longer be Senate majority leader and that George Bush will be a lame duck faced with a Democratic majority in both houses. There is much to be thankful for in those changes alone.

Moose and Goose are also very thankful that Goose wasn't seriously hurt in the accident that cut short the life of their trusty Subaru. They are still sad to have lost the rugged little wagon that could, but they are looking forward to getting a Prius for Christmas and having a car that is just a bit gentler on the planet. That's my moms for ya: Hand 'em a lemon, and they'll whip up a batch of lemonade on the spot. Goose will slip in some vodka, Moose will set out some snacks, and--presto!--it's a party, kids! Seriously, the Post ran an article this morning on the gathering, indisputable evidence of climate change and how animals, businesses, and regional planners are adjusting to it. (Read it here.) Moose read it and thought, yet again, of all the precious time that has been wasted in the past few years on the pressing problem of how to sustain life on this planet over the long haul.

On a lighter note, we are all thankful that the college basketball season is underway and that so far at least both the Maryland women's and men's teams are undefeated, while both Duke and North Carolina have already suffered losses at the hands of less highly ranked teams. (Pardon us while we indulge in a hearty shout of "nanny nanny boo boo, nanny nanny boo boo!") We're not exactly "thankful" for comedian Michael Richards' insane racist diatribe during a recent comedy performance (see part of the rant and his "apology" on Letterman here), but we do feel vindicated in never having liked Seinfeld, which always bored or annoyed us. We'd be even more grateful if, in the coming year, we would hear a whole lot less about the following profoundly uninteresting people or things: Tom Cruise, Kevin Federline, Paris Hilton (whoever she is), Brangelina, the latest makeover show, the latest "reality" show, the latest attractive young white woman to disappear under mysterious circumstances. Oh, yeah, and Donald Rumsfeld. We look forward to hearing nothing from him in a matter of moments.

Human or canine, large breed or small, shedding or non-shedding, we hope that you enjoyed a bounteous feast this weekend and that you feel rested and ready for the chilly, busy season ahead. Let us know what you're feeling thankful for, ye humble denizens of Roxie's World. We hope you need all the toes on all your paws to count your blessings and that you'll find ways to share your blessings with others. Hokey as that might sound, it's a dog-gone good way to be. Peace out, friends.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

CNN: Canine Network News

Fans of Roxie's World could be forgiven for occasionally forgetting that this is in fact a dog blog. (There are a lot of us out there in the blogosphere. Try Googling the phrase "dog blog" and see what happens.) What with all the carrying on about politics, basketball, and pop culture, not to mention the occasional usage of a phrase like "the vertigo of the signifier torn loose from the signified," you might even think that my moms the English profs occasionally do more than type for me. This possibility came to my attention recently when one of my most devoted fans (I might even call him the Official Gay Stalker of Roxie's World) said he read one of my posts and grew concerned that Moose (rather than yours truly) suffered from a seasonal skin allergy to autumn leaves. Thank you, Jason, for making me realize we might be having persona management issues here at Roxie's World.

So, let's get this straight: I am a dog. I do all the writing here. I am passionate about politics, basketball, and pop culture because I am an exceptionally intelligent dog who spends quite a bit of time on the couch beside my moms in front of our plasma TV. We have digital cable. With premium channels. Mind you, I'm not bragging or anything, just trying to explain the extraordinary range of my interests and knowledge.

Still, being a dog, I do care about dogs and dog issues. Which is why NBC4, the Washington DC affiliate of NBC, is my all-time favorite TV station. Aside from great on-air personalities (the sardonic/maternal Doreen Gentzler, the sardonic/slutty Wendy Rieger, and the new weather guy whom we call Hispanic Eddie Munster), they do a lot of great dog stories on News4. It's like Animal Planet with weather, traffic, and the occasional murder story. George Michael, head sports dude, is a major dog person, so every year he covers the glorious Westminster Dog Show (which, as my devoted fans know, has been won by Wire-Haired Fox Terriers a record thirteen times). He also stages an annual event, right there in the studio, called the Terrier Races, a hilarious and amazing event in which mostly Jack Russell terriers run around a track at warp speed. This year's race airs live tonight at 5:50 on NBC4, but you can also watch it via webstream from here. You GOTTA see this, people! It's more fun than watching the Democrats squander their moment of triumph in a petty leadership battle!

In other canine news, also featured on NBC4, there is the made-for-the-holidays story of Max, a heroic Shih Tzu, who took a bullet for a young child--and now is in need of a new owner! (See photo above.) This past Saturday night, according to News4, Max "was in the arms of a young boy when shots rang out on a Northeast corner in D.C. One man was killed and three other people were also hit in the gunfire. The 4-month-old-puppy was hit in the leg by a bullet that could have easily killed the young boy who was holding him. The child was never hurt." Unfortunately, the surgery that was needed to repair Max's injury was so expensive that his family had to put him up for adoption. (Read the full story on Max here.) The Washington Humane Society stepped in to cover the costs of the surgery and is now helping to find Max a permanent home. (You can donate to the WHS here.)

Can you resist those eyes, good-hearted citizens of Roxie's World? Can you resist the big cast, with its "Happy Holidays" message, on that tiny little leg? Can you say no to the tiniest little canine super-hero of them all--when YOU have so much to be thankful for this holiday season?

