Friday, February 29, 2008

Limerick Friday LXXII: Back From The Writer’s Strike

W has a pet spy bill that he’d like to get set
Guess he’s unconcerned about the out-of-control debt
If he doesn’t have enough votes, he’ll just raise the threat level
Put nothing past that sneaky, coked-up devil
Jeezus christy – is it freaking November yet?

Wouldn’t mind being the other “Other Boleyn Sister”
If Natalie and Scarlett needed a judge for naked Twister
Never knew Natty Port and I had so much in common
Besides loving to eat noodles, Raman
We both had a dream about Scarlett in which we kissed her

“Lost” has been dragging somewhat
Though not as bad as last season’s early rut
Looks like Desmond is the key to this season
Locke’s struggling to lead without reason
When you see future Kate with Aaron you say, “What?”

A wanker finds his way to Afghanistan
As he tries to rid his hair of the sand
He says to himself, “I need a rinse …
What the hell am I doing? I’m a bloody prince!
This is a job for Harry Potter and his merry band.”

All across the RBC Center the boos were heard
For the bottom-dwelling Pack that was once picked third
“How low can this goddam team go?”
Was the question for confused Coach Lowe
Sad when your best player now is Ferguson, Turd

Last time

Thursday, February 28, 2008

McCain In 12008 … That’s The Ticket!

In the interest of bipartisanship, I should mention that John McCain has come out with an inspirational campaign video along the lines of the one put out by Barack Obama.

If you’re relatively unfamiliar with McCain, he basically defined the term “liberal conservative” through much of this century, bickering with W at nearly every turn. After getting called to the principal’s office at one point to discuss things with our fearful leader, McCain emerged a defeated, weakened boor, bitch-slapped back into line as a vital member of the religious right. Now, he doesn’t know who he is and spends most of his time banging lobbyists and making absurd statements about the Iraq War.

In fact, the Comedy Central show “Lil’ Bush” pegs McCain perfectly, as follows:

“Lil' John McCain, voiced by Dave B. Mitchell; says ‘That's the straight talk’ at the end of almost every statement, loves chocolate milk. He disrespects Lil' Bush when he's hall monitor. Lil' Bush gets his vengeance by stoking fear of hippies in the school, then detaining John McCain in the back of a nearby Cuban restaurant as part of his anti-hippie security measures. Lil' Rummy then removes his brain with an ice cream scoop, after which he is a mindless zombie who does whatever Lil' Bush wants.”

Anyway, enjoy the video. Apparently, "Like Hope, But Different" is now what passes as the “straight talk” …

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

"3:10 To Yuma" Kinda Misses The Train

“Sometimes a man has to be big enough to see how small he is.”

I made it a point to put 3:10 to Yuma on my must-see list because I had read reviews hailing it as a definitive piece in the Western genre. Having not seen a film worthy of that label since “Tombstone” and suffering withdrawals from HBO cancelling “Deadwood,” I had to see “3:10 to Yuma” — a remake of a movie first made half a century ago — for myself. While it was a worthwhile picture, this was one that had way too many holes for me to consider it anything more than another ‘roided-up action flick in cowboy boots.

Russell Crowe was solid as usual playing Ben Wade, a fearsome mercenary who killed and robbed without heart or conscience. His righthand man, Charlie Prince (played by Ben Foster), captured the slightly disturbed, dangerous vibe well, but his intentions were hard to see, leaving him flat and one-dimensional. Christian Bale was good as always, depicting Dan Evans, a down-on-his luck farmer crippled in the war, overlooked by his family and forgotten by his government.

Crowe’s character quickly morphs from legendary phantom to an unbelievable blend of Keyser Soze (“Usual Suspects”), Doc Holliday (“Tombstone”) and Jason Vorhees (“Friday the 13th”). With a bounty on his head for delivering him to the train station in Yuma (hence the movie’s title), he is allowed to repeatedly kill members of the party taking him there and escape seemingly whenever he feels like it.

Director James Mangold (“Walk the Line,” “Girl, Interrupted” and “Cop Land”) filters in some memorable lines (“Tommy was weak. Tommy was stupid. Tommy is dead.”) and some armrest-clutching scenes, but there were too many clichés and too many head-scratching moments for my liking. It was an enjoyable film, but I found myself unable to elevate it enough to consider it one of the finer films of its genre that I’ve seen.

