Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Ginzo Bodie and Yak

Geoff has taken to calling our dogs by new names. Gonzo is Ginzo. Brodie is Bodey, and Jack is Yak. It is kind of weird, but they respond to him when he talks to them, even when bastardizing their names. They don't care. It's Geoff and they love the attention.

For the past couple of nights I've been walking the dogs. This should'nt come as a surprise at all, because dogs usually like to go for walks and responsible pet owners take them for walks.

Our dogs have been traditionally different.

Jack and Brodie have been perfectly happy not going for walks. They enjoy hanging out in the back yard, they get their run time, play time, puppy face fighting time in, and generally get their fill of the great outdoors just by chillin' in the crib. When we have taken them for walks, it has been geocaching, and it's like doggie nudist colony time -- no leashes, just naked running through the woods.

Gonzo requires a walk. On leash. He insists. And he won't leave me alone until I take him on one. Because I'm the only one who has been taking him frequently (and by that, I mean every couple of days when I can't stand him bothering me to go), I have become the only soul he nags.

He doesn't nag Jess, oh heavens no. Doug? Geoff? Forget about it. No nagging there.

It's always the same. I walk in the door and he begins the ritual. Barking first, mostly to be fed his dinner. So I give him that. For some reason, he doesn't ask anyone else to feed him. He just asks me. He finishes and I let him out to do his "dirty, sinful business" as the Reverend Tim Lovejoy might say. And about 20 minutes later, he stands next to me, whimpering pathetically.

Please take me out for a walk. Pleeeeeeaaaaasssssse!

He could have been outside for hours running and playing and jumping all day. But he wants that leash time.

So I give it to him. Like I said, usually every couple of days when I can't stand it anymore with the whining and the begging.

But I decided that for him and for me that he should get his daily stroll.

Monday I took him on an extensively long walk, much longer than I'd anticipated. I think it worked out to four miles. I should measure these things so I know. We walked up to the town property, with the huge hill and the lake out behind the old Episcopal Parsonage where Rev. Chuck used to live before he moved away. I followed his loop trail out to the woods to the Carriage trail, and let Gonzo off leash. He ran like a maniac. Constantly returning to me to make sure I was still there.

We then circled back around and walked DOWN the big huge hill with the Ethan Fromme tree (as Tanager calls it) and I envisioned what it will be like when the snow comes and they've mowed all the different meadow plants down. We walked home and he slept well. My legs burned.

Now, because Gonzo gets to go out for leash time, both Jack and Brodie are bothering me for their turn. Great.

So starting this past Sunday I've taken them each, one at a time, on pre-decided routes.

My Gonzo route takes us out the back door, past our little side street down the main road. We turn right, walk past the playground, turn right again, pass the fire house, pass the other end of our little side street, pass the Episcopal Church, turn right again, pass the Catholic Padre's parsonage, and then return to the back door. All told it is 1.2 miles.

If I am not feeling up to that long a walk, I turn at the fire house at the end of our little side street to cut home. That's .70 miles.

My Jack route takes us out the same door, turning right down our little side street, turning right again to pass the Episcopal Church, turning right again to pass the Padre and returning to our back door. That is .50 miles.

My Brodie route takes us out the back door, down our little side street to the end, turn around, come back. All told, that's .25 miles.

I'm noticing that evenings are a lot quieter if I do this for all three and not just Mr. Gonzo. They are mellow, they are tired, they rest. They sleep through the whole night, no pacing, no whining, no jingling of collars all night long. Well, Gonzo does still pace but he doesn't whine. He mostly paces downstairs, then up to our rooms to check on us, and then back to our bedroom to lay down in his spot again or off to the futon to sleep.

Getting into the habit of doing this (last night was only night three of my new ritual) is going to be difficult. I didn't get home last night until 7pm, so by the time I ate dinner and watched House it was rather late. The whining wouldn't stop, and I knew I had to do. And I'm glad I did it. Even though it was 9:50 by the time I wrapped up the walkings.

Once I get into the pattern of doing this, I guarantee you it will be too cold to WANT to do it and I'll be rather extra reluctant to go. Perhaps it will return to a Gonzo only walk on the Brodie course. Who knows. Only the snow knows.

I had observations from last night that I was going to write about but my neighbor was telling me in my driveway for the last 20 minutes about how my other neighbor's son is a registered sex offender and is in prison for 10 years for molesting 9 year old boys. Great. He won't have eligibility for parole at all, and after he's released he'll be on 30 years probation. He has a younger brother in my daughter's grade. I can't imagine what their family is going through.

So anyway -- that's it for this entry. I'll try and record the thoughts I had while on my walk. I made many profound observations that you absolutely are dying to know. I'm sure. Yeah right.

More later.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Arcade Again

Yesterday it was pouring. Doug was angry because he wanted to do fun outdoor activities. He wanted to drive out to Sturbridge and go the the Village and get some apples and enjoy west central Massachusetts, something we haven't done for a long time. But every time we want to go outside and play it starts to deluge. That has been our summer. That has been our lives.