I know you can't. I know you'll do the right thing, but right now I gotta run--the Terrier Races start in less than fifteen minutes! Race ya to the couch, sports fans!

Update: Buddha scores huge upset in NBC4 Terrier Race! See awesome slideshow of incredible race HERE! Buddha, baby, you RULE! Arthur, you were a great champion, but there's a new kid on the track.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The Grrls Are BACK

(Photo by Jonathan Newton, The Washington Post)

Election season is over, and the holidays are just around the corner. Nancy Pelosi is publicly embroiling herself in a battle over who will be the new House majority leader, while Moose and Goose agonize over what vegetable side dishes to serve with Thanksgiving dinner. Are they daring enough to serve brussels sprouts to a houseful of Moose's midwestern relatives, or will they settle for some mildly updated version of green beans? Now that the legislative branch of government is safely in the hands of Democrats, you'd think the fate of the republic hangs on the answer to this single question.

To which your favorite dog blogger replies: Who cares? It's college basketball season again! Oh, joy! Oh, rapture! Oh, mighty women of the University of Maryland who snatched the national championship last year when they were barely out of diapers. We are on pins and needles in our house waiting to see what they'll do now that their secret is out and everybody in the country will be gunning for them.

Those of you who are new to Roxie's World might want to look back in the archives for our paeans to the Lady Terps and their fabulous coach, Brenda Frese, as they pounded their way through last year's NCAA Tournament. Click here, and see the posts for April 3, 5, and 6. You'll notice in the post for April 6 that I mention a sign my moms made and took to home games last year that said, "Fear the Brenda." The highlight of every game for them was the moment when their sign was flashed up on the jumbo-tron in the Comcast Center for all the world to see. Thus, you can imagine Moose's delight this morning when she caught a reference to the sign in a column by Washington Post sports writer Mike Wise. To see the column, which is a nice tribute to the faith Maryland athletic director Debbie Yow had in her young coach despite the skepticism of the "women's basketball fraternity" (is that more or less sexist than "sorority" would have been in this context, Mike?), click here. Wise refers to my moms' sign to make a point about how tightly wound Coach Frese supposedly is and to introduce never proven allegations about possible recruiting violations by Frese.

For the record, Frese's program is not under investigation for any recruiting violation (as Wise notes), and Moose is a little ticked that her admiring tribute to Frese's powers of intimidation is invoked in the context of some baseless "controversy" no doubt generated by members of the "fraternity" whose teams had been walloped by Frese's scrappy grrls. I had to sit Moose down and explain that miscontextualization happens when you put your words out there for all the world to see. Being an academic, Moose isn't used to people actually reading what she writes. She's got a lot to learn about this business of the public sphere. Fortunately, she's got a good teacher--ME!

Get on the bandwagon, kids. Click here to get tickets for Maryland Women's Basketball: The Sequel!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Sittin' Pretty

Well my soul checked out missing as I sat listening
To the hours and minutes tickin' away
Yeah, just sittin' around waitin' for my life to begin
While it was all just slippin away.
I'm tired of waitin' for tomorrow to come
Or that train to come roarin' round the bend.
I got a new suit of clothes a pretty red rose
And a woman I can call my friend

These are better days baby
Yeah there's better days shining through
These are better days baby
Better days with a girl like you
--Bruce Springsteen, "Better Days"

You know there are better days ahead, fans and fellow citizens of Roxie's World, now that a fabulous grrrl like Nancy Pelosi is going to be sittin' pretty behind poor old George W. Bush for the last two years of his spectacularly failed presidency. We hope you're still savoring the many victories of this past Tuesday and that you noticed Roxie's World was spot on in its maiden efforts at political prognostication, to wit:

  • Senator Man on Dog Rick Santorum went down hard, fast, and whining, as was noted here on Wednesday;
  • Senator Macacawitz George Allen lost in a squeaker to Jim Webb to hand Dems control of the Senate;
  • the land of Moose's birth, the Ohio River valley of southern Indiana and northern Kentucky, helped deliver the House to Dems, as three key districts in Indiana and one in Louisville flipped from Republicans to Democrats. As soon as NBC announced that Anne Northrup had lost her Louisville seat, Moose confidently declared that Democrats would take the House.
Our only mistake was to be nervous about our home state of Maryland, which, as it turned out, went from sky blue to cobalt on Tuesday. Puppy-loving, "what, me, a Republican?" Michael Steele lost by ten points (54% to 44%) to our new favorite political nerd, Ben Cardin, in the race for senator, while Baltimore mayor Martin O'Malley turned Bob Ehrlich and his incredibly annoying family out of the governor's mansion with a 7-point (53%-46%) victory. We heart O'Malley in part because he spoke passionately throughout the campaign about the importance of making higher education affordable and accessible in Maryland, but also because O'Malley is a huge fan of our beloved Bruce Springsteen. Click here to read about O'Malley's use of the Boss's music and his thoughts on citizen activism out on the campaign trail. Rock on, Gov. Let's make the Free State our own "land of hope and dreams."

