Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Yes dear, it IS a little dusty in here.

The Human Male had a lab growing up named Shadow. From the stories I've heard, she sounds like quite the handful. Shadow would show up in the back seat of cars, swung from a rope swing they had in their yard, and would lick dishes clean-- despite them already being loaded in the dishwasher. One story that I like in particular is that one day their neighbor found Shadow in her kitchen, happy as a clam and eating all of their food.

The Human Male loved Shadow a lot, and it's apparent that even years later, he still misses her a lot. He lights up when he sees a lab walking around, quick to tell the owner that he had a lab, too. He tells stories of her antics with such sweetness. Even when he talks about the rough last months, when she had hip dysplasia and he had to hold her up while she did her business, he talks about it in a way that never discounts Shadow sense of dignity. It's really sweet.

Over the weekend I discovered the Reserve Online feature on the Redbox. For those of you who aren't familiar with what is arguably the greatest creation of the 21st century, the Redbox is a movie dispenser that lets you check out DVDs for $1 a night. Our local grocery store has one and it's the best, but the Reserve Online option takes the cake. If a box has a movie in, it'll let you check it out from home-- all you have to do is bring your credit card down and pick it up.

Reserve Online has allowed me to take selfish, passive-aggressive laziness to a whole new level. Now I don't have to walk that two whole blocks to the store unnecessarily, and I like to imagine that when I click the reserve button, the person who made me wait six whole days for Quantum of Solace to come back in is in the store, trying to check out the movie I got to first-- AND I'm still in my pj's. Suck it, fellow Daniel Craig Lover!

Today, two movies I wanted to see came out: Slumdog Millionaire and Marley & Me. I reserved them first thing this morning, with big plans to watch them both tonight-- one, though passive-aggressive renting is satisfying, it's not very nice to be keep them for extended periods of time when other people could be renting; and two, I refuse to break down and pay another dollar for a second night. I don't care how many Oscars it's won! I don't care if I love Owen Wilson almost as much as George Clooney! I can't do the dollar.

After the anti-theft encryption on Slumdog Millionaire blocked it from playing on my four-year-old DVD player, we chose to watch Marley & Me. I read the book a few years ago and loved it, and was surprised what a great job they did turning it into a movie-- definitely not the same, but still completely lovable. And as the book made me cry, so too did the movie-- a lot. Maybe it was the story, maybe it was the fact that Alice was curled up in my lap the whole time, maybe it's just because I'm super girly when it comes to movies and cry at the hint of mood music. I don't know. Whatever it was, I turned into a mess. The Human Male, per usual, starts laughing at me.

So it gets to the end, when John and Marley are at the vet's office for the last time, and out of nowhere, the Human Male says, "Boy, it sure is dusty in here."

I look over to him and notice his eyes look a little red and glistening. This, of course, causes me to both laugh and cry harder.

"Dusty?" I ask him.

"Yeah. It's a little dusty in here," he repeats as he rubs his eyes.

Yes, my love. It was a little dusty tonight.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Hot Men Holding Pugs: You Never Forget Your First Love.

Once upon a time, at the dawn of the 21st century, I was in college. This was my dorm room for two years.

I loved this place (the room, not the school). It was tiny, the carpet was ripped, the guy upstairs was crazy and loud, and it was haunted. And it was awesome.

One of the things that made it most awesome? If you can avert your eyes from that glorious piece of claymaking prowess, notice the fine art on the wall.

If I had a scanner, you would see that it’s these two pictures:

Gleaned joyfully from the Fun Times Guide.

My love affair with George Clooney goes way back. It’s seriously been decades now-- maybe even a little bit longer than the Human Male's been alive. Which is why he had to sign papers acknowledging that if the two of them ever got into a streetfight, he understands that I'd be rooting for George. It's true. Anyway, I remember being around six or so and watching The Facts of Life and thinking the guy with the giant fluffy mullet that accounted for half his weight was pretty handsome—cuter than Shaggy from Scooby Doo, even.