So we ended up doing some housework, and Doug was cranky and angry. He went to the market and decided after he got back that we should go to Salisbury Beach.

It's pouring out though... I responded. I don't want to go walk the beach in the rain. And Geoff will jump in again. I am not in the mood to deal.

"No, there's more to do there. Let's go." So we left at about 1 and drove the 20 minutes over to the beach. Hardly anyone was there, but the rain had stopped, and we were indeed able to walk around at the beach. There were surfers there, and soon tons of people were showing up to walk the beach and look at the ocean from under the big nightclub that juts out over the beach and into the water. You can walk under the building almost like walking under a boardwalk. In big storms, the ocean comes right up into the street and so this building is protected by being way up high in the air.

We hit the arcade and I think between the four of us we spent probably $50.00, but it was a damn good time. They have too floors, downstairs is the more modern set up with all the virtual reality and ride-on games. And SkeeBall, of course. Upstairs there is air hockey, pool, and all the old school games like Super Mario Brothers, Galaga, Asteroids... And there's a gorgeous view from the second floor.

There weren't too many people there. We were there and a couple other families with little kids were there. Some local teens were there, and one of them started talking to Geoff and I heard him say "gimme a quarter." To whit I got into mother tiger mode and stepped in. He quickly slinked away and my laser eyes burned holes into the back of his ridiculously oversized South Pole sweatshirt.

Jackass. Don't hit my cub up for a quarter. Take your ass home and ask your mamma.

As for the norm, I took a ton and a half of pictures. And I'd do it again. The collection is up in Flickr. Go enjoy.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

"Do you feel faint or bloody?"

The title of today's blog comes from an experience I had on Tuesday night. As many of you know, I go give blood regularly. I have no tattoos, have not lived in Great Britian, have not exchanged sex for money, have not had sex with a man who has had sex with a man, I don't shoot illegal drugs into my veins... have not had sex in Great Britain with a man who has had sex with another man and received drugs or money for the exchange...

I'm probably one of very few people on this planet who meet all the stringent and overly sensitive/restrictive requirements the American Red Cross outlines for blood donations. I've blogged about this before. God help me if I ever go to get a tattoo.

Anyway, I went on Tuesday, after not having gone for more than six months. Normally I would give every 8 weeks the way we're allowed to. Because one never knows when someone may need my pint.

After I was done, I sat at the table to enjoy a water and chat with the Girl Scouts from our elementary school. These five fine young ladies were there helping with the blood drive to meet a badge requirement.

"Do you want a juice? Would you like some cookies?"

No, but I would like a nice cold water. Then the best question ever was asked of me by a little strawberry blonde lady.

"Do you feel faint or bloody?"


Are you kidding? Did you just say that? "What does that mean, Do I feel faint or bloody?"

"Well, are you going to pass out, and is your puncture wound leaking. Faint and bloody."

Makes sense.

"Uh, no. Neither. Thank you. Pass the cookies."

Turns out these girls are in sixth grade, so they are half way in age between my kids. And they knew Jessica. One of them started prattling on immediately about her. "I remember when she was in the sixth grade play and she wore this funny hat and a cape!"

Another said "And last year she was grandma" (I told you this was a role she'll never live down).

"She's friends with my sister. They're in the same grade. My sister says she's the smartest and funniest person on earth."

I find out who the siblings are, and I know each one of them personally. I smile and laugh and write down their names so I can tell Jess that she has a sixth grade younger sister admiration society.

One of them didn't have an older sibling. She is the older sister to one of the kids I chaperoned on a field trip to Plymouth Plantation last year. I told her that I adore her little sister and it was a sincere pleasure to meet the big sister...

She smiled and said "My sister thinks Geoffrey is funny." So they tell Geoffrey stories instead of Jess stories in this house.

Well, yeah. Don't we all think Geoff is funny. Don't we all.

This was a busy week in (a)musings land. Lots and lots going on at work, some good, some bad, some confusing. But nothing I will blog about in specifics because I know from the experience of good friends that work bloggage without blessing equals termination. Suffice to say, it wore me out. I can't hardly imagine how my boss G feels. I'm hoping she had an excellent night out with her husband tonight. To make up for an emotional week.

Geoff made it all the way to this past Wednesday without having to be sent to the principal's office.

That, my friends, is a record.

Geoff normally has landed in the principal's office (or vice principal, depending on who can take him) during the first full week of school. This time we made it almost (but not quite) a full month. He overheard things that he misunderstood, got mad, accused his teacher of being a "lousy" teacher (in front of the whole class) and got himself busted down to the office. From there, things got worse. He freaked out and refused to be compliant or apologize, and ran out of the building and into the bus circle while busses were coming in. So that got him banned from the bus for the day. Not cool. But he's better, has rounded up his emotions, doesn't feel badly for yelling at his teacher. He's kind of like "Maybe You're Right" by Barenaked Ladies or "Not ready to make nice" by Dixie Chicks. He's sorry but not sorry. It was a draining couple of days here dealing with him and his righteous anger.