Now that we've proven our mettle as prognosticators, Roxie's World has a word or two to offer by way of political analysis. How do we explain the shift in the political ground that took place in the United States on Tuesday? Here, in no particular order, are our best guesses:

  • Economic populism: The Democratic message that the Bush tax cuts have favored the wealthy and undermined the functioning of government seems finally to have gotten through to middle- and working-class voters. The Katrina debacle probably helped to make this point, but you have to give Dems credit for finally finding the nerve to say that tax cuts during times of war and other national emergencies are irresponsible. Stay tuned to see if they have the guts to roll back some of those tax cuts. (Here's a piece from The New York Times on economic populism and the new class of Democratic winners.)
  • It's the war, stupid: Another message that has gotten through is that the war in Iraq does not and never did have anything to do with "the war on terror." People are furious because the war has been mismanaged and because there is now broad acceptance that it was started on the basis of a lie.
  • Big tent beats base: Progressives have mixed feelings about all the "blue dog" Democrats who were recruited to run in conservative districts, but the strategy was clearly effective in appealing to moderate and independent voters. Moose is uneasy about this, too, and worries about Dems going all mushy in order to keep those voters, but she reminds herself that with Dems in control of both houses of Congress the leadership will be able to shape the legislative agenda so that it's less conservative from the get-go.
  • Pretty beats ugly: We think that the real brilliance of the Democratic recruiting strategy was in finding candidates who were cuter, smarter, and nicer than the troglodytes they were running against. From Bush's smirk to Cheney's scowl to Hastert's bloated cheeks to the cruel twitching of Rush Limbaugh's upper body, the Republicans just aren't doing good body language these days. They look and sound mean, vindictive, petty, cruel, arrogant, and out of control, while Dems are these smiling happy people who want government to be competent, transparent, and responsive to the needs of its citizens. What's not to love?
Let us know why YOU think Dems won. As always, Roxie's World is eager to hear from you. Meantime, kids, it's back to our happy dancing. :-)

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

I Won't Cry for You, Rick Santorum!

What a beautiful morning it is here in America! Not much time for blogging today. We stayed up late last night, and I am one sleepy but very happy political animal. Meantime, Moose and Goose are both heading off for a conference in Philadelphia tomorrow, but we couldn't resist a little gloating. We love this picture of Senator Man on Dog's concession speech, with his whining, husky children at his side. We are about as pleased as it is possible to be that the voters of Pennsylvania so soundly rejected Santorum's toxic bigotry.

Moose wanted to go downtown last night and stand outside the White House with signs saying, "America to Bush: Go F--- Yourself!" Goose poured her another glass of wine and gave her a lecture on restoring civility to political discourse.

Then, after Lincoln Chafee had gone down to defeat, Goose said, "Message to 'moderate' Republicans: Go home, get on your yachts, and examine your souls."

Roxie's World heartily recommends that you tune in to the fabulous celebration and gloat-fest going on right now on The Stephanie Miller Show. They've pulled out all the stops and their very best sound clips to herald this giant leap forward in Operation Take Back America. YippppEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!

Saturday, November 04, 2006


(Image "borrowed" from

Today is Laura Bush's sixtieth birthday. Let's put a paw in the air and TOAST her longevity, her astonishing ability to aid and abet the evils of her husband's administration with a steely smile on her face and a pack of cigs close at hand. To celebrate, we've got a special birthday greeting to the nation's most famous unemployed librarian from the ageless and evergreen First Lady of Popular Music, Ms. Barbra Streisand. Put on your dancing shoes, and click on this link.

On this Saturday before the midterm elections, Roxie's World has a few predictions to make about who'll be TOAST on Tuesday. We're not going out on a limb to suggest that we should prepare to say a heart-felt BYE-BYE to Pennsylvania Senator "Man on Dog" Rick Santorum, but we're also willing to venture that Virginia Senator "Macacawitz" George Allen will be looking for a ghost-writer to write his memoir come Wednesday morning. (Too bad Jim Webb will be too busy being a senator to take on that job, eh?) Moose is hoping Dems will pick up some House seats in her home state of Indiana, even if some of those races have tightened up considerably in the last week or so.

We're not making any predictions about Dems taking back the Senate, and we're still nervous as heck about our home state of Maryland, but we've got some helpful decorating ideas for Nancy Pelosi, assuming she's through "measuring the drapes" in the speaker's office. (Do you think they really do that? Don't you think it's likely they've got those measurements on file somewhere? Of course, after six years of iron-fisted Republican rule, such information is probably classified, and fabric shops in Georgetown are probably under strict orders not to take orders from Democrats. Forget the drapes, Nancy. Let's go with some nice wood blinds. Drapes are just filthy dust-catchers anyway, and they'd undermine your platform of clean government.)

What do you think, loyal fans? Will Tuesday be a tidal wave that sweeps Republicans out of office from coast to coast, or will it be a tempest in a teapot that fails to dislodge the smirk on Karl Rove's puffy face? Will the sleeping giant of the American middle class at long last awaken from the coma of voting against its own interests? Will the machines work? Will the votes get counted? Is there a snowball's chance in hell that the odious Virginia marriage amendment will be defeated? Roxie's World is dying to know what you think.

Oh, one more piece of TOAST on the non-political domestic front: Moose and Goose's beloved ten-year old Subaru may be on its way to automotive heaven. Goose was hit last Friday at the (dangerous) intersection of Larch and New Hampshire Avenues. Goose wasn't hurt, thank goodness, and the damage didn't seem to be that serious, but State Farm wants to declare it a total loss and give them $5700. Not bad for an old car, but Moose is sad. She's kind of sentimental about the big green wagon, which has been a reliable war-horse of a vehicle
that was great to have around back when Moose and Goose were buying (and hauling) sinks, toilets, and light fixtures on a daily basis. They've found someone who says he can fix the car for $3400, so we're planning to light a fire, crack open a bottle of wine, and try to decide whether to fix it or get the family a sweet new Prius for Christmas. Once again, fans, your opinions are welcome.

