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Tag: humor

Chester Drawers: More fun on Craigslist

Y’all know how much I love Craigslist — the website where you can click your way across the country in search of used stuff, finding everything from hookahs to hookers, often right there in your own hometown.

In recent months, I’ve navigated its blue hyperlinked byways a lot. I’ve fallen into a few of its potholes, such as houses listed for rent that really aren’t, but I’ve also met with success. It’s where we found our temporary trailer in Arizona, home for a month, and our mansion basement in North Carolina, home for another.

It was through Craigslist that my sister bought me four lamps to brighten up my “man cave,” the ones by whose light I am writing this post, which, by now, is a few days old.

By the time you read this, Ace and I will have been to Baltimore, reclaimed my life’s possessions from my storage unit and be headed back to move it all into my new place — the small, two-bedroom apartment unit my parents lived in, almost 57 1/2 years ago, when I was born.

Reuniting with my stuff, after 11 months apart, is something I both dread and look forward to. I don’t cherish the idea of packing and hauling and unpacking, especially considering, the last time I dropped in, my stuff was all peppered with mouse poop.

But I look forward to locating, I hope, a few needed things, and, more than that, reminding myself exactly what I have. Not to mention. I’ll get a chance to see some old friends, who don’t live in my storage unit, and reunite with my cardboard girlfriend, who does.

I placed everything in storage — she, who I rescued from a Dumpster, included – at the outset of our travels. I’ve paid $90 a month for it all to have a home — money we’ll now be able to spend on something more exciting, like utilities.

But as I try to decorate my new, unfurnished place in my mind,  I find I can’t remember exactly what I have. I know I left some things — the heaviest ones — with the young couple that moved into the rowhouse I was leaving. I know I’ve loaned/given some stuff to friends, but I no longer remember either what it was, or whether it was loaned or given. I don’t think I have a coffee table anymore, or bookshelves, or my TV stand/entertainment center

I know that much of my stuff — it also having been pulled from Dumpsters — is probably not worth hauling in the first place, and won’t fit anywhere once it gets here. But the bigger concern is that I have no handle on what I have, meaning I have no handle on what I need.

I was certain, though, that I didn’t have a dining room table, and my new place has an entire room dedicated to dining. So I turned to Craigslist.

I came across an oak pedestal table offered by a guy named Woody, who lived in Woodleaf. Then I found a maple-looking table and three chairs right here in town, offered by Mr. and Mrs. Sapp, whose home I went by to pick it up.

All my time on Craigslist has led me to discover some interesting regional variances, depending on the town you are virtually visiting.

In Texas, for instance, some rancher might be trying to get rid of his surplus Bob Wire. It’s not unusual, across the country, to find baker’s racks or porch furniture that are made of Rod Iron.

And in North Carolina, and other locations southern and/or rural, you’ll find Chester Drawers.

I’d never heard of Chester Drawers, but a lot of people seemed to be offering them for sale on Craigslist. Initially, I thought Chester Drawers might be like Franklin Desks, an item of furniture named after the person or company who first built or inspired them.

Not until I repeated the term three times in my head did I realize it was malapropism/colloquialism.

I’m not making fun of malapropisms, for I quite love them — from ”oldtimers disease” to “a blessing in the skies” to, my favorite, “a new leash on life.” They add some character to our language and our culture, both of which can get so dry over time that we take them for granite.

I’m not badmouthing Craigslist, either – even though its fraught with scammers and helped kill newspapers, the industry in which I made my living.

Nor am I poking fun at the south — even though some people here pronounce my dog’s name “Ice.” I am a piece of it, and it is a piece of me. I was conceived here (more on that later) born here, schooled here and just maybe it’s where I belong.

Or not. I don’t know yet. All these things, I’m sure, will become clear over time, just as all my stuff will find a proper place, at which time I will no longer be so discombobulated. Give me a month and, I promise, I will be combobulated.

Now, though, I need to find the key to my storage unit lock.

Last time I saw it, it was in my Chester Drawers.