It could be worse. I thank my lucky stars.

Jess has decided she is going to join the literary magazine, the chess club, and the German club. For a kid who wouldn't participate in any middle school activities, she is building up quite a CV at the high school level. I forsee needing an after school sitter for Geoff.

Gonzo is still Gonzo... barking at Brodie but dealing well with being here. He's a good boy. He likes to get in our bed in the middle of the night. I start him out on a nice warm pile of old blankets that I've set up as a dog bed but he's all "uh, no?!" and gets in our bed a few hours later. Usually a spot reserved for Jack, who doesn't seem to care that Gonzo is in his space so he plops his hefty and furry ass up in the bed too. Which means no room for me. I end up kicking them both out... and a few hours later they're back.


On that note, I feel my bed calling me names. Or calling my name. Not sure which. I'm heading to sleepyland. I'm off on a rocket ship...

Friday, September 22, 2006


One of our favorite shows is Avatar: The Last Airbender. Yes. I realize that I am almost 40 years old and one of my personal favorite things to watch is a kid's cartoon. I'm also a big fan of Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, but that's an entry to itself. The kids and I watch it every chance we get. And the third season started this week, with a bang. I'm so psyched to see what happens next.

My street cred just dropped about 100,000 points, didn't it? Anyway.

The other night, Jess and I wanted the dogs to come to us. So I assumed a martial arts-ish stance and moved my arms around, bringing my hands artfully towards me saying "Come to me, dogs." Two of them did. I said "I am a master fur bender."

Which cracked Jessica up beyond all imagination.

Street cred? Vanishing as I type. I know. I know.

So Jess and I talked about it on the porch, in the cold autumn air. What other forms of Fur Bending can there be? Well, you can Fur Bend your dogs away while you are trying to eat dinner. Or you can Fur Bend the big piles of dog hair into the dust pan with your sweeper when the beasts have shed enough hair to create a fourth (or fifth) dog.

There are many forms of Fur Bending. And I need to start doing a little of that immediately so I can get out the door and go to work. Dogs must be Fur Bent (bended?) into their kennels for the day.

This entry is short and sweet, and I am writing it mostly to say that the First Season of Avatar is now available on DVD.

I highly recommend renting it if you are somewhere looking for a video. Or, if you're ever at a loss for something to watch and you come across it.

I am waiting for mine to come in the mail. I pre-ordered it from Amazon, and it was released Tuesday so I'm all like "Where IS my DVD!?" Oh, and that sound was the last shred of any coolness I've ever had vanishing into the ether. I accept that. It is my fate and my position in life to embrace my inner nerd.

It is serial in design, so coming in on the middle can be confusing. Who are these kids? What's with that arrow on that guy's head? How'd that jerky Fire Kingdom kid get that huge scar across his eye. Why is his uncle such a goof ball and why are they in exile? What happens next! Before you know it, you're hooked. Like me. And you'll be bending things other than fire, air, water and earth.

So check it out -- if you enjoy animation, dramedy, overtly Buddhist/Asian themes applied to daily life and how one will make it through the bad times, and all kinds of good stuff... you'll thank me later.

Time to fur bend! More later, I promise -- I had a whole big thing to write about the Massachusetts Democratic Primary but it is moot now. And I gave blood Tuesday night and have some funny anecdotes from that which include Girl Scouts. Stay tuned, I'll get back to you.

Sunday, September 17, 2006


blamWe take a break from our current Guster obsession and turn our hearts and ears to the new Barenaked Ladies release, Barenaked Ladies Are Me. Silly name, great songs. I downloaded the deluxe super long version from iTunes (28 songs). There is a 15 song version available on their website for download if you are interested, and you can buy a CD at a record store.

For those of you not interested, sincere apologies for this entry. But I've waited for this release rather eagerly for over a year , listening to their podcasts, following the progression of laying down beds and putting on vocal layers, and sunburns on Ed's gorgeousness mixed into the middle. I've downloaded live versions from their website from last tour. And as one obsessed I must analyze and digest and pick what parts will become interwoven into my life's tapestry.

And as a fan of this journal, hopefully you'll read along with my thoughts on this topic. Even if you're not interested in the band, there are a few songs that may click with you. Anti-war folk will LOVE "Fun & Games" and you should download it from iTunes or wherever you get your downloads. You'll also love the honest "Maybe You're Right" which is one of their most powerful tracks ever.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

I will write a summation of what I think of each song. Agreements or disagreements from my three or four fellow BNL maniac fans (and you interlopers) are welcome over in the comments section.

I am not sure if this is even the right order that the tracks are supposed to be heard in, but it is the way they are organized on my PC by iTunes, so I hope it is an accurate in-order representation.

Here we go. Track by track, I give you the (a)musings (o)pinion on BLAM:

Another Spin
Hate it. I hated it the first time I heard it. I think the lyrics are lame. I don't like Kevin Hearn's singing on this song. It is over produced, the harmony layers are ... gross. I can't believe they kicked off the album with this song. Feh. (ha! did you think I'd immediately and unequivocally gush? NO! I'm honest about my feelings, even when it comes to BNL).