Right now, though, we need to go cheer on the Terps, who are trying to knock off #19 Clemson down in South Carolina. Go, Terps--TOAST those Tigers!

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Bring 'em ON

Bring on the ghosts and goblins who will come to the door tonight. I am ready to greet them in my beautiful wizard costume, thanks to my young friend Aaron, who made his daddies buy me this fabulous get-up last year. Normally, I object to dogs being made to dress up for the entertainment of humans, but I'm willing to make an exception in this case, because there just isn't enough cuteness in the world.

Bring on the mud and the fear-mongering and the spooky voices Republicans will use to try to terrorize voters into staying home or extending their reign of control of all three branches of government. Way down deep in the bottom of my leaky heart, I believe the American people have had enough and are looking past the smoke and mirrors. This time, turn-out will not be Mr. Rove's friend, and it won't be possible to steal enough votes to turn back the tide of change.

Bring on those old-fashioned ideas about checks and balances, transparency and accountability in government. Last week, defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld told reporters to "back off" when they dared to raise questions about Iraq. Soon, let us hope that Rumsfeld himself will be forced to "back off" from his disastrous leadership of a failed military adventure.

Most importantly, bring HOME the good men and women who have put their lives and bodies on the line for a country whose leaders have sold them out every inch of the way. Bring them home, and we will spend the rest of our lives trying to make amends and explaining how we let it happen.

Peace to you all, friends of Roxie's World, and happy Halloween.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Roxie's Reading: Sisters

Our house is full of books. That's one of the occupational hazards of having two English professors in the family. We have old books, new books, poetry books, political books, books on continental philosophy, books on home repair, books about books, books about food, books about DOGS, and lots of books about gays, lesbians, and other happy people. We also have some trashy books that have been disowned by their own authors, such as the 1981 novel, Sisters, written by super-RightWing Satan Girl and Second "Lady" of the United States, Lynne Cheney.

Cheney's frontier boddice-ripper, which traffics in incest, prostitution, near-rape, something like murder, and steamy but apparently non-sexual Sapphism, is suddenly back in the news because desperate Republicans have decided to go after Democrats not for their policies or platforms but for the parties they've attended and the novels they've written. Why not? Most Republican policies these days are woven out of fiction anyway, so why not pull a few lurid passages out of a novel and use them to tar your opponent as a misogynist who is not fit for office? It beats hell out of trying to justify your support for a useless war that has led to the deaths of more than 2800 Americans and god knows how many Iraqis. (Read about Senator George Allen's scurrilous attacks on James Webb's writings here.)

Which brings us back to Sisters. Everybody knows the Cheneys have never been as strenuously homophobic as Republicans are supposed to be, at least publicly. Their lesbian daughter, Mary, has earned them a pass in the paroxysms of gay panic that regularly (one might say strategically) seize the GOP. In the 2004 campaign, Vice President Darth Vader even acknowledged that he was opposed to a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, though he mostly kept his mouth shut as his party exploited the issue to whip its evangelical base up into a frenzy. Still, it's a little surprising to pick up Sisters and see the queen of the culture wars, who has made a career out of denouncing feminist and multicultural scholarship, celebrating female friendship as an alternative to marriage. In the book's acknowledgements, Cheney credits feminist historians Linda Gordon and Carroll Smith-Rosenberg with helping her to understand the daily, personal lives of 19th-century women and even singles out Smith-Rosenberg's famous article of 1975, "The Female World of Love and Ritual," for "guid[ing] [her] thinking."

Cheney got testy with CNN's Wolf Blitzer for bringing up Webb's response to the attacks on his work, because Webb dares to mention Sisters, Sapphistry, and Cheney's 1988 novel, The Body Politic, which features a Republican vice president who dies of a heart attack while having sex with his mistress. (You can see an excerpt from the interview with Blitzer here.) According to the indignant Mrs. Cheney, the difference between being American Grandmother of the Year (her) and Left-Wing Moonbat Sex Perv of the Century (Webb) is the difference between being sexually implicit (about rape, incest, and lesbianism) and being sexually explicit. As she puts it to Blitzer:

Jim Webb is full of baloney. I have never written anything sexually explicit. His novels are full of sexual (sic) explicit references to incest, sexually explicit references -- well, you know, I just don't want my grandchildren to turn on the television set.
Per usual, fans of Roxie's World, we want you to judge for yourselves. You can check out a pdf version of Sisters here. Or, if you want to stay right where you are, here's one of our favorite Sapphic morsels from Sisters. Most of the Sapphistry in the novel occurs off-stage and retrospectively. The protagonist, Sophie Dymond (nice touch with the allegorical naming, Lynne!), discovers that her late sister, Helen (married, with children), has had a passionate friendship with the schoolteacher, Amy Travers. Sophie comes across a parcel of letters from Amy to Helen. Among them is this seductive invitation:

Let us go away together, away from the anger and imperatives of men. We shall find ourselves a secluded bower where they dare not venture. There will be only the two of us, and we shall linger through long afternoons of sweet retirement. In the evenings I shall read to you while you work your cross-stitch in the firelight. And then we shall go to bed, our bed, my dearest girl. . . .
The letters repeatedly invoke the Ladies of Langollen, common 19th-century signifiers of women's romantic friendships, as Cheney no doubt learned from her reading in Smith-Rosenberg. Technically, of course, Cheney is correct that she stays on the "right" side of the line between implicit and explicit depictions of sexuality, but one wonders if foaming-at-the-mouth homophobes will be satisfied with Cheney's insistence that there's nothing sexual in this fantasy of 24/7 girl-on-girl intimacy. I mean, heck, cross-stitching involves needles, doesn't it, and that's clearly some tawdry allusion to a sexual apparatus. Then there's that "bed, our bed, my dearest girl. . . ." (ellipses in original).

