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. :-)

Monday, September 25, 2006

Save This Puppy!

Uh-oh, Friends of Roxie's World. It appears that a new front has opened up in the War on Terriers. Look at how this adorable Boston Terrier is being exploited in a new campaign ad by Maryland's stealth Republican senate candidate, Michael Steele. Steele's ads are clever--light as air, but effective at marketing him as charming and cool, aimed at inoculating him against negative attacks by positioning him as friendly and above the fray.

Fine, Mr. Steele, go ahead and offer yourself up as a pretty piece of non-partisan eye-candy (while relying on big-name Republicans [Bush, Cheney, and Rove] to raise money for you). But if you drag a TERRIER into your slippery business, you risk raising the ire of my legions of fans, who know cruelty to animals and other living things when they see it. Mr. Steele, terriers have no interest in being props in your vapid, slick campaign. Rather than being held in your lap, we'd rather be nipping at your heels or madly barking out the truth about you:

  • your lack of real experience in government (being lieutenant governor of Maryland barely counts as a job, much less as experience in government);
  • your far-right positions on reproductive freedom and stem-cell research;
  • your cynical attempts to conceal your party affiliation in a proud blue state where Democrats outnumber Republicans two to one.
Be a man, Mr. Steele. Let this puppy go, and have the guts to stand on your own--as what you really are.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Enough About YOU

My meteoric rise to fame continues, and my hard work as Official Dog Blogger to The Stephanie Miller Show has just begun. Below is the full text of an e-mail I wrote to Steph late last week. It was the very first item featured on Friday's show! The subject line was, "Roxie to Steph: I am NOT a Rat Terrier." She read most of the message, though for some strange reason she left out the fart joke about Karl Rove and Karen Hughes, which Moose and I thought was the funniest line in the whole message. It also would have been an excellent opportunity to use the heavy footsteps sound clip that producer Chris Lavoie uses whenever husky-gal Karen Hughes is mentioned. Well, fans, time is precious in radio. We'll have to get used to being edited to accommodate all those cheesy commercials they run on AM radio, but here in Roxie's World, you get to see me uncut!

Here is my e-mail:

Dear Ms. Miller,

First of all, let me express my gratitude to you for publicly naming my blog "Roxie's World" the "Official Dog Blog of The Stephanie Miller Show." Words cannot express how humbled and thrilled I am by the honor of having an official relationship with a nationally syndicated radio program dedicated to saving the world through fart jokes. If I were a California dog, I would come right to your studio to express my gratitude with a full-body terrier lick--from the bottoms of your big feet to the top of your uni-brow. I look forward to assuming my duties alongside the other "official" persons connected to your show: Faye, the official radical militant librarian from Tulsa; Susan, your new official Jew; the long line of your future husbands; and, of course, John Conyers and Barbara Boxer, the patron and matron saints of The Stephanie Miller Show.

Speaking of farts: Like many dogs, I am an accomplished farter. In fact, as I've gotten older, my moms say my farts are as stinky as Karl Rove and Karen Hughes battling to push their way to the front of the buffet line, but I digress.

My first task as official dog blogger to The Stephanie Miller Show will have to be an educational one. Stephanie, when you read from my message the other day, you referred to me several times as a "rat terrier." I know this is hard for you big-dog people to understand, because a Saint Bernard is a Saint Bernard. Terriers, on the other hand, are a large and varied group of dogs. We come in more than two dozen breeds, and each breed has unique qualities and characteristics. I am a wire-haired fox terrier, a breed that has won Best in Show at the famous Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show thirteen times--more than any other breed! The poor "rat terrier," by contrast, has just recently been recognized by the AKC as a registered breed. To class me with them is to misread me as badly as George Bush misreads his speeches or as George Tenent misread the pre-war intelligence on Iraq. Please, Stephie, I am only now recovering from the wounds of your unkind description of terriers as "small" and "high-strung." You and I have come so far in our efforts to end the War on Terriers. We have followed the road map to peace and found that freedom is on the march. Please don't halt our march mid-lockstep. If we are to be partners in peace, you must look in my big brown canine eyes and call me what I am: a wire-haired fox terrier with way too much time on my hands.