Bank Job
A classic, comedic, sweet little gem. The premise (bank robbers who botch a job because the bank is filled with nuns) would make a great novella or short movie. Ed's voice is beautiful, the lyrics are clever and sweet (the nuns were "like zebras. They had us confused). I love the instrumentation on this one, lots of little Kevin noises. It isn't way far off the version they played on tour last year, and it is one of my favorite BNL songs ever.

Could be better lyrically. I get where they're headed with it, but the song seems to lack clever hooks, or any cleverness at all. It is kind of a companion to the song Aluminum on Everything to Everyone. Kind of a follow up in some ways. Seems to be a theme with them lately, but this one fails to deliver. It is in a kind of jazzy rat-pack style with lots of harmony and quick lyrics sung by back-up singers. I just think it is missing something and that would be in the lyrics.

Down To Earth
Killer opening drum licks layered with crazy Kevin Keyboards. Lots of fun noises, weirdness, and an up beat almost movie soundtrack feel. "She's just so down to earth, via satellite."

I had high hopes for this. The long drawn out "Eeeeesssaaaaaayyyyy" harmonizing really bores me. The guitar work is nice, but as a single, this was a bad choice, a schnorer, and I don't care for it.

Everything Had Changed
Very Klezmer-ized, beautiful bow work on the strings by our boy Jim and tremendous accordion work from our boy Kevin. Wow. Almost like "Message in a Bottle" by the Police in theme. Lyrically it captures a lot of what old BNL had to offer -- loneliness, depression, but with an ounce of hope at the end. A hundred million castaways, looking for a home. Awesome vocal work by Steve. Good song.

Half a Heart
Best opening line in a long time. "Drunk on wine, I'm amazing." Again -- Ed's singing and voice are superb. It's a good song ... it's growing on me. I am not sure what the whole song is about, but it's catchy, it's got some interesting lyrics, and hell... best thing on the album so far after Bank Job.

A very beautiful piece, if not slightly repetitive at times (that's when I knew that I was, that's when I knew that I was... okay we get it). Follows in the "You will be waiting" kind of sound that we love from old BNL songs... Gorgeous vocal by Steve. Great song, very pretty.

I Can I Will I Do
A long time played live song, very glad to see it finally released. Steve's vocal is not so hot on this though. I found him breathy and kind of sloppy in what I suppose is supposed to be a sultry, sexy way, but I didn't feel that. I would have preferred a fresh, crisp, hard and clear vocal a la "What a Good Boy". It's a great song though, and I'm sure live it will continue to be tremendous.

Maybe Not
Repetitive, somewhat decent, excellent use of handclaps. A song focusing on a couple on the verge of a breakup written by guys who are happily married kind of lacks a little something real . Not that I want them to break up with their wives to get better songwriting... There are some great lines in here "pretty soon I'll be as good as gold, lamé."

Peterborough and the Kawarthas
For people outside of Canada, some research into where Peterborough and the Kawarthas are may come in handy. Think vacation land, think a nice little getaway, a cabin, woods, lakes, canoes, views, joy. And then think of a dad leaving his baby in order to go back to work or on tour or somewhere far away. And in his far away place he misses the family, and listens to the weather forecast imagining the rain there is heading his way. His longing is sweet and sad. And that should make for a great song. But. Not a big fan. I found this repetitive, repetitive, and ... redundant. Sung by Jim, his voice is sweet and pure, and Tyler voices in the weather report rather convincingly. But the sweet and weather doesn't save the song from just being kind of boring. It will be picked up by a tourism Canada board in the spring, I predict. You just watch.

Ironically, this one will be picked up by some major corporation to sell a product, and that will be very, very funny. Because the song continues in that BNL vein of post modern ennui that brought us Pinch Me. There is a lot of delicious sarcasm here. What I love about the band. The one thing I hate about this song is mention of "Billy Barty." Seems like they went fishing for something and thought it would be funny to reference a 70s little person actor. Not so much.

Rule the World With Love
"Couldn't happen to a better man, wouldn't happen with a better plan. While we were napping someone else began to rule the world with love." I think this is a slam on the Bush policies across the planet of "compassionate conservatism." Eventually ruling with an iron fist and force in the guise of "love." Song sounds good overall, and I prefer the live version.

Running out of Ink
Excellent keyboard opening, and a great song that spotlights how the band feels about being constantly compared to the "old" band. "This is what it takes to drive a man to drink." Kind of sums up a more grown up take on Box Set. And it's not just about how aging changes your songwriting, it also spotlights how relationships work their ways into songs and now everyone in town knows your dirty little secrets if you know a songwriter, echoing "In The Car," in some ways. A nice rocking tune with humorous lyrics, this is a keeper.

Kevin sings this piece of high-school time nostalgia of a young couple, with references to Dairy Queen Blizzards in his heart. It's okay. Background filler-ish kind of okay. Nothing really grabs me about this one, not sure if even a change of vocalists to Steve would save this one for me. Meh.