It's a tricky business, Mrs. Cheney, pinning down the line between the implicit and the explicit, the erotic but non-sexual and full-on genital action. We here at Roxie's World think that if you can't stand the heat you'd better stay out of the boudoir. Lesbianism ain't for sissies, "sister."

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Diva Citizens

Check out these sexy public service announcements aimed at getting women to vote. They're put out by an organization Moose and I have never heard of called Women's Voices, Women Vote. It's a non-partisan group, so the feminism of the commercials is so "lite" that it's hard to tell exactly why the organization is interested in mobilizing women to get to the polls. One of the speakers is actress Angie Harmon, a socially conservative Republican who gave a speech at the 2004 Republican convention. Like progressive radio goddess Stephanie Miller, Harmon also has a unibrow. Anyway, another of the speakers is Felicity Huffman, who was an object of reverence in our household long before her astonishing performance in Transamerica last year. It's not likely that Harmon and Huffman and the still kick-ass Tyne Daly (who is also featured in the ads) would all vote the same way on any candidate or issue, but we'll put our paws together here at Roxie's World for any effort to get the estrogen set to the polls. For every gun-loving "security mom," there are at least a dozen intelligent women who think it's time to end a senseless war and start focusing on creating the conditions that will make lasting peace possible, here in the US and throughout the world. Angie will be out-voted, so we join her in saying, "Get thee to the polls, Women!"

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Pity Party

Pity poor Barney, held hostage by the "leader" of the "free" world and his highly medicated wife. (Don't you think Bush looks fat in this picture? Moose and I do. We bet there's a cooler full of beer hidden somewhere in the Oval Office and the "Decider" has been the "Imbiber" lately.)

Pity poor Moose, who has a bad cold and a head that feels like the back wheels of a fully loaded semi have been rolling back and forth across it for the past twenty four hours.

Pity poor ME, because I've got my annual skin allergy to autumn leaves, which means that I've spent an inordinate amount of time licking myself lately rather than blogging. This, I realize, is a huge disappointment to my legions of fans, but bear with us. Y'all should be out knocking on doors for progressive candidates anyway. (Or, if, like Moose, you don't feel like leaving the house this weekend, volunteer for Move On's Call for Change program.)

Pity both me and Moose, who have been without the company of our beloved Goose for almost an entire week! She has been in Texas visiting family and attending a conference, while we have been here sniffing and licking and tinkling on the rugs and eating take-out food and hoping that none of the technology in the household breaks down. We are lonely as clouds and eagerly awaiting her return tomorrow. We took a vote and have decided to revoke her travel privileges, unless, of course, she takes us with her next time to some canine-friendly destination.

And speaking of canine-friendly, here's a wonderful story about the incredible new animal shelter that has just been built by the Washington Animal Rescue League. The idea behind it is that a posh, peaceful environment will help animals recover from trauma and abuse and make them less aggressive, more relaxed, and therefore more adoptable. I am pleased to give the Rescue League a Five-Paw Rating and a Roxie's World Seal of Approval for smart, compassionate plan that is likely to result in healthier animals finding the loving homes they deserve. Hip-hip-HOORAY!

Okay, Moose says it's time to stop typing and get horizontal. The semi is starting to roll over her head again. Ouch!

P.S. Need a little more inspiration for ending the "pity party" of liberal politics in the US? Read this powerful piece by Kevin Tillman, brother of NFL star Pat Tillman, who was killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan in 2004. Kevin calls on fellow citizens to honor Pat by voting for change on November 7--the day after his late brother's birthday. (With thanks to Auntie Faye for pointing out this moving call to action.)

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Gut Check

How ya doin', Dems? Acid reflux churning up in the back of your throat? Election Day is just twenty days away. Polls continue to show that the chickens may at last be coming home to roost for Republican incumbents who ruled like kings and tried to score cheap political points through lies, fear-mongering, and irresponsible tax-cutting. Looks like Senator "Man on Dog" Rick Santorum is going down big in Pennsylvania. He's down by at least five points in every recent poll. Moose woke up this morning to a headline in the Washington Post declaring that "Elections May Leave Bush an Early Lame Duck." She smiled at me before she even took her first sip of coffee and said, "Rox, it's going to be a great day." And Moose is not a morning person. The story was full of such delectable details as, "On desks around the West Wing sit digital clocks counting down the days and hours left in the Bush presidency, reminders to the White House staff to use the time left as effectively as possible." The funny thing is we have one of those clocks in our house, too! We use it to count the days to the end of one of the most destructive presidencies in American history. We also have a bumper sticker on the fridge that says "01.20.09--Bush's Last Day." Maybe we should send a carton or two of those down to the White House for Josh Bolten to pass out to all those clock-watching staffers.