You can’t beat these prices, folks!

Overwhelmed with cats, the Winnipeg Humane Society put together this hilarious appeal — a spoof of the kind of tacky, hyperbolic, low-budget ad anyone who watches late night TV is familiar with.

The shelter found a willing narrator in Andy Hill, the son of Nick Hill, whose was famed for his local furniture store ads in the 1980s, reports Yahoo’s Daily Brew. Nick Hill, who died in 2003, appeared in the ads for Kern-Hill Furniture wearing a 10-gallon hat urging customers to “C’mon Down!”

“Looks like someone left the kitty machine on overnight, and now we have a cat-astrophe on our hands,” Andy Hill says in the ad for a “Kitty Midnight Madness” sale. 

Hill touts “Girl cats! Boy cats! Used-to-be boy cats! … Calico cats, Siamese cats, short-hair cats, long-hair cats, no-hair cats, bad-hair cats, spotted cats, striped cats, black cats and white cats.” He even suggests a “lazy cat to cover up that hole in the couch,” and promises “if we can’t find you a cat you love, we’ll give you a (bleepin’) dog!”

“You can’t beat these prices folks, so c’mon down.”

Ephemera is here to stay

It was a windy day, with patches of rain that came and went as I drove from Bangor, through western Maine, New Hampshire and into Vermont on Highway 2 – a rolling ribbon of smooth (mostly) blacktop, dotted with flea markets, farms, campgrounds and more than a few antique stores.

It’s the same road John Steinbeck took 50 years ago with his poodle Charley on the trip that would lead to the book “Travels With Charley” – a book whose place is firmly cemented as a timeless American  classic.

The high winds were blowing leaves, at the peak of their color, off the trees, and sending them swirling across the highway like swarms of bees – signaling that nature’s most beautiful and all-too-transitory season would soon be coming to an end.

As I whizzed along through the drizzle, one particular antique store caught my eye — though not in time to stop — because, among the other things its sign advertised, was: “Ephemera.”

As the antique barn disappeared in my rearview mirror, I kept repeating the word aloud, which I tend to do when I confront an unusual word while driving alone with Ace. He responds with head tilts and funny looks, and he did so especially with “ephemera,” probably because it sounds, to him, vaguely like “dinner.”

I had a fair notion what ephemera was — just as I have a fair notion of what curios, trinkets, knick-knacks and bric-a-brac are. I knew ephemera was not a perfume, though it sounds like one; or a prescription drug, though it sounds like one; or a skin condition, though it sounds like one.

What, I fantasized, if I had stopped at the shop? The door, I’m sure, would have had a bell on it that jingled when I entered, and a friendly proprietor would have approached, who would have reminded me of one of the characters on the Bob Newhart Show (the one where he had an inn).

“Can I help you with anything today?”

“Yes,” I’d say. “I understand you have ephemera.”

“Indeed we do,” the proprietor would say, rubbing his dry, chapped hands together. “What particular type of ephemera are you interested in – what genre?”

“Oh,” I’d say, “I guess some basic ephemera, run of the mill ephemera.”

“What is it you collect?”  he’d say.

“It varies,” I’d answer. “Unemployment. Plastic bags to pick up dog poop. Dust. Dog hair. Fast food coupons. My thoughts.”

“I see, but what exactly are you looking for today, ephemera-wise?”

“Well, I’m pretty open,” I’d say. “But I want some good, sturdy ephemera — something that lasts.”

At that point, he’d look puzzled and begin pointing out items on his dusty shelves – defunct board games, old movie posters, paper dolls, airsickness bags, cigar boxes, bookplates, old fashioned Coca-Cola bottles, baseball cards, lunch pails, seed company advertisements, old maps and calendars from years past.

“And there’s this,” he’d say, picking up a Life magazine with Marilyn Monroe on the cover. “This is classic ephemera.”

“Do you have any more modern-day ephemera?” I’d question.

“Only this Justin Bieber CD, this Kentucky Fried Chicken sandwich that uses slabs of chicken in lieu of bread, and these Kindles – but we’re not totally sure yet they will be ephemeral.”