Yours in gastro-intestinal distress,

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Beautiful People

In loving memory of Governor Ann Richards (1933-2006) and for my Goose, my favorite Beautiful Person who is also a Texan. (Photo by Bobby Earl Smith, taken at a reception at the governor's mansion in Austin, 1993.)

Wednesday, September 20, 2006


NEWS FLASH: Roxie's World Named "Official Dog Blog of The Stephanie Miller Show." Stephie said so Herself at the top of the third hour of this morning's show!

Moose and I were spending a morning at home together and so heard it live. We danced around the great room as Steph read at length from an e-mail I had sent her officially accepting her surrender in the War on Terriers. She turned to me and said, "So, Rox, how does it feel to be famous?" I could barely conceal my contempt. "Mom," I replied, "I have always been famous. It's just that now everybody knows it." "Okie-dokie," she countered, "but I'm still the one who can trick you into taking your heart meds by wrapping them in liverwurst." She had me there. I am inordinately fond of liverwurst.

More soon, loyal fans. I just wanted to get the good news out. I have a lot of work to do as I take on the responsibilities of a public role in connection with a nationally syndicated radio program dedicated to saving the world through fart jokes. I'll have to start by giving Ms. Stephanie Miller a thorough education in the varieties of terriers. Today she referred to me as a "rat terrier." I know. I was shocked, too. I, Roxie Smith-Lindemann, AKC registered wire-haired fox, publicly introduced as a "rat terrier." The ink isn't even dry on the papers making them an AKC breed! Boy, do I have my work cut out for me.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Winning the War on Terriers

First, I have to apologize to my legions of loyal fans. Roxie's World has been quiet in the last couple of weeks because Moose has been too busy to type for me. She periodically stumbles in the front door to rant and rave about the start of a new semester, but Goose and I haven't seen much of her lately. She seems pretty stressed. Meantime, I am violating Rule #1 of the Blogosphere: Publish regular updates so that your fans won't drift away. I'm here! Don't leave me! It's Moose's fault!

On the other hand, obsessive listeners of The Stephanie Miller Show know that I haven't just been napping or rolling in scat lately. Far from it! I've been getting FAMOUS, and I've won an important victory in the War on Terriers. Fans will recall that in my post of August 31 I chastised progressive talk goddess and dog lover Stephanie Miller for insulting remarks she made about terriers during one of her shows. I won't go over it again because it's too painful, though I will note that it involved the words "small" and "high-strung."

Anyway, my aunt Faye, official radical militant librarian to The Stephanie Miller Show, forwarded the post to Steph and let her know that I and terriers everywhere were not amused by her vicious trafficking in stereotypes and misinformation. On our behalf, Faye demanded an apology. She cleverly suggested that we might forgive Steph if she agreed to mention Roxie's World on the air. Well, folks, I am pleased to report that this past Tuesday (September 12), at the start of the show's third hour, Ms. Stephanie Miller did publicly and sincerely apologize to me and all my terrier friends. She waved a big white flag in the War on Terriers. Plus, she not only mentioned my blog address on the air, she read extensively from the War on Terriers post, totally cracking up executive producer Chris Lavoie with the line about terriers not being high-strung but "just busier than other creatures."

Goose heard it live while she was out doing errands and nearly ran the car off the road when she heard Stephanie mention Roxie's World. Moose missed it. She was snarfing down a bagel in the middle of a busy morning in College Park. Poor, frantic humans.

I would upload an MP3 file of the whole exchange, but that is both illegal and, as far as Moose and I are concerned, impossible to do on Blogger, given our limited technical skills. We suggest that you all subscribe to the podcast of The Stephanie Miller Show, and then you can access it through the archives. Now that Stephanie has surrendered in the War on Terriers, we are proud to re-assume our role as shameless pluggers of her fabulous show. She plugged us. We plug her. That, my humble friends, is how the cycle of fame works.

Terriers, of course, are accustomed to fame, so you needn't worry that this brush with celebrity will go to my head. Naturally, my favorite famous terrier is Asta, the wire-haired fox from The Thin Man movies, but Toto from The Wizard of Oz was a Cairn terrier and Eddie on the TV show Frasier was a Jack Russell. Then there's FDR's famous Scottie, Fala. George Bush has a Scottie, too, but that's just part of his pathetic attempt to imitate strong presidents so it doesn't count. Here's an (incomplete) list of famous terriers for those of you who might wish to enhance your canine cultural literacy (and if you're reading this, surely you must want to do that). We're hoping Ms. Stephanie Miller will take a look at this impressive list the next time she's tempted to disrespect our noble group of breeds.