Don't worry, kids, we are not getting over-confident here at Roxie's World. Goose is still convinced the Republicans will find a way to steal the election if they can't manage to win it. Moose is still a little uneasy about the senate race in Maryland, though she was pleased to see that puppy-loving Republican Michael Steele is so desperate to garner votes in the African-American community that he accused Rep. Steny Hoyer of being a racist for saying that Steele "had a career of slavishly supporting the Republican party." I am not making this up, folks. Read about it here. Steele would love to spin this into some kind of "macaca" moment, and Democrats, in their usual obliging way, have already played into that by sending Hoyer out to offer a dutiful apology, but give me a break. Steele's opponent didn't make the allegedly racially insensitive remark, and it's also perfectly obvious in any case that Hoyer intended the secondary meaning of "slavish" (showing no originality; blindly imitative). And, yes, my moms the English professors have taught me all about how intended meanings might not matter as much as the unintended or implied ones, particularly in communicative contexts charged by racial difference. Still, Michael Steele has consistently toed the Republican party line, and this latest manufactured outrage fits into his pattern of trying to position himself as a racial victim in an effort to make himself in effect "more black"--perhaps to distract voters from his class privilege and the ways in which he has benefited from his connections to (mostly white and often insidiously racist) Republicans.

Oops. Did I just rant? Dogs don't rant, do they? Well, maybe a rant is the rhetorical equivalent of sinking one's teeth into a nice juicy bone, so I guess it's okay.

Anyway, rest assured we are not taking anything for granted here at Roxie's World. I know a lot of my devoted fans live in Maryland, where voting on primary day was an absolute chaos, thanks to massive confusion about how to operate the state's new Diebold touch-screen, no-paper-trail machines. For those of you who are worried about the chaos and the uncertainty of the new system, here is where you go to apply for an absentee ballot. You don't need to have a reason to vote absentee, but you do need to apply for a ballot by October 31.

Moose has taken to feeding her election obsession by cruising for polls on a daily (nightly, hourly) basis. Here are some of her favorites:

Rasmussen is a polling company, but a lot of information is available for free on the site. Electoral Vote was set up in 2004 to track electoral votes state by state. The guy who runs it owns up to being a Democrat, but he's also a smart statistician and he only tracks non-partisan polls. Real Clear Politics offers averages of major polls. It's a very deep site that also has a blog and pulls together news and political commentary from all sides.

Happy surfing, kids. Keep the Maalox at hand and the champagne on ice. Fight the good fight, and then, dammit, have a party!

Saturday, October 14, 2006

On Diva Worship

Friday nights are special at our house. Usually, my moms make drinks, and we all curl up on the couch and watch Mark Shields and David Brooks rehash the week in politics on The News Hour. They’ll scratch my neck, rub my ears, and shriek at David Brooks’ lame attempts to justify the latest Republican outrage. Moose will do one of her hilarious imitations of moderator Jim Lehrer interrupting the discussion to ask for clarification of some perfectly obvious point. “When you say that the sun will come up tomorrow,” Moose intones, “you are referring to the large orange object in the sky that appears every morning, correct?” Then we all crack up, and Goose tops off the drinks. It’s a perfect way to spend an evening, in my humble opinion.

Last night was different, though. Last night I had the couch all to myself, as Moose and Goose raced downtown for an early dinner and the big Barbra Streisand concert at the arena formerly known as the MCI Center. Goose bought the tickets, which were obscenely expensive (though most of the money, according to Barbra, is going to very politically correct charities) to indulge Moose in her lifelong admiration for the funny girl with the big voice. That generosity is one of the things we love most about our Goose. She is something of a Streisand fan herself, but she bought the tickets mostly for the pleasure of looking over in the dark and seeing her own funny girl mouthing the words and dancing in her seat with misty eyes. She bought them knowing that at some point during the show Moose would reach for her hand in the dark and give it a squeeze, to thank her for making her one of “the luckiest people in the world.”

Diva worship makes us sentimental, doesn’t it? Or maybe diva worship is all about sentimentality: a potent mixture of desire, nostalgia, identification, and the pure seduction of a big voice that can make every lullaby sound like a Broadway show-stopper—and vice versa. Is that bad? Moose doesn’t think so. She’s been a fan of show tunes and the women who belt them out since she was a little kid watching her parents perform in amateur productions of Little Mary Sunshine, The Fantasticks, and Carousel. As a child of the early 60s, she knew all of the Beatles songs by heart, but she spent at least as much time pretending to be Debbie Reynolds in The Unsinkable Molly Brown and Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music as she did stroking an air guitar and wishing she were John, Paul, George, or Ringo. (Well, she never actually wanted to be Ringo. Back then, he was the dorky Beatle.) The highlight of her older sister’s childhood was getting to go to a Beatles concert, but Moose went to see the film version of Funny Girl with her mom and dad and thought she had glimpsed true genius. (It’s important to note that she was nine years old at the time. Her parents probably took her to the Blue Boar Cafeteria in Louisville before the movie. Then, Moose thought the Blue Boar was the height of culinary achievement, so it's possible that her sense of judgment was not particularly refined at this point. Still, the Blue Boar did put out a fine mac and cheese.)