The combative relationship between Evans and his headstrong son, William, seemed forced, but it did help build up to a fairly dramatic closing scene. With brilliant use of the oncoming train as an integral part of the tension and soundtrack, Evans delivers the defining quote to his son as his possible death looms:

“You just remember your old man walked Ben Wade to that station when no one else would.”

Well-worth seeing, but “3:10 to Yuma” is not a flick that ingrains itself on you; it’s one that ends with you thinking, “Not bad” … but then quickly leaves your mind.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Say It Ain't So ... But Good Luck, Zach

When you have your head run over by a pickup truck when you’re a toddler, and you survive, I think someone is not-so-gently telling you, “You’re going to be a linebacker.” When you look like Barney Rubble and you’re five-foot-nothing and you’re white and you’re playing football, no one is ever going to give you much of a chance to be special. And when you go from being a fifth-round afterthought selection in the draft to one of the best players in the history of one of the NFL’s proudest franchises, saying goodbye to the only team that truly believed in you professionally isn’t going to be easy.

So when video emerged of Zach Thomas, now 35, taking down the parking sign that bore his name in the parking lot of Miami Dolphins headquarters, you knew the writing was on the wall. A new vice president of football operations, new general manager, new coach and a new ownership structure for a team coming off a one-win season meant more than a few changes were on the way. That doesn’t make it any easier to think of a Dolphins “D” without No. 54 in the middle.

The Dolphins, under the guidance of a confederacy of dunces that included Jimmy Johnson, Dave Wannstedt, Nick Saban and Cam Cameron, failed Zach Thomas for years and years, through seven Pro Bowls and 11 100-plus-tackle seasons. They let him literally and figuratively beat his head against the wall, leaving him battered, bruised and concussed, as the braintrust threw draft picks away like confetti, burned money on overrated, past-their-prime vets, let top talent walk out the door, and transformed what was the winningest franchise in NFL history into the league laughingstock.

Thomas did land on his feet, though, in a better situation, with a better opportunity to pursue a ring. After jeopardizing his spot in Dolphins lore by flirting with the hated Patsies, he earned contract offers from New Orleans and Dallas before choosing to return to his home state and join the Cowboys.

His was the last Miami jersey in my closet that I remained proud to wear. So even though he’ll be wearing a star on his helmet and answering questions about Jessica Simpson all of next year, I’ll still be rooting him on and keeping an eye on his progress.

Even as he left under bitter circumstances, Thomas assured the fans that he would “always be a Miami Dolphin,” no matter where he ended up. So thanks for the memories, Zach Attack ... and we’re going to hold you to that final promise.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Lazy Scranton ...

I've been forced to go the DVD route to get my "Office" fix lately, thanks to the writers' strike. Reliving Season 1 has been particularly entertaining (question: has there ever been a funnier pilot made than the one for the "Office"?), but I'm ready for new epis to start rolling out.

Laughs have been difficult to come by in the Scooter household of late, so hopefully seeing Will Ferrell & Co. tonight will be good medicine. In the meantime, enjoy this Michael Scotter & Hum joint ...

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Bad News On Gallo ...

I know that most of the news has been positive on Gallo of late, so it saddens me to relay that he has been diagnosed with hemangiosarcoma, an aggressive form of cancer that affects the vascular organs. The doctor called me last night to inform me that the pathology report on the spleen revealed this cancer, and even though the liver has not shown any evidence of the disease, they want to do an ultrasound on Gallo’s heart sometime soon to check for lesions. He has an appointment early tomorrow morning to check his blood count, and I will schedule the ultrasound for him then.

The bottom line: For now, Gallo’s prognosis is officially “guarded” … and he has been given six to 12 months to live. Pending the results of the ultrasound on his heart, we will discuss drug therapies and chemotherapy options for him.

The only good news I can muster is that, in the limited research I’ve done on hemangiosarcoma, this is a very difficult form of cancer to detect, so I have reason to believe we found it relatively quickly. Also, the doctor told me that he is currently treating a bulldog who has had hemangiosarcoma for 2.5 years and has been living comfortably without any additional therapy. So we are not prepared to give up yet, and we’ll do everything we can to keep Gallo with us as long as he is comfortable and without pain.