I don’t know what it is about him. Maybe it’s the name—George has always been one of my favorites. Maybe it’s the substantial eyebrows you can grab and hold onto. Maybe it’s the premature gray that makes him an ageless, dapper, semi-silver fox. They're like Maybe it’s because he was once in an Attack of the Killer Tomatoes movie.

Whatever it is, it’s always worked for me. My love for him runs so deep, there’s a slight chance that my closest friend growing up was my friend because of his striking resemblance to GC. There’s an even greater chance that I might’ve voted in a primary for a guy who had the same name as a character he once played.

So imagine how ecstatic I was nearly nine years ago to get this Movieline magazine in the mail, a gift from my mom with a note saying that she was sending me new dorm room d├ęcor. Two of my favorite things in one: George Clooney and a baby pug. Proof positive that mothers always do know what’s best for their kids.

Imagine how even more ecstatic I was this past week, after the Human Male showed me last week's picture and I immediately thought of these monumental works of art with George. I tried to track one down quickly, but I couldn’t find any good ones online. And yet within minutes of her reading the blog, Mamala sent me a link to this splendid post, with the note "This picture must make your list!"

Simple, direct, and so very, very true. This epitomizes the purpose of this feature: one very hot man holding an adorable pug. It's gold, baby.

One of my biggest fears in life is that the planets will align just so and I’ll find myself in the same area code as he. I can guarantee I’d embarrass myself terribly-- say something stupid, spill something on him, find out that I'd tucked my shirt into my bra and was having the worst hair day ever. Though at the same time, I’d kind of like to run into him with Alice and be able to have just one picture taken of them together before the cops put the handcuffs on.

Now that would be some fine art.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Hot Men Holding Pugs.

About half an hour ago, the Human Male called to me from the bedroom.

"I have something that will make you like Alec Baldwin more!" He says, in a sing-songy voice.

When someone yells something as cryptic as this to you, it piques your interest.

"Oh, really? What is it?" I respond.

The Human Male walks in with his computer and shows me the
30 Rock recap page from The AV Club Website. On it was this picture:

Photo uploaded from The AV Club Website.

Okay, so I squealed pretty heavily. I'm a sucker for a man holding a pug. I don't know what it is, but every guy I've ever seen holding one looks sooo much better looking than when he's not.

And, yes, I do now like Alec Baldwin a little bit more.

"You know, you could start a blog:
Hot Men Holding Pugs," the Human Male said.

And so it begins.

I'm not sure how many pictures there are out there of hot men holding pugs, if there's enough to facilitate a whole blog, but I'm sure there's enough for at least a few weeks of a Friday Feature.

So behold: the inaugural
Hot Men Holding Pugs (or Pug Hybrids) posting.

Any week I can find a picture, I'm going to post a picture of a guy holding a pug or pug mix. If you have one or know where there's one online, please feel free to send it to me. I'll post it-- as a service to all who love hot men and pugs.

Next time: If I can track it down, the picture I had on my wall in college and still dream about regularly.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

It's True!

I took Alice out last night, and shortly after we got to Potty Hill, Rocco came out. He was down at another end of the Hill, but when he saw Alice, he came bounding over, a big stupid grin splashed across his face. When she looked up from the patch of grass she was giving a thorough investigatory sniff, she ran over to him. I've never seen Alice play so happily with another dog.

Rocco's owner came over, and I asked-- just to confirm, since my track record's awful this week-- if that was Rocco.

"Yeah, it is. Rocco loves Alice," she responded with a smile.

It's official! Alice and Rocco are in loooooooove.

Thursday, March 12, 2009


So I'm a little bit on the shy side. I thought living in New York beat it out of me, but it came back when I moved to D.C. It might be because there's a whole lot of judgmental people here-- the nature of the game in a town that runs a good portion of the world. Or maybe it's because I lived for many years by myself, and as the Human Male puts it, I went "a little feral".

Whatever it is, I get a little nervous in social situations. Having Alice has helped a lot-- I always have a conversation piece. Today, however, I failed miserably.

