An acquaintance is trying to re-home a cat he has had for six years, because his new apartment does not allow the number of cats he has and apparently this is the one to which he is least attached.
We all operate with different moral compasses and I’m not saying there aren’t situations in which people should choose to give up an animal they have made a commitment to, but for me at least, a new apartment (or house) in the same city is not one.
If this does not end well for the cat, I will have no choice but to think less of him.
Most every visit to Yelp for me is a reminder of the pettiness of human beings. Among the reviews that genuinely try to be actual reviews are the preening, self-promoting paeans about the superior taste, knowledge, or sophistication (which in these cases might better be spelled suffistication) of the reviewer. Next to these are the personal gripes, vindictive attacks on an establishment based on a bad experience with a server or a manager, fellow customer, or random guy in the parking lot selling drugs. Let us, by all means, get even with a nasty review on Yelp.
Of course, tastes vary and one man’s cup of cider is another man’s poison and rising tides do not lift the boats with holes in them and there is something satisfying about taking up a pen to avenge ourselves when we are slighted or wronged. But the effect of these vitriolic reviews is often the opposite of the intent; when a review is full of anger directed at a place that has been in business for years, particularly when the majority of the other reviews sing its praises, I find myself doubting the emotional maturity and common sense of the reviewer. Especially when he or she misspells every other word.
I missed the meteor shower last night, but I remember one from the late 1960’s that was probably more spectacular. I actually missed that one too. It was around 9 o’clock, I think, and the family was gathered around the television, as families used to do. (At the time people used to complain that television was killing the family because nobody talked anymore. Now, with everyone off in different rooms looking at their phones and tablets, we can be nostalgic about the lost intimacy of at least being in the same room doing a shared activity.)
It was summer, I think, because the windows and curtains were open. No air conditioning either. It was dark out, and that is what we noticed, because all of a sudden it wasn’t dark out. It was daylight. Not dusk or dawn daylight; it was full on, middle of the day, sun is shining, put on your sunscreen daylight.
WTF, we would have said had texting been invented, and rushed to the window to observe what was probably the end of all life as we knew it. The specter of nuclear annihilation hung over us in those days. We had “get under the desk where the radiation and shattering glass won’t get you” drills every month at school.
I arrived at the window just in time to see the light fading away, replaced by the regularly scheduled night. The next day the paper had a grainy black-and-white picture of the meteor, which had been visible from the midwest to the east coast and had exploded in the atmosphere, audibly in some locations. We were pleased it had turned out to be a meteor (so that’s what it was!) instead of a bomb.
Yesterday on HBO On Demand I watched a documentary from last year, “One Nation Under Dog”. It’s pretty harrowing. It deals first with fear, the very real dangers of vicious dogs running amok, then loss, the very real grief process that dog owners often feel when their pets’ too-brief lives come to an end, and finally betrayal, the very real problem of canine overpopulation and the necessary final solutions most of us would rather not think about.
Ed and Dolly, the resident greyhounds, were in the room with me and I noticed how well they were handling the dogs barking in the film. Getting them used to dog barking (as well as doorbell ringing) on television has taken a long time, but they are older now, both turning 10 this year, and with age comes wisdom I guess, or maybe just complacency.
Then the documentary gets to this section about euthanasia, the thing we don’t like to talk about or even think about going on at shelters even though it happens every day. After a screen caption warning that the next 3-4 minutes “might” be disturbing, I watch as more than a half-dozen dogs are crammed with no space between them into a metal box, the lid is closed, a hose attached, and an attendant opens a spigot that fills the box with gas. The box is reopened, and the camera closes in on the now-lifeless animals.Then more dogs, puppies this time, are placed in the same box, on top of the dead dogs, the lid is closed and the gas pumped in again. Next we see the hose unattached and a fork lift takes the metal box, now apparently a coffin but possibly just a reusable dumpster, away.
The thing is, these dogs don’t go quietly. They are not happy, or blissfully unaware. Perhaps if it is fear from being put in a dark, unfamiliar place, or maybe stress from the proximity of so many other dogs, or pain as the gas begins to work, but they all bark, first the dogs and then the puppies, and it’s the kind of barking, crying and whining no dog owner or decent person ever wants to hear. Anguished. Terrified. Then, it stops.
Ed, our male greyhound, sprang to his feet when the cries began and went to the television. He stretched up, putting his nose to the bottom of the screen, as high as he could reach. He began pacing, looking wildly around the room. When the crying ceased he came over and looked at me. He was trembling. When I petted him reassuringly, he was shedding copiously, as stressed greyhounds do. I took a look at Dolly to see if she had had any kind of reaction. She was laying down but she wasn’t asleep. She was staring vacantly, focused, as far as I could tell, on nothing. She looked haunted.
Please, people. Spay. Neuter. Adopt. Stop the holocaust.
There’s not enough Prozac in the world to make me a full time jazz singer. — Cyndi Lauper
Optimism is a political act. Those who benefit from the status quo are perfectly happy for us to think nothing is going to get any better. In fact, these days, cynicism is obedience. — Alex Steffen
Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see. — Arthur Schopenhauer
The wait is over! Here at last, my highly anticipated Oscar choices. As in past years, or maybe only past year, I only consider nominations from movies I have actually seen. Also, as in past years, I will not watch a minute of the ceremony live, but may search for clips on the internet if the press reports somebody gave a good acceptance speech or one of the skits was actually funny or something. I know, it’s my loss.
Nominees: Argo, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Les Miserables, Life of Pi, Lincoln
And the winner is: Lincoln. These were all good but Lincoln had that gravitas we pseudo-intellectuals think we ought to be looking for.