Moose called her mother at intermission to say that she (Moose) could die happy, having just heard Barbra sing “People” live and in person. She felt a goose bump or two during “The Way We Were,” one of her late father’s favorite songs. One of his many excellent song parodies began with a long, poignant “ma-m-m-m-m-m-aries may be beautiful and yet. . . ."

My moms were on cloud 9 when they got home from the show last night. They marveled that Streisand’s voice is still in excellent shape—sultry in the lower range and pure as a bell in the higher. They were pleased that she looks gorgeous and is confident enough to look her age. No starvation diets or plastic surgeries for this sexy sixty-four year old! She even did a funny recurring bit about her appetite in which she talked about stopping off at several well-known Washington restaurants to eat on her way to the National Gallery, which she wound up not reaching because she had to get back to the theater for her pre-performance dinner. Ha-ha. Moose admires a woman with the guts to acknowledge a hearty appetite.

My solitary Friday night left me to wonder: Is lesbian diva worship the same as gay male diva worship, a camp tradition long acknowledged and widely studied? And what does it mean when two middle-aged dykes indulge in worship of a cult figure usually associated with gay men? This isn’t the first time my moms have crossed over into what might be considered gay male terrain. Goose has had a thing for Dolly Parton for years, and Moose used to love a good drag show—and this was long before the days of drag king shows, mind you. Moose and Goose were by no means the only sisters of Sappho in the crowd to see Barbara last night, so perhaps this phenomenon is more widespread than one might think.

Or perhaps it is the nature and the magic of the diva to activate desires across all the silly little boundaries humans have set up around sex and gender identities, orientations, and expressions. Perhaps the diva commands us to see that every girl and every boy is at least a little bit “funny.” And perhaps we like having to see it.

Strike up the band!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

When You Close Your Eyes

Tonight in your bed, all safe, warm, and snuggly, with your loyal dog(s) or cat(s) or ferret(s) curled up at your feet, close your eyes and try to imagine. . .the 655,000 Iraqis who have died since the US invasion in 2003 who would not have died otherwise. This is according to a new estimate by a team of American and Iraqi epidemiologists. Try to wrap your mind around that number, a number that surpasses previous estimates by hundreds of thousands. (Read the Washington Post story on the report here.)



I am a dog, not a mathematician, so I can't debate the method by which the epidemiologists arrived at their numbers. My moms the English profs aren't much better at that sort of thing than I am, but still. . .655,000. . .people. . .dead who would not have died if we could have prevented the government of the United States from waging an unprovoked war against a country that did not have weapons of mass destruction, did not aid or abet the 9/11 attacks, and had been contained from attacking its neighbors for more than a decade.

Guilt is in a dog's emotional repertoire. When I've done something bad, I avoid looking my moms in the eyes or I walk in a big circle to stay away from the spot where I tinkled on the floor. And sometimes in my sleep, I'll tremble or make little woofing noises that make my moms think I am having a bad dream. Canine guilt doesn't penetrate that deeply, though. Usually when I'm restless in bed, I either have gas or am picturing myself racing along my trail on a glorious morning when the air is crisp and the leaves are a riot of fall color.

Which is a good thing, because otherwise tonight I might lie in bed and feel haunted by the faces of 655,000 dead strangers who were killed in my name. I might lie awake and stare at my hands and wonder how I will ever get rid of the blood. I might stare at the ceiling for hours and force myself to imagine one--just one--of the 655,000. She had a name, a home, foods she loved, friends who loved her, a set of beliefs, a set of skills, a family, a favorite thing, a pet peeve--or maybe a pet--and I bet she had one useless object she thought was beautiful whether anyone else did or not.

And now she is gone, because the United States of America lit a torch that turned her country into the very fires of Hell.

I am so glad that when I close my eyes tonight I will not have to see her eyes, but what will you see, my poor, sweet, guilty, human, American friend? What will you see--or try desperately not to see--when you close your eyes tonight?

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Roxie's Reading: Chester

Okay, fans, we've got something new for you here in Roxie's World today. I know that blog afficionadoes crave novelty, as your restless fingers click from one thing to another quicker than a hungry dog racing from the couch to his supper bowl on steak night. To satisfy your craving, I am offering the first in a series of book reviews, my unique take on literary works related to dogs, dog owners, dog-human love, and a dog's eye view of the world. It is the next logical step in the evolution of my role as cultural maven. My moms the English profs thought it was high time I showed off my book-learning (and my Aunt Faye, the radical militant librarian from Tulsa, has greatly enhanced my collection of Dog Lit recently!), so here we go. First up is a book for young readers that has gotten a lot of attention on The Stephanie Miller Show, because it was written by Stephanie's best friend and is all about Stephanie's late Saint Bernard Chester, who died suddenly in April. (See my heart-breaking memorial tribute to Chester here.) The book is called Chester, the Water-Loving, Pool-Hopping, Salad-Eating, St Bernard Dog, and it's written by Leslie Rockitter. (You can read about the book and purchase it here.) Chester is the heart-warming story of the relationship between a St Bernard pup and a young girl named Allyson, who falls in love with the blue-eyed pup and takes him home despite the fact that her family already has two HUGE dogs (Puffy, a Great Pyrenees, and PooBear, a Newfoundland) and a new baby (Allyson's sister Emily). Allyson's parents miraculously agree to let her keep the latest addition to the family, after half-heartedly opposing the idea and getting Allyson to promise to clean up after the dog and do extra chores. The rest of the story is devoted to Chester's efforts to establish his place in the pack with the pretentious Puffy and the dim-witted PooBear. The book's title telegraphs the story's major plot elements, which involve Chester's fondness for vegetables, his prodigious thirst, and a couple of accidental tumbles into swimming pools. Slowly but surely, he earns not just his place in the pack but in everybody's heart, even that of snooty alpha-dog Puffy.