A friend of mine sent me an e-mail this afternoon, asking if I'd go with her to check out some lamps she found on Craig's List. The house was a couple of miles from my house, and she didn't want to go alone in case they were serial killers and not lamp dealers. Figuring that I didn't really have anything better to do than to potentially get killed close to home tonight, I said of course, and went home earlier than I typically do to meet her.

It ended up that the sellers were an incredibly nice young couple with a sweet little boy, so my evening plans ended early. It was a bit on the chilly side but still light out, so Alice and I braved it and went to the Dog Park.

Now that it's light out later, the Park was pretty packed. I've found that dog people go to the Park at pretty set times-- if you go at a set time, you're apt to see the same people. If you go at another hour, the visitors change. Today was a good mix of dogs we knew and dogs that were new.

So we're walking along, and a girl and her mom walks by. The girl looked kind of familiar, but so did the girl who owned the house with the lamps. She smiles and says to her mom, "Oh, look-- it's one of our neighbors!"

I look at her dog, and my first thought is that it might be Rocco-- same coloring and about the same size. But his head looks... different. And he's wearing a pink collar.

Then I think that maybe she's someone who the Human Male's run into while taking Alice out (we've cut a deal that he'll take Alice out while it's unbearably cold to me, and I'll take her out when it's stifling hot to him). But the owner looks so... familiar.

Basically, I find myself paralyzed between acting like I know her or acting like she knows my dog and has no idea who I am. Since I'm rendered extra stupid anytime I'm cold, tired, hungry, feeling fat, having a bad hair day, not sure if my makeup looks okay, wearing black, out in public, or all of the above-- as I was tonight-- I couldn't think of how to respond and just smiled.

She then starts talking to Alice by name. My mind starts racing-- I can't place this girl at all. She's referring to my dog by name, and I just figured out that her dog's female.

Thank goodness, my neighbor Laura appears out of nowhere. Laura's one of those people who's never met a stranger-- and she knows all the dogs in the building by name.

"Bella! Oh, how are you beautiful girl?" she yells to the dog.

That's when I remember her.

Last Saturday, Bella stopped by and said hello. And by hello, I mean she walked into our house and made herself at home. We talked to the girl for quite some time, too, and she was really nice (I'm going to use the Clark Kent defense for not recognizing her right away-- her hair was wet when she came over on Saturday and she, um, looked different).

You would think that when a dog you'd never met before comes over for a visit and asks what's for dinner, you'd remember her. But it wasn't the first time. It wasn't even the first time that week.

We live on the first floor of our building by the area known lovingly as "Potty Hill". So we have a lot of very friendly dogs pass by and say hi regularly as they go out or run around in the fire lane. And sometimes they can't tell the difference from their house, a friend's house, or a stranger's house, and walk right in. For example, our first weekend in our apartment, a neighbor lab came in and said hi. Earlier last week, a pug and Italian greyhound stopped in for a chat. It's really just a funny, charming part of our building-- the Human Male and I love it.

Once I could place the name and how we knew them, I could say hi to the dog and make a small-talk comment about how she hasn't stopped by this week. Hopefully the next time we run into the girl, I won't be
cold, tired, hungry, feeling fat, having a bad hair day, not sure if my makeup looks okay, wearing black, out in public, or all of the above, and we can have a new friend in the building.

Everyone, please don't let me forget this time.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Nielsen Money.

The Human Male and I realized tonight that we haven't picked up the mail in a while-- at least a week, but I actually don't remember the last time I grabbed it at all. So we stopped by our box and it was packed. Letters, fliers, junk, even a birthday card for the Human Male (it was last Wednesday) and a letter from our building dated last Tuesday saying that the construction that's been surrounding our apartment since last Thursday would be starting... well, last Thursday.

One item in particular caught my eye-- it was a letter from Nielsen. Yes, that Nielsen. The Nielsen of the Nielsen ratings. The Nielsen of "box" fame. The Nielsen who decides that not enough people watch my shows and cancels them. Still reeling from the hurt of Pushing Daisies getting nixed (and in hope that the letter was a form that would allow me to get this magical box, and that I could single-handedly keep ANTM on forever), I giddily opened it up and found a survey, asking me about my TV watching habits. My slight disappointment that it wasn't a shipping form for my Nielsen box was quickly assuaged when I pulled out not one, not two, but five whole brand-new, crips $1 bills.