Thank you all once again for all of your kind wishes and happy thoughts that you made sure found their way to G-Lo; they were heard, so please keep them coming if you can. For now, he is doing well and exceedingly happy to be back home, and that's what we're trying to focus on now because that's all we can control.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Obama In ’08: Yes We Can

Like many Americans, I wanted to find out more about various candidates before making a decision on who I’d prefer to see running our country in 2008 and beyond. Unlike many Americans, however, I elected not to base my opinions on candidates on media-propagated stereotypes and partisan caricatures; I decided to actually take it into my own hands to learn more and form my own opinions.

That’s why I recently read “The Audacity of Hope” by Barack Obama. His star has risen so quickly within and outside the Democratic party that everyone is scrambling to find his weak spot, to uncover the skeletons in his closet. He’s not the ideal candidate, and there will remain questions about him just like there should be questions about every candidate until they are held over the fire of office. But I have personally learned enough to feel that he’s what both parties — and the American people — need right now. Here are a few of the things that he wrote that spoke to me:

"If anything, what struck me was just how modest people's hopes were, and how much of what they believed seemed to hold constant across race, region, religion, and class. Most of them thought that anybody willing to work should be able to find a job that paid a living wage. They figured that people shouldn't have to file for bankruptcy because they got sick. They believed that every child should have a genuinely good education — that it shouldn't just be a bunch of talk — and that those same children should be able to go to college even if their parents weren't rich. They wanted to be safe, from criminals and from terrorists; they wanted clean air, clean water, and time with their kids. And when they got old, they wanted to be able to retire with some dignity and respect.
"That was about it. It wasn't much. And although they understood that how they did in life depended mostly on their own efforts — although they didn't expect government to solve all their problems, and certainly didn't like seeing their tax dollars wasted — they figured that government should help.
"I told them that they were right: government couldn't solve all their problems. But with a slight change in priorities we could make sure every child had a decent shot at life and meet the challenges we faced as a nation."

"I am a Democrat, after all; my views on most topics correspond more closely to the editorial pages of the New York Times than those of the Wall Street Journal. I am angry about policies that consistently favor the wealthy and powerful over average Americans, and insist that government has an important role in opening up opportunity to all. I believe in evolution, scientific inquiry, and global warming; I believe in free speech, whether politically correct or politically incorrect, and I am suspicious of using government to impose anybody's religious beliefs — including my own — on nonbelievers. Furthermore, I am a prisoner of my own biography: I can't help but view the American experience through the lens of a black man of mixed heritage, forever mindful of how generations of people who looked like me were subjugated and stigmatized, and the subtle and not so subtle ways that race and class continue to shape our lives.
"But that is not all that I am. I also think my party can be smug, detached, and dogmatic at times. I believe in the free market, competition, and entrepreneurship, and think no small number of government programs don't work as advertised. I wish the country had fewer lawyers and more engineers. I think America has more often been a force for good than for ill in the world; I carry few illusions about our enemies, and revere the courage and competence of our military. I reject a politics that is based solely on racial identity, gender identity, sexual orientation, or victimhood generally. I think much of what ails the inner city involves a breakdown in culture that will not be cured by money alone, and that our values and spiritual life matter at least as much as our GDP."

"Undoubtedly, some of these views will get me in trouble. I am new enough on the national political scene that I serve as a blank screen on which people of vastly different political stripes project their own views."

"Individually, Democratic legislators and candidates propose a host of sensible if incremental ideas, on energy and education, health care and homeland security, hoping that it all adds up to something resembling a governing philosophy. Mainly, though, the Democratic Party has become the party of reaction. In reaction to a war that is ill conceived, we appear suspicious of all military action. In reaction to those who proclaim the market can cure all ills, we resist efforts to use market principles to tackle pressing problems. In reaction to religious overreach, we equate tolerance with secularism, and forfeit the moral language that would help infuse our policies with larger meaning. We lose elections and hope for the courts to foil Republican plans. We lose the courts and wait for a White House scandal."

"In other words, the Ownership Society doesn't even try to spread the risks and rewards of the new economy among all Americans. Instead, it simply magnifies the uneven risks and rewards of today's winner-take-all economy. If you are healthy or wealthy or just plain lucky, then you will become more so. If you are poor or sick or catch a bad break, you will have nobody to look to for help. That's not a recipe for sustained economic growth or the maintenance of a strong American middle class. It's certainly not a recipe for social cohesion. It runs counter to those values that say we have a stake in each other's success.
"It's not who we are as a people."