The New Sad
Everybody knows that happy is the new sad. It starts out powerfully, but then becomes... repetitive (are you detecting an opinion thread here with me yet?) I really don't care for this. It starts out so promising... and then. meh.

Kevin sings this one, about a magician looking to hook in a beautiful admirer. "He's a magician, hoping, wishing. But you're the one vanishing." This song works in a number of ways. Kevin's voice is very good, kind of creepy in a way, and I get a vision of a David Copperfield kind of guy eyeballing a chick in his Bellagio audience. It gets a bit repetitive towards the end where they just beat the refrain over and over. Aside from that, I like sound and feel of this one. Finally, a Kevin song that is really good.

Why Say Anything Nice?
"Why'd you put your dress shoes if you didn't come to dance?" Why say anything nice when you can say nothing at all. It's a great little rocking tune, a really good time, and falls into their political opinion and social commentary file folder of songs, falling in where Steve is often criticized for being critical towards the US government. Clever lyrics, great drum work, horns cranking hard, great use of harmonies that aren't over produced and layered in, and awesome keyboards from Kev. It should have been faster though. That's my only complaint here. This would be a great radio hit.

Filled with plays on words, including the title "I'm adrift without a snowflake" this is a very nice example of why I love Ed Robertson. His voice and his tone and the tongue in cheekness on this one really make me smile. Also, great guitar work with a nice banjo and mandolin laid in. Great song. "You're an abacus and my heart was counting on us." In some ways, this almost touches me as the counter-character to "Tonight is the night I fell asleep at the wheel," where the subject of that song is a bit aloof but coming home, and dies in an accident on the highway. I kind of feel this is the other person waiting, thinking to his or herself "your heart's got a heavy load, there's still a long way to go. Keep your eyes on the road" before any knowledge of the accident. I'm reading too much in, I'm sure. I like the violins at the end, and the kind of weird echoey sound... which feeds my read and sense of foreboding.

Angry People
The first time I heard this song I didn't like it. I didn't like the live version, and this is one instance where the studio album delivers some unexpected and enjoyable results. I read it as a character study in what "activism" does to people around the activist. And if he's going to be angry, he wants you on his side so he'll pull people "down" until they're Just Like Us! Steve has gotten into a lot of hot water for his political views and public voicing of them, and I think that this is his fun way of poking at people who think he is too angry all the time. Nicely done.

Bull In A China Shop
Probably one of my favorite songs off of this album. I'd heard it done live before, and love the concepts, especially "I'm a bottle of diet poison" and "I'm the reason I don't go out." The song cracks me up. "I can't hear a thing, cause I've stopped listening." Someone else I know reads this song as an indictment against George W. Bush and people of his ilk. Which I would too save for the last two lines which
make me think this is at face value a guy who just sucks at relationship and has made a wreck of his life. Not a president who has made a wreck of the country. That comes later on this album. Oh! as a matter of fact, it is the next one.

Fun & Games

I know a lot of people will and do love this song (Bill and Stace would LOVE this one, and I may send it to them). As for me, I skip over it. I've listened to it a number of times and to be honest I don't think (deep in my heart) that anyone in government thinks it is funny and a lark that soldiers die and continue to die in the Iraq war. It's not like playing Risk or Parcheesi and people sit in a room and laugh about limbs being blown off. I don't think it is a fair assessment of the gravity that comes with making a decision like what was made. It is like armchair quarterbacking with a CNN anchor telling us what to think instead of John Madden.

For the record, the band is entitled to their opinion, and because I love their right to free speech, I also exercise mine to free hearing and go on to the next one...

Maybe You're Right
I love that they paired these two songs together. "Fun & Games" sounds as if it was written in 2002, this one sounds as if it was written yesterday, with four years of contemplation between events. Steve asks us:

"Shall I take back
everything I've ever said
and live my whole life in silence instead?"

While Ed counters with

"Shall I take back
all my attacks,
all of my accusations?
All my mistrust,
we never discussed
anyone's reservations?"

And they soul search through the past few years of their open honesty and outright opposition to the war, and the war itself. It was over simplified, it was under thought. Or is it their reactions that were over simplified and under thought? The pronoun of "it" is used instead of "the war" or "my feelings" and before I know it, I'm not sure which they mean but I have an idea.

Then, on the top of everything as it layers and builds, Steve releases "Maybe you're right, maybe you're right but I don't think so." It builds to a hugely powerful crescendo with horns layering over one another, and when they do it live the band sings the horn parts.

The gravitas and honesty in this song is overwhelming to me, and it brings me to tears. Knowing the shitstorm that Steve brought on himself from his own fans, from people who adore him and respect him, brought him to this song.

And he still stands by what he believes.

But with more humility than the similarly inclined and opinionated Dixie Chicks' bitchy little "Not Ready To Make Nice" song. Stack the two up against one another, and tell me you don't prefer this song.