They were paying us to talk about our TV habits?! AWESOME! So the Human Male and I filled out the two-sided questionnaire (taking special care to mention in the "add any thoughts" last question that they should start tracking DVR recordings and that I'd really wish they'd stop cancelling all of my shows), and then did what any two rational people and their dog would do.

We rolled in the Nielsen money.

Let me tell you, it was the most fun I've ever had rolling in money. Free TV money feels good. No matter what I do with it, when I spend my $2 share, I'll truly feel I got my money's worth.

Alice has a BOYFRIEND!

And I'm talking a real one-- not like her crush on Warren Brown, whose vanilla cupcakes she adores.

The Human Male has reported to me that Alice has made friends with Rocco, a border collie/lab mix who lives across the courtyard from us.

Apparently when they see each other outside, Alice (who's typically quite shy initially around other dogs) gets very excited and they play together. I also noticed him standing on his balcony, glancing at her loooovingly on Saturday when we were out on the patio.

I don't know why, but I absolutely love teasing Alice about it.

"Alice has a BOY-FRIEND! Do you give Rocco kisses?" I say to Alice and dance around her. She starts jumping around, too, which I'm pretty sure means yes in dog.

"Do you want to snuggle with him and share your toys? Do you? I bet you do! OhyesIbetyoudooo!"

She looks at me with her googly eyes and a big, toothy grin. Affirmative. Alice loves Rocco.

Oh, Miss Alice. Whatever will your Cupcake Boyfriend Warren say? Will you still go see him at book signings? Or will you bring Rocco along, too?*

*There there, Warren-- I have no intention on giving up my unhealthy addiction to Cakelove anytime soon. So at least you'll have work to keep you busy.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Found: A Unicorn.

There's a restaurant in Old Town Alexandria called the Hard Times Cafe. It's a great little chili place that has meals that could give you a heart attack just looking at them-- chili cheddarburger, anyone? Outside of their restaurant, they keep an old truck with a horse in front of a flag in the bed (it's funny when you first see it, but you get quite used to him).

After looking at some pictures, I found out yesterday that he was in the St. Patrick's Day Parade, but dressed as a unicorn with a (human) leprechaun riding on his back. When we went down to the marina in attempt #2 of our Saturday plans, we passed by him and saw he was still decorated for St. Pat's-- complete with a pot of (candy) gold. We had to get Alice's picture with him.

The picture's not the best as I took it with my phone, but you can get the point.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

A funny thing happened on the way to the market...

So I started off the day with the following intentions:

1. Get up.

2. Go to the farmer's market and buy tomatoes.

3. Go to the local pug meet-up at 11A.

4. Have my friend Honey over for brunch (and by brunch, I mean burn some waffles and drink wine).

5. Recover from brunch, etcetera.

I woke up at 7:30, and decided that a. I didn't feel like being adventurous (aka, testing out a new farmer's market as I'd planned), so instead I'd go to my old stand-by market, the one in Old Town Alexandria*; and b. I'd do a rare thing for a Saturday (and even rarer for going to the farmer's market), I'd actually take a shower and get dressed.

I tend to diddledork around a lot when I get dressed, so we left the house sometime around 9A. We decided to bring Alice with us
-- while they don't allow dogs into the market, I figured we'd go down to the marina and toss a ball around for a while (as an aside, I also decided to pack my camera, in case we left OT late. That way, I wouldn't need to stop back at the house to pick it up before the meet-up).

When we got down there, we started noticing a lot of no parking signs. It occurred to me that it might be St. Patrick's Day Parade Day-- a very fun event in OT with a bunch of activities, typically done a ridiculously long time ahead of St. Patrick's day (I believe last year it was held the first day of March). We began to think that maybe our day would be a little different. There will be a pug meet-up next month; we'll go then. And maybe Honey wouldn't mind rescheduling (she didn't). I was also feeling pretty lucky that I decided on a whim to bring my camera. We got some terrific pictures of Alice just walking around.