"What would that be worth to all of us — an America in which crime has fallen, more children are cared for, cities are reborn, and the biases, fear, and discord that black poverty feeds are slowly drained away? Would it be worth what we've spent in the past year in Iraq? Would it be worth relinquishing demands for estate tax repeal? It's hard to quantify the benefits of such changes — precisely because the benefits would be immeasurable."

"Perhaps someone inside the White House has clear answers to these [foreign policy] questions. But our allies — and for that matter our enemies — certainly don't know what those answers are. More important, neither do the American people. Without a well-articulated strategy that the public supports and the world understands, America will lack the legitimacy — and ultimately the power — it needs to make the world safer than it is today."

"For I am getting to an age where I have a sense of what satisfies me, and although I am perhaps more tolerant of compromise … I know that my satisfaction is not to be found in the glare of television cameras or the applause of the crowd. Instead, it seems to come more often now from knowing that in some demonstrable way I've been able to help people live their lives with some measure of dignity. I think of what Benjamin Franklin wrote to his mother, explaining why he had devoted so much of his time to public service: 'I would rather have it said, He lived usefully, than, He died rich.'"

For good measure, he’s also the subject of the most powerful and moving campaign video that I’ve ever seen … and I’m impressed that he’s willing to embrace the undeniable, overriding political message of the 21st century:

Scarlett. Johansson. Gets. Votes.*

* My WWSJD bracelet is on back order as we speak.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

G-Lo Update.

I thought I would send an update on Gallo for all those who have sent kind wishes and expressed an interest:

We stopped by to see Gallo on Thursday after work, and we even took him outside and spent some time with him. He was still battling the same symptoms – calcifications (like stones) in the gall bladder and an inflamed liver – but the doctor sounded very optimistic about his recovery and said that it looked good to be able to send him home Friday afternoon, pending the results of some tests.

Early Friday morning as I arrived at work, the doctor called and told me that there had been some very concerning developments and that Gallo had taken a drastic turn for the worse. They discovered blood pooling in Gallo’s liver and that his blood count had continued to drop precipitously. They also found some fluid in his chest cavity, but an initial test could not determine whether it was blood or not. The doctor said that the liver inflammation – as the result of an abscess or disease – was the No. 1 priority right now, but that the secondary symptoms and issues had become extremely serious. There was a drug they could give him, but it also functions as an anti-coagulant, and in case they needed to go ahead with surgery, they didn’t feel comfortable giving him a medication that would decrease his ability to clot blood. I was told that if it was primarily the gall bladder that was the stimulant for these issues, they could go ahead and remove it; however, if it was the liver that was, in effect, shutting down, there was nothing they could do. The steroids they were using to combat the issue with blood counts had shown no effect to date. I was told that even though Gallo would not die in the next couple of hours, if his prognosis continued to be severe and they couldn’t determine the cause, he might pass away during the course of Friday.

In a state of shock, I left work to go spend some time with Gallo, and we found him to be depressed and sort of quiet, but happy to see us. He was still hooked up to IVs, but he did drink a lot of water and ate his food, which contains some liver supplements. He was slated for another chest cavity exam and some further testing at 11 a.m., so we said goodbye to him at about 10:40 to let him rest up for another battery of examinations. He appeared to be very tired and (understandably) sad as we left.

Upon returning to the vet clinic after Gallo’s initial tests at 11 a.m., the doctor informed us that the results had offered a few reasons for optimism: his blood count was higher and they had yet to see any blood in Gallo’s urine or bruising in his gums or around his body, which would be indications of DIT, a form of liver disease. However, the doctor did recommend exploratory emergency surgery for Gallo, and since there was a possibility of him passing away on the operating table due to his weakened state and other risks, he needed my consent to proceed. We agreed that they couldn’t continue to simply treat his symptoms without ascertaining a cause, so we did agree that surgery seemed to be the essential and only course of action. We were allowed to see G-Lo prior to his surgery, and it weighed heavy on our hearts that it could be the last time we saw him. All we could do was tell him that we loved him and ask him to be as strong as he has been thus far through a lifetime’s worth of tests, pokes and prods in a 36-hour period. Gallo was in good spirits and very happy to see us, and the doctor said that his positive attitude and energy was a very good sign heading into surgery.