I give this book Four Paws (out of a possible five) for its sweet story and adorable illustrations. Chester is a fully believable young pup, and Allyson is a plucky girl willing to fight for her heart's desires. We all know how important it is to fight for the creatures and things you love--whether it's a puppy or a friend or a political ideal (such as peace or justice or equality for families). My only criticism of Chester is that it exhibits the unfortunate bias toward large breeds that I have noted in progressive radio goddess Stephanie Miller. Fans of Roxie's World know that I have worked closely with Ms. Miller to address this bigotry, particularly since I assumed my role as Official Dog Blogger to The Stephanie Miller Show. We have made progress in opening Ms. Miller's eyes to the virtues of dogs who don't leave mounds of hair and large buckets of drool behind them. She realizes now that terms like "high-strung" have no place in the vocabularly of a fighter for democratic values and that terms like "busy" and "trembling with the desire for a better world" should replace such stigmatizing language. Chester was written before I had a chance to point out to Ms. Miller the errors in her thinking. Here's hoping a second edition of the book will feature an encounter between Chester and a smart, sleek terrier who might suggest, in a mild British accent, that the next time he is thirsty he should demand that Allyson put out some water in an elegant Waterford bowl, which would be so much more dignified than diving into a swimming pool for a drink.

In the meantime, I am pleased to give Chester Four Paws and a Roxie's World Seal of Approval. Buy it! Read it! Give it to a young reader who loves a dog, wants a dog, or believes that love is a lick on the face that makes everything better.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

The Dog Wags

I love this Mike Luckovich cartoon. I love the suggestion that even the family pets are abandoning Bush and his maniacal commitment to failed policies. I'm especially pleased, as I'm sure all fans of Roxie's World are, that the cartoon shows a brave little terrier out in the yard by himself carefully crafting the message his stubborn master refuses to see or hear. I like to think that Barney would be my ally in the War on Terriers. He and I have a lot in common, after all. We're both highly photogenic political animals, and we both have a tendency to make some of our letters backwards, no matter how carefully we write. (That's why blogging is such a good medium for me. When Moose types for me, the letters usually come out in the right order and direction. Usually.)

Anyway, I just wanted to share a funny image with my legions of loyal fans. I know a lot of you are worried about the upcoming mid-term elections. You are Democrats, and so you are accustomed to watching your party steal defeat from the jaws of victory. Nonetheless, friends, I think there is cause for optimism, if not for irrational exuberance. Polls are trending our way all over the country, and the Republicans are falling all over themselves in an orgy of ex-Foley-ation that shows no signs of abating any time soon. My moms and I think it's hilarious that the party that has sought to enshrine homophobia into the Constitution of the United States is now trying to claim that sensitivity to gay feelings hindered their efforts to control the behavior of a congressman who couldn't keep his hands off his "send" button. We think Congressman Foley should have heeded the advice of Harry Truman: "If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog."

For those in need of an encouraging political word, here's a piece by pollster James Zogby on the October surprises that are, so far at least, spelling good news for Dems. Plus, here's a spot-on commentary on ex-Foley-ation by feminist genius Katha Pollitt. We heart Katha big-time in our household.

Keep the faith, my friends, and if you're worried about how the election is going, then get up off your chair and go do something. Democracy is not a spectator sport.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Political Puppet?

You decide, Friends of Roxie's World. Here's Michael Steele's second puppy ad. And here's a story that helpfully points out that Steele neglects to mention in these ads both that he is a Republican and that he currently serves as lieutenant governor of Maryland. (Wouldn't want to confuse the voters, after all, by disclosing the fact that, puppy lover or not, the dude is a [right-wing] political animal.)

My moms and I think it's a DUMB ad that doesn't very effectively address the valid questions about substance and the issues that Democrats sensibly raised in response to the first super-slick puppy ad that got everybody talking about Steele's brilliant marketing strategy. My very observant brother Geoffrey, though, proposes that the ad is duplicitous as well as dumb. He thinks the puppy in this ad is a puppet. (See his comment on my previous post.) That, my loyal fans, would take the War on Terriers to a new low, in my humble opinion. I mean, really, you're gonna hide behind a poor, innocent dog, and you don't even have the guts to use a real dog as your cynical prop? This old dog's head positively spins at the idea. My moms the English profs call that the vertigo of the signifier torn loose from the signified, but I just think it's creepy. (My moms are so weird.)

Anyway, the good news is that the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is on the air in Maryland with a fairly clever response to Steele's faux-paw campaign. We haven't been able to find it yet out on the internets, but when we do we'll let you know. Meantime, kids, please weigh in on the great Puppy or Puppet question.

Oh, and Friday is the birthday of progressive talk goddess Stephanie Miller. Momma, your Official Dog Blogger sends you another full-body lick and the hope that you might have all the boxed wine you want on this your "thirty-fifth" birthday. :-)