On the way down to Center Square (where the farmer's market is held), a woman stops us and coos over Alice.

"You're entering her in the dog show, right?" she asks.

"Um...what?" we respond.

It ends up that on Parade Day, there's a big dog show (aptly called the Fun Dog Show) that benefits the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria, the local shelter. There are vendors around and several different contests you can enter. But as the lady explained, it's "definitely not Westminster": categories include Most Unique/Disproportionate Dog; Distinctive Markings; Best Tail Wagger; Most Unusual Tail; Best Irish Costume; and my favorite, Dogs and Owners with the Most Similar Hair. We asked her where it was being held, and she said right down at Center Square.

So apparently the farmer's market ends early on Parade Day to accommodate the dog show. We walked the couple of blocks down, and surrounding the signs that says "Please no pets on the Square during the farmer's market" are dogs. And not just normal dogs, but also dogs dressed up in outfits that would make a leprechaun cringe. Dogs wearing green beaded necklaces. Even a dog with green pipe cleaners wrapped around his tail. The place was teeming with dogs. And even one cat on a leash, who looked like he'd be doing anything but hanging out at the Fun Dog Show.

It was just too much fun-- and too coincidental that we just happened to change all of our plans and bring Alice-- not to sign up. We entered her in two contests: Most Unique Look and Most Unusual Tail. And then we ran across the street to CVS and bought her some St. Patrick's Day flair.

She didn't win either contest, but she was on stage three times: for both of her contests and they asked that all dogs who came from shelters to come on stage and be introduced (let me tell you how great it was to see how many there were-- it took easily 10-15 minutes to do all of the 10 second intros. Let me also say I was really glad I decided on a whim to get dressed this morning). She handled it surprisingly well. The crowds didn't bother her, she made a couple of new dog friends, and she got lots of attention from both adults and kids. Alice loves attention from anyone, but she was in heaven with all of the kids-- she's nuts for them.

One thing that I really loved is that the Fun Dog Show really catered toward the misfit dog-- the kind you see a lot around here.
I remember years ago my mom told me that when she was little, she entered her dog in some sort of little contest like that and hers was crowned ugliest. She said it really upset her. At the Fun Dog Show, there was zero attempt to crown the prettiest dog. There were dogs on stage with badly bobbed tails, questionable heritage, old and gray, scarred, over- and undergrown, funny-looking mixes, you name it. And yet all of them were welcomed and considered viable contenders. What was really cute is that every dog that competed got a ribbon. Seeing dogs walk around wearing their ribbons was too precious for words.

Once the Fun Dog Show was over, we staked out a curb a few blocks away and watched the parade. Alice was really good for probably about an hour (she even had her picture "taken" with Alexandria's Mayor Euille-- he's the one in the hot red car), but about 20 minutes into the parade we learned that Alice has grown to ignore motorcycle noise but is petrified of drums and bagpipes. Not the best thing to fear while at a St. Patrick's Day parade. She hid behind the Human Male for a bit with the drums, and we moved her away for the second bagpipe brigade-- it didn't help, so we went home. She seemed so relieved on the car ride home.

After getting back to the house, we sat on the patio and enjoyed the beautiful 70-degree weather (hard to believe we had a big snowstorm just five days before), and Alice curled up in my lap, tired out from her big day.

It's always interesting to look back at the end of a day and to see how different it ended up from what you intended. If you told me Alice was coming home as an "award-winner", that we'd learn that she hates bagpipers and drum corps, that we'd get her picture in front of a Delorean, and that I'd be buying tomatoes at the grocery store 12 hours later than originally planned, I wouldn't have believed it.

* As an aside, no one ever believes me when I tell them that Old Town has a Confederate soldier statue in the middle of an intersection. I remembered to take a picture of it this time. See? Yes, Virginia's considered the South, people.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Off topic, but well worth sharing.

A big deal happened in my former home of Albany, New York today, and I'm so proud of it, I had to share.