After saying goodbye, all we could do was sit and wait for what seemed like forever, but what turned out to be about an hour. The doctor emerged to say that Gallo did make it through surgery and was recuperating. Upon opening up his abdomen, they did find that he had a ruptured spleen with what appeared to be some sort of hematoma or bruise. They removed the spleen and sent it immediately to pathology to determine whether the spleen contained 1) a severe bruise, 2) some sort of cyst, 3) a benign tumor or 4) a malignant tumor. With the spleen taken care of, they were encouraged to see that what they thought to be bleeding in the kidney and liver was excess blood/fluid that had simply seeped along his rib cage due to his being a deep-chested dog. However, they are still concerned about both the gall stones and the inflamed liver (they were able to determine that it was indeed an abscess), although both are treatable with antibiotics. The hope was that he would begin a gradual recovery after the surgery and that testing on the spleen would help them to ascertain some more about his condition, which they are still puzzled about. We wonder why three organs would simultaneously experience such drastic problems, with a concern that it is a systemic condition, although the doctor seems convinced that the issues are unrelated.

With Gallo still fighting the effects of the anesthesia, we decided to leave for a bit to try to have some lunch. Upon returning an hour or so later, we were allowed to briefly see Gallo. He was very much out of it, but he did recognize us and was wagging his tail, even though he couldn’t get up or move about. Also, it seemed to be a good sign that he had pooped in his cage already (maybe he saw the bill, tee hee). We left him around 2 p.m. or so, so that he might rest up and regain his strength for what comes next for him. We visited with him around 6 p.m., and he was wagging his tail and stood up for a while, but he was still battling the effects of the anesthesia and other medications, so eventually I noticed that he was propping himself up solely by pressing his face against the side of the cage. Gallo did have to stay overnight at the vet’s office for the third straight night, but we are embracing cautious optimism.

We plan on going to see Gallo again on mid-morning Saturday. The pathology tests aren’t slated to get back for five to seven days, and the results of other tests could be affected by the President’s Day holiday, so we are in a holding pattern right now. He is stable and his blood count appears to be trending upward, so everything that can be done is being done.

It has been a very confusing time, as the doctors seem very puzzled as to what is causing this change of events. Since Wednesday evening, we’ve heard possibilities ranging from rat poison to tick disease to a number of conditions affecting various internal organs. Our hope is that enduring the surgery and all else will help him to get on the road to a stable turnaround, and also hopeful and prayerful that there are no more unexpected or severe downturns again. I am fully aware that he is nowhere near being completely out of the woods, and that there are very serious issues to be confronted with his liver, gall bladder and the pathology report on his spleen, but I am taking solace in the fact that he is handling one fight at a time and hanging in there.

It’s been a roller-coaster of emotions for the past coupla days, but our little big man continues to fight and try to overcome with an undaunted spirit and more strength than we can imagine. Thanks to all who have send their kind wishes and happy thoughts … if you made it through this “Gone with the Wind”-like post (writing helps me cope and work things out), I know that you truly care.

UPDATE (2:15 p.m.): We swung by to see G-Dog this morning and found him to be in even better spirits. He was capable of being disconnected from his various IVs to go outside, so we sat out in the sun with him for about 20 minutes. He's sporting a pink wrap on one leg, a yellow wrap on another leg and a black chest wrap, so he's making quite the fashion statement. The chest wrap is in place to help control the abdominal swelling and contain some of the leakage of blood and fluid that is coming out of his incision. His blood count continues to rise, so even though Gallo can't come home today as we had initially hoped, it appears he'll be going onto oral medications tomorrow and then possibly being released to come home on Monday. We'll be seeing him again this afternoon and then tomorrow afternoon during the limited Sunday visiting hours.