It's my favorite song on the album, especially when it is done live and they do the horn part at the end together. And even though I may disagree with things they've said, expressed and positions they've held, I will love Steve and Ed for sharing this and writing this amazing song.

I guarantee you will find me standing there singing along tearfully when they do it live. This is the gem of the album, this is the best song in the crop.

One and Only
An interesting study in different rhythms by Tyler Stewart on drums, with a rather curious lyric stream sung by Ed. Overall I'm not loving this one. Not sure if it is a song about a baby, a dog, or some guy who needs a clue. Will it grow on me? Not sure.

Something You'll Never Find
Awesome organ opening with Tyler kicking ass on the drums. Starts off strong but the lyrics are soft. Evokes a Beatles kind of feel, and it's not unlistenable but I wouldn't put it on my mp3 player if I was short on space. Great horns rocking in the back, by the way -- something BNL hasn't used a lot of in the past is horns. And they're well put to use here.

Sound of Your Voice
Originally sung by Kevin on tour last year, I'm incredibly glad that Steve took over the vocal for this. Under Kevin's vocal, the song was squishy and soft. Steve kicks its ass, and owns it. Very nicely done. What an excellent decision. I don't hate Kevin, I just ... prefer when he doesn't sing.

Take It Back
Ed sings this one, and it echoes "Maybe You're Right" but with an outright "If I've said anything to make you mad, I'll take it back." It could be a relationship song if it didn't outright reference airport security and measures our government has slapped down on our heads to protect us from plastic forks and ourselves. It is a great song -- very honest with an ongoing slice of frustration at the goings on in this post-post modern world.

What a Letdown
How ironic, some would say. Overall the album isn't really great and people are using this title to express their disappointment in it. This song however has decent lyrics, Ed does a great job with the vocals, you can hear him smirking through each line. Best line was "That might have been funny at twenty but I just turned 32." The drums are tremendous. But the harmonies are way too layered and kind of annoying on the refrains. I think it focuses on where they are now as older songwriters instead of college aged pranky songwriters. Too many weird Kevin noises in the back, trilly flutes and weird honking farty noises. Let the guitar solo speak for itself. Otherwise, it's a letdown.

Wind It Up
Well, this is the song that will be the the big video starring people who submitted air-guitar videos to be included in the final product, as some of my acquaintances on Barenaked dot net are learning. I tried to get good video of our Geoff to submit for inclusion, but my camera doesn't record for more than 90 seconds, and I didn't feel like stringing pieces together for one final product. The lyrics here are what we expect from a BNL song in a lot of ways. "I was a baby when I learned to suck but you have raised it to an art form" shines through. Also, "Throw your sticks and stones, throw your mobile phones" could be dangerous at a live show. If they thought having macaroni and cheese thrown at them hurt back in the day, imagine how it feels having cell phones pelt them in the head. Ending the album strong compared to the opening is a good move, although I would have done it the other way and put this one first, and Another Spin last.

On the CD on iTunes Another Spin is a bonus track. I think if you bought the CD in a record store, you'd get 13 tracks, and Quality and Another Spin are not included in that release. I don't know how they keep track of how things sell in order to to chart on Billboard or wherever they keep track of this, but I can't understand how the band is going to make an impact on charts by selling three different versions of the release, plus an acoustic version that was part of a pre-order package through the record label if you bought it back during the summer. And I think the acoustic version is available if you buy the album in its fourth version, a USB computer stick. Which I may get, just because I want the acoustic version and am kicking myself for not buying it in presale.

I recall when Everything To Everyone came out in 2003 and I initially didn't like it at all. I thought there was WAY too much of a Kevin Hearn influence on just about every song. But many of the songs on that release grew to be some of my favorites, just with patience and time and seeing them done live. Aluminum, Celebrity, Next Time, each of those songs are some of the best the band has ever released, but the first time I heard them I didn't necessarily believe that. Will I fall in love with songs like "One and Only" and "Something You'll Never Find" on this release? Not sure. I doubt it.

Still, the diamonds on this album, in my opinion, far outweigh the dogs. And in the end, if you're interested in the ones I point out as good (Bank Job, Maybe you're Right, Running out of Ink etc...) get them and give them a listen.

Alright. Let the flame comments commence! Or, let the agreements commence. You be the writer.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

All the fun that the law allows. All the fun but with half the meaning.

The past couple of days have been rather busy, and I haven't had time to blog. But I have been writing. I got the deluxe full-length edition of Barenaked Ladies Are Me, the new release from my favorite band and track by track I'm writing my thoughts and opinions. Why? Because you're dying to know what I think! I know you are. You're sitting at home going "OH! What does she think about Adrift! and how does she feel about Fun & Games!"

Soon enough, my pretties. You'll know. You'll know.

I should be done with that sometime this weekend. Getting to this computer to sit longer than five minutes is a literal impossibility. I wanted for us to always be a one-computer family. We may have to move to two now that Geoff and Jess are both doing so much with it. Grrr.

Anyway. Onward with a long awaited entry.