“I guess we can only hope.”

He would smile only slighty, and it would quickly fade from his face. “Ephemera is tricky stuff,” he’d say.

“But if people are preserving it, is it really ephemeral?” I’d ask. “By collecting it, or selling at high prices, as you do, these things that no longer have much use, does not that run counter to their very ephemerality – taking something intended to be transitory and short term and preserving it for eternity?  Isn’t ‘classic ephemera’ a contradiction in terms?”

“Yes and no,” he’d say.

With that, I would take my leave, more confused than I was when I entered. I’d turn on my wipers to shoo the fallen leaves off my windshield. I’d check my gas tank – gas, now there’s something that’s truly ephemeral – give Ace a pat on the head and keep heading west.

Kudzu dogs and trivial pursuits

Remember that kudzu dog I showed you a few weeks back?

The one I encountered in Alabama?

This one:

It turns out he has friends. In my travels through the south and the trip back to Baltimore, I kept seeing dogs in the kudzu.

Maybe it was just the power of suggestion — that after seeing that first one, it made me tend to see more, whether they were there or not. Perhaps one sees in kudzu what they want to see, or perhaps I’ve been writing about dogs too long. I became a little obsessed with kudzu dogs, making u-turns to go back for a second look, pulling off on the narrow shoulders of highways to take pictures as big trucks rumbled by and made the car shake.

It led to some reflection — some self-questioning, at which I am a master. I’d hate to die while taking pictures of kudzu dogs. It’s not exactly a noble cause. Maybe, it made me think, it’s time to get a real job.

I thought: Here I am, a 56 — soon to be 57 — year-old man, spending his day looking for kudzu dogs, as opposed to, say, being assistant vice president of somethingoranother. Have I traveled too far down Whimsy Road? Is it time to drop the gypsy thing and get serious and responsible — get a job and home, settle down and shut the heck up? It was one of those look in the (rearview) mirror moments.

But when I looked in the mirror I saw — in addition to me, and that I needed to shave, and Ace — a clump of kudzu back down the road a piece that looked exactly like Snoopy.

So I got back on the highway, made two more u-turns and took some more pictures as big trucks rumbled by.

Then I proceeded north, still questioning myself – and still seeing dogs in the kudzu:

Stop looking for dogs in kudzu, I told myself. I couldn’t do it. I wondered if it might be a disorder of some sort, or perhaps a sign that, whimsical though it is, I should pursue my plans to establish the Kud-Zoo.

Maybe it’s just because I’m a dog writer that I’m seeing dogs in the kudzu. Elephant or giraffe writers might look at the same clump and see  elephants or giraffes i the kudzu. But they sure look like dogs to me. This one (left), for instance, is clearly a kudzu poodle. See his little paws? He appears to be licking them, or maybe trying to remove a burr.

I don’t want to spend the rest of my like looking for dogs in kudzu, but I fear — to some extent — I will. Maybe it’s not an entirely bad thing.

There are worse compulsions.

And it’s not like I’m doctoring any photographs. All of the above are “unretouched,” as they say. Nothing has been manipulated. That would be wrong, and, given my photoshopping skills, detectable.

And it would make my situation only more pitiful yet — that of a man spending half his life looking for dogs in kudzu, half of it taking photos of them, and half of it retouching those photos so they look even more like dogs.

And that just wouldn’t add up to much of a life at all.

(“Dog’s Country” is the continuing account of one man and one dog spending six months criss-crossing America.)

Please don’t squeeze the “envision”

Now that’s a toilet paper name.

None of that puffy-cloud, bed-of-cotton, heaven-and-angel imagery. No, when Georgia-Pacific chose a name for its toilet paper, it picked “envision.”

A lofty moniker, even in lower case, but not fluffy — like Cottonelle, Charmin or White Cloud, or other Georgia-Pacific brands (Quilted Northern, Angel Soft and Soft’n Gentle.)