UPDATE (5 p.m.): We were able to make one last trip over to the vet's office to see Gallo one more time late this afternoon. The vet tech informed us that Gallo had decided to try to gnaw away his chest wrap, so they were getting ready to put a fresh one on him. So he was oozing a little bit out of his incision, but we were still able to take him for a brief walk outside before they rewrapped him and put a clear cone/lampshade around his collar. We tried to take the fact that he was finding ways to cause mischief and get in trouble as a good sign that he is slowly and steadily returning to his old self. Also, the doctors and techs are transitioning him onto oral medications now instead of administering everything intravenously. We'll hear another update from the on-call doctor tomorrow morning, with (*knock on wood*) the plan still being to bring G-Lo home at some point on Monday.

UPDATE (Sunday, 10:35 a.m.): I received a call from the weekend vet this morning around 10:15 for an update on Gallo. He said that G-Lo appeared to have even more pep in his step this morning when they took him on a walk. He appears to be doing well, and while the seepage from his incision continues, it seems to be less than yesterday. The seepage is coming from excess fluid in the chest/abdomen, and the vet told us yesterday that he could have removed more of the fluid during Gallo's surgery, but that there was also a benefit in leaving it in for clotting purposes at the time. That doctor appears to be second-guessing himself somewhat, but as long as the seepage continues to decline, it shouldn't be a major concern. However, if it continues for too much longer, it is something they will investigate further.

They replaced Gallo's chest wrap this morning and his incision looked better, plus he had not tried to bite at or attempt to remove the wrap overnight, thanks at least in part to the collar/lampshade that he was wearing. Also, both IVs have been removed, and Gallo is adapting well to the oral medications. Tomorrow morning, the doctors would like to check Gallo's CVC and red blood cell counts to ensure that they are still trending upward, with the expectation that if they are still rising, he may be able to come home. We can swing by to see Gallo for a bit later this afternoon, so we'll be doing that.

UPDATE (Sunday, 5 p.m.): Earlier this afternoon, we were able to spend nearly an hour and a half with Gallo, taking him outside and then sitting with him in one of the empty examination rooms. He was doing even better this afternoon, with one of the techs mentioning that the lack of conjunctivitis in his eyes and the rapid return to pink when you pressed on his gums were good indications that his blood count was continuing to rise. We expressed some concerns about some additional bruises that we discovered on his abdomen near his incision, but were told that it was part of the normal process of blood and fluid settling in the excess skin created by the surgery. Gallo is continuing to eat and drink well, with the absence of any blood in his urine or stool. His energy level appeared to be even better this afternoon as well, all good signs for his possible release at some point tomorrow. It was difficult saying goodbye once again, as he was more than ready to join us on the journey home today ... but we all remain highly hopeful and prayerful for his return to us on Monday.

UPDATE (Monday, 8:35 a.m.): I just received a call from Gallo's doctor, who told me that he is doing "fabulous" and "fantastic" this morning (no, he didn't turn gay). He is eating well and his red blood cell count continues to rise. His white blood cell count is a little higher than normal, but they are attributing that to being still in a recovery mode from his surgery on Friday. The good news is that he can be released to come home this afternoon between 4:30 and 5, so we are excited and cautiously optimistic. It will be great to have him back.

UPDATE (Tuesday, 9:30 a.m.): I'm happy to report that Gallo returned home yesterday afternoon. When we went to pick him up at the vet's office, he didn't have his chest wrap on, so that was a good sign that his incision was no longer oozing. He has to take about six different medications and is on a new dog food that has special liver supplements, plus he has to wear a clear "Elizabethan" collar/lampshade while he's alone. He had trouble getting in and out of the car on the way home (part of that was his owner's poor planning), and at one point he was feeling a little too good and jumped a couple of feet off our deck, which resulted in a yelp. Gallo has to stay in the bedroom so he doesn't get himself too worked up by the mailman coming or a squirrel running across the front yard or anything else, and it takes him a little longer to sit or lay down right now because he still has some discomfort. But the liver biopsy came back relatively normal, and he'll return to the vet on Friday morning to re-check his blood count. We also expect the return of the pathology test on his spleen at some point this week, and remain hopeful that the results are as normal and positive as possible. We'll jump off that bridge when we get to it, though; for now, it's just good to have little big man back home and feeling better.

Thanks again to all of you ...

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Little Big Man

I had to take my dog, Gallo, in to the emergency vet last night. He was in pain, and it turned out that he has a gall bladder abscess or gall stones, plus an inflamed liver, blood on his kidney and a minor clotting problem. The good news is that all these things are related and that he isn't running a fever, so antibiotics are working; he's also almost seven years old and in good health, so he has that going for him.