Speaking of Jess, I went to her school open house on Thursday night.

I felt like I was in high school. It was ... almost fun. I walked in the door and immediately ran into her friend C's mom and dad. We stood and chatted while figuring out where homeroom was. We ran into someone else and chatted in the hall. The bell rang, we went to our seats. I got Jess' schedule. They're on a seven day rotation (which confused me, but now I see how it goes...) and we were living through day one of the schedule.

First, English. I like her English teacher a lot. His syllabus looks like a college freshman intro to literature kind of class. He makes them write a lot. No more "book reports" but actual writing. Real, hard writing. Yes. Sweetness. Mwah ha ha. She shall excel in this class.

Second was geometry. Her only non-honors class. The teacher looks like he's about 19 but he's not. He's more like 20.

He was really nice and encouraging. I talked to him for a minute and he said Jess will get an easy A in his class, and that she's showing strengths at being a good peer leader with the other kids who are struggling. How she ended up in a non-honors math class is she missed by just a tiny bit. She was a B, B- math student last year. This is her year to make that up. So far, she is doing great.

Next was Theatre Arts. It is an elective, and she, of course, signed up for it immediately. And was accepted into it. Jess has a really good friend from middle school in this class with her. The two of them are totally "Drama IS Life!" and I love the mom and dad. We chatted for a bit, and I found out that out of 20 freshman who auditioned for the play, four got parts. Their daughter and my daughter among them. Cool!

At this point I noticed that I'd been with the same mom and dad for three classes. Casually I walked up to them and asked "what do we have next period?" The mom laughed and consulted the schedule.

Biology? Yup. Biology.

Four straight classes with the same girl... how funny is that? I hope she's nice and my daughter likes her. It would suck to spend half your day with someone who sucks. The parents seemed really nice. I introduced myself.

They wanted to know what Jess was into. Field hockey? Drama? Yes! Drama. Their daughter is also in drama, but didn't get a role in the fall play. Jess did, so they congratulated her through me... trying to figure out who she was.

I described her, and the mom said "oh! Grandma!" Yes. She played Grandma in the play last fall. Indeed. It will be her most remembered part, I'm afraid. They love her. They were very excited to meet me and talk about drama and the high school. And they can't wait to see what she does next for theatre. Talking to people, total strangers, about my kid in this way was really bizarre. I mean, they know her and like her acting, and they think she's great and funny...

Living vicariously through my daughter's skillset was interesting. Meeting new people and finding they were friendly and nice and ... I was having the time of my life. I can hope she only is doing the same.

Biology was really cool. Her teacher is awesome and smart and they do this huge portfolio of work almost like an art class. Which I think is awesome.

The lab is all filled with crazy science stuff and an emergency shower! Dude! an emergency shower! I wanted to take a picture of it. It has a huge pouring head thing, and a giant thing to pull on to make the water turn on.

At this point, my path diverged from the mom and dad I'd just met. No more classes together. Sadly. We walked down the hall together, chatting. The mom was talking about how it must be so weird to be in ninth grade... all the people walking around with their attitudes, fashion, boyfriends and girlfriends, shrieking cheerleaders, football players gearing up for Saturday's game... and our kids. Mixed in. The mom looked like she may have been a cheerleader, more so than a theatre geek. I can only imagine her daughter. And I doubt that if this mom and I were in the same grade in school in 1980 we'd be clicking it off like this. She was petite, sexy, fancy shoes and a beautiful sweater. I had on a golf shirt and jeans, and a bandana in my hair... with my guster sweatshirt dragging behind me because it was so damn hot in the building.

For her to kind of look at what the hallways might be filled with at 7:30am most days kind of sounded like what I would say... or what my daughter would think and feel.

I went to History, and totally loved her teacher. He was a riot -- and he talked about how they do a huge unit on Colonial Architecture. Score. Jess can roll out of bed and write about her own house. Boo-yah! So I chatted with him for a bit, and he was psyched to hear about the house and style.

Ha. Score.

I then headed to German, and found her teacher is out because Mrs. German Teacher is having a baby. He left documentation and a sign in sheet for email so he can send us stuff... and there was information on exchange programs that the school does. Jess wants to do it but you need two full years of German under your belt. She has two semesters. So between 10th and 11th grade she'll qualify. It is a six-week exchange during the summer. I didn't see anything about a full academic year exchange or a semester exchange, so I'll have to look into that at some point if she's still interested.

Last course of the day was Freshman Writing Lab. Yawn. I cannot believe they make the kids take this. It is all "this is how a comma works" and "watch out for subject verb agreement!" She had all that crap down pat in fourth grade. And every single stinking year they have to take a semester or full year worth of this. What the heck!

I asked the teacher why kids who don't NEED this class have to take this class (meaning my kid) when her first period class is academically designed to do what this class does, only better and more thoroughly. She said it is district policy that they don't test out of this class. They used to do that, and found kids tested well, but weren't... that good really. With keeping all the kids in a freshman writing lab, by 10th grade their MCAS tests are pretty great compared to the rest of the state, and that they'd make the kids take a semester every YEAR to reinforce these skills and keep them in the game. She has sophomores in the class, because they failed last year. She even had a junior last year who failed it twice.