Sunday, September 03, 2006


"Flush" is the name of the delightful little novel Virginia Woolf wrote in 1933 about Elizabeth Barrett Browning's cocker spaniel. Moose and I read it together this summer as part of our ongoing exploration of the literature of human-canine relationships. As one might expect, Woolf writes with piercing insight of the empathy between dog and person, but I was especially impressed with her extraordinary perceptiveness about Flush's sense of smell, which is a hard thing for humans to understand. Here is Woolf's description of Flush as a young pup (before he has gone to live with Barrett Browning) taking a walk with his mistress in a country field:

What a variety of smells interwoven in subtlest combination thrilled his nostrils; strong smells of earth, sweet smells of flowers; nameless smells of leaf and bramble; sour smells as they crossed the road; pungent smells as they entered bean-fields. But suddenly down the wind came a smell sharper, stronger, more lacerating than any--a smell that ripped across his brain stirring a thousand instincts, releasing a million memories--the smell of hare, the smell of fox. Off he flashed like a fish drawn in a rush through water further and further. He forgot his mistress; he forgot all humankind.
"Flush" is also what our upstairs toilet did on Friday night--the instant after Moose's cute new cell phone slipped out of her back pocket and into the swirling water. Moose never had a chance to retrieve it. She heard a plop, turned around, and thought, "What the. . .?" Only when she saw the drops of water splashed up on the seat did she remember that she had been running around with the brand new little Razr phone in her pocket all day. She reached back and felt for the sleek rectangle. "Oh, crap."

Moose came downstairs. "You're not going to believe this," she said sheepishly to me and Goose. She spent a lot of time on the (land line) phone that evening, calling Verizon to report the loss and American Express to see if their buyer's assurance program would cover it. "What number are you calling from?" somebody asked. "Well, not my cell number," Moose replied with a chuckle. On Friday everybody was funny and reassuring, but by Saturday morning some jerk from Verizon was saying that Moose would have to pay full retail price (almost $300) to get a replacement phone. This was not what she had been told on Friday, and it was definitely not what she wanted to hear. Like most consumers, however, Moose goes wobbly when confronted with a "customer service" representative whose mission is to talk in circles and beat the customer into accepting something far short of satisfaction. Moose's response to such treatment is to get angry and sarcastic, which cedes the moral high ground to the corporate robot, who then says something smarmy like, "You can get angry if you want to, m'am, but I'm still going to screw you. Have a perfectly rotten day, m'am, and thank you for calling Verizon."

In situations such as this, Goose proves that sometimes SHE is the alpha-dog in our pack. Moose hands her the phone and the paperwork and says, "Go get 'em, Thelma," and somehow she does. She can outlast anybody on the telephone, and she patiently works her way up the chain of command until she finally reaches somebody with enough sense to realize it is in the company's best interest to give her what she wants just to make her go away. "You've been so helpful, Deborah," she'll say (Goose ALWAYS gets the robot's name and uses it over and over again), "but I'm afraid you just don't have the authority to do what needs to be done here. May I speak to your supervisor, please?" Within minutes, Moose and I will hear her laughing and making jokes about how "you really wouldn't want me to go to the president's box at the University of Maryland football game tonight and say that Verizon fails to deliver customer satisfaction, now would you? I'm SO GLAD I won't have to do that!" By two o'clock yesterday afternoon, they were driving home from Bethesda with a brand new Razr phone that they had purchased for $99.99, exactly what Moose had originally paid.

The moral of story? Don't take your cell phone into the bathroom. Such accidents are more common than you might think, as this USA Today story demonstrates. The postscript to the story? We replaced the phone, but the toilet hasn't been the same since. We may end up having to call a plumber to fix our flush. Some things are beyond even Goose's amazing reparative powers.

Happy Labor Day, fans of Roxie's World. Workers of the world, WAKE UP--You're not robots, and you're all getting screwed!