He had to stay overnight at the vet, so he woke up this morning scared and alone, and he yelped in pain when they began to examine him again. He has to have liver and coagulation tests today, so he'll be subjected to more poking and prodding and then he'll have to spend another evening in a cage. But he seems to be in good hands and improving, and I've been told that NC State's Veterinarian School is one of the best in the land and is nearby in case anything unforeseen happens.

Things seemed way too quiet and ordinary with him gone last night, from his empty dog bed to the absence of the click-clack of his paws skittering across the kitchen floor. All night long, he reminded me how silence can be pretty loud. He almost singlehandedly turns a house from a building into a home, so we need him back soon.

Hang in there, G-Lo ...

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Golden Gate City: Crab Stew, Seagull Poo, Gerard Depardieu and You

I was fortune enough to take my first trip to San Francisco recently … and I had no idea of what I had been missing.

Actually getting to the West Coast isn’t a really easy task. I had to endure a five-hour flight from Raleigh to Phoenix, which was jam-packed for the Super Bowl, which was only three days away at the time (as a Dolphins fan, this is as close as I’ll ever come to a Super Bowl). Then, after a long delay due to weather, I had to make it through another two-hour flight during which a Kim Jong Il lookalike hurled twice despite the fact that there was no turbulence whatsoever. Highly disturbing.

Once you actually make it to San Francisco, the first thing that hits you (besides being on a midnight airport shuttle with three creepy old people and a fat lady that we had to take directly to her house) is that every road is like a freaking roller-coaster. It’s like you feel your vehicle is about to pitch directly into the bay, then you hang a left and you're cruising through the middle of downtown. Jarring, but sorta cool, too … like Whip-Its.

Since it was a relatively brief stay, I made sure to hit the major landmarks. After a seafood omelet at the famous Sears Fine Food, it was time to take the trolley west and start with Coit Tower. Perched on Telegraph Hill, at the end of a brutal climb, the tower offers some stunning 360-degree views of the city. It’s also known for its unique ecology, which offers you the rare opportunity to see a parrot in the middle of a major metropolitan city. Very cool.

Then came a trip to Fisherman’s Wharf, which is a vibrant collection of stores, seafood, tourists and great views of the bay. I saw an old man fall down twice in the bathroom because of a slick floor, then witnessed him screaming at a couple of Hispanic janitors who appeared to be laughing at him. I got to see the sea lions at Pier 39, too. That’s when a seagull crapped on me. Good times. But a lunch of crab, calamari and clam chowder at Nonna Rose more than made up for getting grumped on.

Next came Alcatraz (*insert scary music here*). From Al Capone to Robert “Birdman” Stroud to “Machine Gun” Kelly to Alvin “Creepy” Karpis, “The Rock” was once home to the nation’s most dangerous and flight-risky criminals. Amazingly, even though Alcatraz has been closed as a maximum-security prison for nearly 45 years, it still carries an aura of fright and foreboding with it. The audio tour through the various cell blocks and the hospital was narrated by former guards and ex-inmates, detailing some of the history of the famous site, including the “Battle of Alcatraz.” During this uprising, guards had to throw hand grenades down through the ceiling at one point, and you can even see scratches and potholes created by shrapnel so many years ago.

After enduring a jam-packed ferry ride back to the dock a mile and a quarter away, it was on to the Buena Vista – home to the “world’s greatest Irish Coffee.” As something of a connosieur of the drink, it was a must-stop for me – and it turned out to be everything I had hoped for and more. I’m not sure how official any of these rankings are, but if there is a better Irish Coffee to be found on this planet, I’d like to try it.

Dinner at the Irish pub around the corner from the hotel seemed like a good idea, but it turned out to be super-expensive, non-Irish fare in a club atmosphere. No thanks. Lori’s Diner was a nearby, safe backup plan, and after a long day traipsing around San Fran, it was an easy choice.

The following day took me downtown to Chinatown – the largest one in the United States at 18 square blocks. The guide for the free tour spent most of his time stumping for money and somehow found a way to work Gerard Depardieu into a conversation about the struggles of the Chinamen (“Not the preferred nomenclature, Dude”) to earn and retain citizenship in the area years ago. I guess I had severely underestimated Gerard Depardieu’s impact on Asian American culture. I continue to maintain that Gerard Depardeiu has always been severely underestimated … notwithstanding the lifesize statue of him that resides at the foot of the Great Wall of China.