I’m no expert on toilet paper marketing trends — other than noticing that most companies try to portray their product, often with the use of clouds and puppies, as the softest substance on earth. But there has also been a slightly less ballyhooed move toward more environmentally friendly products.

envision describes itself as 100 percent recycled, which, even though it doesn’t really mean that 100 percent of it comes from recycled waste paper, is a step in the right direction — one also taken by brands such as Seventh Generation, Ecosoft and Small Steps, from Marcal.

I’d never run into envision before, but it seems to be the brand of choice at Motel 6 — the chain that, in our continuing travels, we often end up in because of its combination of dog-friendliness and affordability.

With its greenish wrapper, and its Obama-esque name, envision not only starts with same four letters as “environment,” but seems to convey, if you read between the lines – or in this case, plies — a message of hope for a cleaner planet. Of course one could draw other connotations. Most people in the midst of their constitutional, if they’re not reading, are envisioning — thinking lofty and throneworthy thoughts about what they are going to accomplish in the day ahead, or at least about the successful completion of the deed at hand.

Either way, it’s a very hopeful sounding toilet paper, one that seems to tell us to shoot for the stars, be all you can be. If you can view it, you can do it. You, like it, are on a roll.

Ten reasons dogs should be eligible for Oscars

hotel-for-dogs

 
1. They wouldn’t give overly long acceptance speeches.

2. They wouldn’t waste huge amounts of money on gowns.

3. They would deal better with both victory and defeat.

4. We like them, we really like them.

5. They could get to the stage much more quickly.

6. It makes more sense than Michael Vick getting a “Courage Award.”

7. They’ve been snubbed as a species by the academy for far too long.

8. Their ego and bank accounts don’t require constant feeding — just themselves.

9. Oscar chew toys would be cheaper than statuettes

10. The red carpet is probably cleaned every year anyway.

(Photo: From the movie “Hotel for Dogs)

Taking Pfido on vacation is pfine with Pfizer

cereniaSometimes the news media is just soooo cynical.

Case in point: Pfizer, the drug company, is extolling the benefits of taking the family dog along when traveling for the holidays. The holidays are stressful times, Pfizer notes. Dogs can help relieve stress. Why leave a beloved member of the family behind?

In an email worthy of Hallmark that was sent to various news media outlets, Pfizer makes note as well of the “tough economic times” and how “the unconditional love from your dog can go a long way toward helping your family manage that extra stress.”

How thoughtful.  Imagine, a multi-national corporate giant like that being so full of holiday spirit that they are thinking about us little people/dog owners when they could be obsessing, Scrooge-like, about profits.

Pfizer even launched a Twitter feed called “Dog On Board” to “help families talk about including their dog in their family holiday.” 

Leave it to the Wall Street Journal, in the newspaper’s ”Health Blog,” to suggest Pfizer might have an ulterior motive when it suggests you pack your dog along in the car or airplane when you make your holiday trip.

Pfizer sells Cerenia, a drug that prevents motion sickness and vomiting in dogs.

satire sigBut is that so terrible? So what if Pfizer stands to profit more if more dogs are going over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house, preferably by winding roads?

Lest that make you — like all the cynical news media and bloggers — question Pfizer’s sincerity and compassion, allow me to remind you that Pfizer is the same company that offered this summer to give away more than 70 of its most widely prescribed human drugs, including Lipitor, Zoloft and Viagra, for up to a year to people who have lost jobs since Jan. 1 and have been taking the drug for three months or more.

Of course, there were cynics when they did that, too — those who speculated the company was doing it for a tax write-off, to gain favor in Washington, or to ensure that those who are hooked on Pfizer’s fine products, maintain their, shall we say, allegiance.

While the news media and bloggers are having a field day with what they see as Pfizer’s awkwardly see-through attempt to drum up business, I, for one, salute the drug company –  not just for bringing relief to the estimated one in seven dogs who get carsick, and not just for ensuring that an unemployed man can get, if not a job or health care, at least a boner, but for being able to fool so many of the people so much of the time.

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