Nominees: Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln), Hugh Jackman (Les Miserables), Denzel Washington (Flight)
And the winner is: Daniel Day-Lewis. Wow, two awards in and we already have a trend.
Nominee: Quevenzhane´ Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild)
And the winner is: Quevenzhane´ Wallis. I’m embarrassed to have only seen one nominated actress this year so far. But at least little Quevenzhane´ is Oscah worthy. She was so natural I thought Beasts might be a documentary.
Nominees: Benh Zeitlin (Beasts of the Southern Wild), Ang Lee (Life of Pi), Steven Spielberg (Lincoln)
And the winner is: Ang Lee. Because I read the book, and concluded it was unfilmable, which was what everybody in Hollywood concluded too. So, when you make a good movie out of unfilmable material AND remain faithful to the original, you ought to get the award.
Nominees: Alan Arkin (Argo), Tommy Lee Jones (Lincoln)
And the award goes to: Tommy Lee Jones (Lincoln). He got it with his facial expressions alone. And a little help from the wig.
Nominees; Sally Field (Lincoln), Anne Hathaway (Les Miserables)
And the winner is: Sally Field. I would have given it to Anne Hathaway but during her solo the guy sitting in front of me crinkled his candy wrapper THE ENTIRE TIME, which took me out of the moment. So, I hope you are happy, guy in front of me, you cost Anne Hathaway an Oscah. Also, I read some snarky reviews about how Sally Field didn’t bring much to her role and frankly I thought she was just fine. So I’m thumbing my nose at certain reviewers as well. Because I liked her, I really liked her.
Nominees: Brave, The Pirates! Band of Misfits
And the winner is: Brave. Over the last couple of decades it seems to me animated movies have been as good or better as regular movies. This year the trend showed signs of letting up. Brave was a shade below past Pixar gems, and Pirates, from the great Aardman Animation Studio, was pretty dang lackluster if not downright embarrassing.
Nominees: The Avengers, Life of Pi
And the winner is: The Avengers. Yeah, I know it should probably do to Life of Pi but as a Joss Whedon fan I have to go with his treatment of the Marvel Gang, especially for his sensitive treatment of Loki in the hands of The Hulk.
ALL THE OTHER AWARDS
You pick, I need a nap.
Facebook Follies….this was posted on my Facebook feed, where I’m sure you too have seen a lot of half-baked ideas disguised as unassailable wisdom. Similar sentiments have been advanced for teachers, cops, firemen, and many other professions in which people seem to be underpaid even though they do noble work.
Let’s do some math. My figures come from a couple of minutes of internet searching and could easily be improved on but these are close enough for my nefarious purposes.
The ENTRY LEVEL (E-1) salary for military personnel with less than 4 months time in 2006 was $15,998. The TOTAL NUMBER of active personnel in 2010 was 1,448,697. Obviously, multiplying these numbers will give us a total salary number FAR BELOW the actual amount of compensation paid, because most members of the service are not in their first year and have considerably higher pay, especially officers, and there are a fair range of other factors including combat pay, housing allowances, and free medical and dental care, not to mention meals, which would make the actual number much higher. But for the purposes of this exercise we are going to use the very lowest number possible. Remember, the actual figure would be much, much higher.
Compensation for all of our soldiers at this lowest possible rate then, arrived at by multiplying the number of active military personnel by the entry level pay grade is $25,683,413,172 annually.
The NFL, in 2012, had 1,696 players making an average salary of $770,000. That multiplies out to $1,305,920,000, or roughly 4% of the military’s soldier’s annual, basic salary.
So if we were to pay soldiers at the NFL rate, it would cost the taxpayers $1,115,496,690,000 a year. A rough estimate of the amount of currency in circulation in the US at any given time is $925,000,000,000, which we see by simply comparing the numbers is not enough to pay military salaries for even one year. So, good luck with this campaign.
Perhaps the creator of this stirring, patriotic meme means that NFL player’s salaries ought to be reduced to the soldier’s level. If that’s the case, the math would totally work.
If you haven’t been to downtown Knoxville in the past few months, you haven’t been to this place.
We were disappointed when the Market Square Kitchen was tossed out by the owners of the Oliver Hotel, and then the renovation took such a long time, but we were assured that the Tupelo Honey Cafe would be worth the wait. Then, when the Asheville institution finally did open, we passed it over multiple times because, well, there was always a line of folks waiting to get in.
Today we finally took the plunge, after taking in the WDVX Blue Plate Special at the Knoxville Visitor’s Center, which feature local dulcimer player and singer Sarah Morgan, who we know slightly from the Knoxville Area Dulcimer Club, because there was, miracle of miracles, no line.
(Sarah, incidentally, is the 2012 National Mountain Dulcimer Champion, very nice, and still only a teen. If you go to WDVX’s Facebook page, you will see me in the audience for the show if you have any idea what I look like.)
Well, Tupelo is probably worth the wait. We had tea with puréed fruit in it, and biscuits that will be serious contenders should the Cafe choose to enter them in next year’s Biscuit Festival. Kim had breakfast, a sweet potato pancake with granola on top that was bigger than the plate it was served on. I had Cajun Catfish over a bed of goat cheese grits, with a layer of Sunspot Salsa on top. The pancake was good as well as substantial, and though I was unable to detect much in the way of Cajunism on the Catfish (possibly because there wasn’t any, but also possibly because my aging taste buds are not as finely tuned as once they were), the grits were satisfying and if the salsa had been any fresher I would have had to chop it myself.
What impressed me most was the wait staff. From the hostess to the waitress (and her trusty companion, perhaps in training) to random passing dishwashers and waiters and waitresses from other tables, everyone was positive, responsive, and by appearances and behavior, not unhappy to be there.