On the plus side, preparations were well underway for Chinese New Year, and I got to witness an impromptu parade in the middle of the tour. I also got to give 50 cents to take a picture with an ancient Chinese woman at the last true business to make fortune cookies by hand. Her name was Ming Li Wong Phan Depardieu. Weird.

The weather was deteriorating quickly, but I still managed lunch at a Chinese joint and then a quick visit to the famous City Lights Bookstore – largely credited with being the epicenter of the “Beat” movement. A 40-minute wait in the pouring rain for the cable car back downtown sapped the energy level, so the day was cut short, eliminating planned trips to the architectural district, Lombard Street (“the world’s crookedest street”), Haight-Ashbury and Golden Gate Park. I’ll save that for the next visit. Lefty O’Doul’s was another quick and easy choice for dinner to end the day.

Overall, I was blown away by the super-diverse feel of the city, and how closely ingrained it is with its surrounding natural environment. Two days isn’t nearly enough time to see all that San Francisco has to offer, but I’ll certainly head back at some point to spend a little more time.

Gerard Depardieu would have wanted it that way.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Get A Woody Over New Allen Film

So “industry insiders” report that Scarlett Johansson and Penelope Cruz take part in a jaw-dropping lesbian scene in Woody Allen’s new flick “Vicky Cristina Barcelona.”


[letting that sink in]

[still speechless]

Now, Scarlett has teased us before, but if this rumor is true, then Allen will go from being one of the most overrated filmmakers of all time -- he has basically made a career out of playing a stuttering manic-depressive with social anxiety disorder on-screen and an incestuous, confusing elf off it -- to the most misunderstood genius in the history of the world.

This is life-changing stuff we’re talking about here.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Friday, February 08, 2008

Limerick Friday LXXI: Do The Gambinos Have Time To Visit The White House?

Anti-mafia agents go after the Gambino family
62 arrests from New York to Sicily
Scary work taking on the mob
That’s a rather dangerous job
Seems safer to bust lip synchers like Milli Vanilli

The Patsies went out like bitches
Had me laughing ‘til I was in stitches
Got bested by one Eli Manning
Who once played a lot like Dakota Fanning
Homeless Belicheat spends his offseason living in ditches

W says to endorse the GOP
To continue his campaign to destroy the country
He says, “Eliminate all taxes on the rich!”
And, “Make sure you defeat that Democratic bitch!”
Counting the days ‘til that Texas ‘tard is made to flee

The Pack had a terrific Signing Day
Uneventful, but on the recruiting trails they made hay
Unlike Kevin Hart, who is the butt of all jokes
Since he perpetrated quite a loser hoax
Tommy O’Irish is getting some talent, I’d have to say

"Lost" has returned once again
New visitors are looking for Ben
But Ben Linus is still alive? Good lord
He’s taken more punches than Irish Mickey Ward
We’ll find out what happened to the Oceanic 6, but when?

Last time ...

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

A Day In The Life Of A Writer ...

Throw in lack of direction, illogical deadlines, ever-changing style issues, low pay and the occasional blind midget publisher and you get ...

Excuse me while I rocket myself off the roof.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Get Your Gras On

Today is Fat Tuesday, or Mardi Gras!

Happy Fat Tuesday!

But it’s also Super Tuesday in some parts of the country. So I guess that makes it officially Superfat Tuesday, sponsored by Hurley from “Lost”?

Anyway … enjoy yourself.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Giants Won, Cheaters Zero

Hey Patsies,

You let that guy pictured above beat you out of an undefeated season. How bout doze wicked retahded apples?

And Bill Belicheat was classy ‘til the end, elbowing an official aside to scamper off to the locker room in his Hobo Starter Kit before the game was even over. Hopefully someone on the video crew was able to videotape the quickest exit from University of Phoenix Stadium so he could make his escape even easier.

And thus, here’s the story of the 2007-08 New England Patriots:

Cheaters never win. Winners never cheat.

Remember that, Beantowners. Long live the Perfect ’72 Dolphins.

Mercury Morris