I think everyone's heard of the Westboro Baptist Church-- they're that crazy "church" group that protests at military funerals, claiming that God kills soldiers as punishment for the U.S.' tolerance of gays and for allowing gays in the military. They also put tiny kids out on the front line to shout "Thank God for 9/11", spit on flags, and other pleasantries. Today they planned a protest outside of Albany High School. Why, I don't know. Albany High has enough problems right now without having to deal with these pieces of work.

New Yorkers are the biggest pains in the ass-- and I truly mean that with the utmost love and respect. Try to go against things they believe and you'll meet the fury. So you can imagine when a universally reviled group dares to step foot on New York land, it wasn't going to be a pretty scene.

And yet, it was-- in the right way. After a brief picketing at AHS, six members of Westboro were greeted by 300 people at my grad school alma mater, UAlbany. There was no violence, no arrests (which is good, as it's known that the church is funded by suing people at protests), but lots of color and lots of love-- and a good amount of humor. I think it's important to note that some local church leaders were involved in organizing the protest and vigils around it, including Reverend Tony Green and Pastor Charlie Muller, who's gotten a lot of press lately as he works to make Albany a more loving, safer city (especially for local kids and college students). Both gave some terrific interviews today, but I found a great news snippet from Pastor Charlie from a local station that sums the sentiment up nicely:

Pastor Charlie Muller of the Victory Christian Church says while they legally have a right to be here, he's not just going to standby and watch it happen.

"You know, don't let the kids be exposed to this. But you know what? I want to send him a clear message, too that you don't represent the church that I represent," said Muller.

I love it, and I think a lot of other people do, too. Here's a slideshow of some beautiful pictures that Sebastien B. took of the event. I think too often the loudest voices say that gays, the church, and the military can't coexist peacefully. These photos prove otherwise.

Every once in a while, I really miss living in New York. I never thought a day in March (the worst month of the year there) would be one of them.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

So nice, they posted her twice.

I just got an e-mail from Planet Dog-- apparently Alice has been posted in their photo album! She's located on page 10 (FYI, just found out it's alphabetical, so the page may change). And her picture is currently posted twice. I'm sure that this is a glitch and will be sorted out soon, but it's kind of fun for now (though the thought of two Alices and the mayhem that would ensue still terrifies me).

I'm happy to see she's up there, but truthfully, I'm not entirely sure what's going on with this. I sent her picture to them in January for a monthly contest, and I assumed she didn't win. But given the text at the top, I'm not so sure anymore. Maybe she's still in the running? Maybe it's like the Mob, and once you enter, you can never get out?

Monday, March 2, 2009

Six very happy months.

We brought Alice home on September 2nd, 2008, making today the six month anniversary of when Alice joined our family. I'm surprised it's already been six months, but if feels like we've had her forever.

So far, she's had a pretty good day. She started off by stealing all of the bed and blankets, and in a strange twist of fate, DC got a sizable snowstorm in the wee hours of this morning (sizable enough that I'm positive that if the Prez hadn't called DC residents a bunch of wusses recently, the town would be shut down-- it's actually kind of a scary amount for this area), so both the Human Male and I were home for the day
. Two humans at home means twice the treats.

Alice has had a very full day. Being home, I documented it all.

She started off by scratching her side:

Then she sat on the Human Male and stared at me for a while:

She posed for pictures for a few minutes:

Then she spent a little more time lounging on the Human Male:

After that, she laid in bed with her toys:

And then she pretended to be the Human Male's parrot for a bit:

Her day wasn't all easy, though. For a couple of minutes, the Human Male left the chair:

But then he came back, and all was well again:

A bit later this evening, she actually begged to have her picture taken again:

It was really cute.

I've watched Alice grow a lot over the past six months. Here's the first picture I took of her after she arrived home:

I look at this picture and think about the day I brought Alice home. She looks and acts like a whole new dog now-- gone is the scared, vacant look, and she's filled out nicely. She's much less jittery, far more adorably obnoxious, has learned many new tricks, and even a few bad habits.

Alice has made us both so incredibly happy, made our life so much more fun and joyful. She's definitely been a great life enhancement. Happy six-month, my little luck dragon!