So the district insists that everyone take and pass Freshman writing lab. End of conversation.

She also said that the class builds peer evaluation skills. She breaks them up into groups of four and each group has a great writer, a weak writer, and two in-the-middle writers. Experience shows that by the end of the year this process works best in getting the weaker ones stronger. The strong writers aren't going to get weaker -- but they build their skills as peer leaders, and learn a lot about helping others. She said that in the first two weeks of school Jess has already shown great skill in helping other students edit, revise, refine and polish their writing. It will be an easy A for her, even if it is academically unnecessary.

I got to read her three writing samples, and they were all A work, graded with comments and everything. The person in front of me was all C work, I noticed over the dad's shoulder.

Her next piece is a character study of someone who has "influenced her life" as the assignment reads. She chose her friend K, the one who had the brain bleed last summer. The one we go to concerts with. It made me cry and it was just bullet points. I was sitting there in her seat with her folder and her work reading the bullet points of K's relationship with Jess. "Will you go to college with me?" was one of her quotes.

I nearly lost it. K is at a different school this year and I know that in some ways Jess is missing her, and in other ways she's grown past her. But that she chose her to write about at this time really surprised me.

Heck, I thought it would be ME. I am that self centered. Or at least her theatre teacher from last year. Or Kinger. She could have written about Kinger. But she chose K, and it should be an interesting final product.

In some ways I am glad for her to have the opportunity of taking this class. In others, it bothers me that my child isn't getting another academic subject but is participating in a big social engineering experiment upon her back, her skills, and her time - the school as a whole benefits. Instead of upon the teacher's back, skills and time. I'd rather she have another subject, say... Archaeology, Creative Writing, Public Speaking... no.

It is important for her to build the skills of working on a team. But I feel that there is way WAY too much emphasis on groups and teams and not enough individual brain building. It bothers me. I remember in High School each subject had ONE group project a year pretty much. A presentation, poster board, that kind of thing. Now it seems like every week, every day, is group dynamics, group learning...

Eating up time she can be getting into another topic more deeply.

Anyway -- all told, I like our school district and so far have really liked what I've seen overall at the high school level. I hope it continues. My neighbor has an 11th grader who was just like Jess in 9th grade. At the end of last year she took an attitudinal dive, her As turned to Ds, and she's hating school and life and everyone.

Please, God. Don't let us go down that path.

Anyway. Gonzo wants to go play flickit and he's been whining at me for forty minutes now. Best go take him.

More later.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

BodyWorlds 2 at the MOS

We took naps yesterday. It was good to nap, even if mine was only for a half hour. After our naps, we went to Boston to go see the BodyWorlds2 exhibit at the Museum of Science. And Sean -- I would have called you and told you to meet us there, if I had your number. If you haven't gone yet, as a medical professional, I think you should.

We had been looking forward to seeing this for a while. I thought that perhaps Geoff wasn't going to be able to process a lot of what he'd see but I was wrong. I was pleased to see his reactions. Doug rented one of those self-guided tour recorded things, and he listened at just about every station there was. He made "beep-boop-beep-pshrwwwwww!" noises when dialing in the three-digit code and hitting enter, which some people around him found entertaining.

He spent a great deal of time in the pregnant lady/baby room. Very fascinated with the embryos (unborn thingies is what he called them) and was very interested in the woman who was 5 months pregnant when she died. And very angry that she was a smoker who died while pregnant. I didn't anticipate that response from him at all, or that he'd notice or care really.

And he was mad at exhibits that didn't have three-digit codes for him to listen to.

There has been a lot of controversy surrounding these presentations, from Chicago to Houston, NY to California. Is it ethical to take bodies and pose them like they are riding horses (equally dead and preserved) or slice them up in crazy formations (Drawer man, X-woman) and call it "art."

For the most part, the presentations were tastefully done and cool. The ones that sort of crossed the line were X-woman, who was posed with her ankles crossed and wrists crossed and she was cut up like a crazy fillet spreading in all directions, and Exploding Man, which was... a man's body which looked as if it had been exploded into a million pieces and each piece was flying away from the central explosion. I thought those were gross.

Drawer man was cool, because the cadaver/subject/body/dude was walking, with huge pieces of his thighs, arms, stomach, chest, and parts of his face pulled forward like drawers, to show you what was inside. Kind of neat.

All told, I didn't feel a visceral "oh my God this is wrong and gross" response the way some people do (if you google protest BodyWorks you'll find some really angry responses to the program). My favorite ones were the saggital subjects, cut from head to feet and arranged standing in strips moving from side to side -- really getting a good look inside the vertical presentation of the bodies was cool.

My least favorite part was listening to grown ups giggle about penises. Grow up, people. It's a friggin' penis. Get over it.

And I did dissect people with my eyes afterwards. Especially the couple in front of me at one point who found penises funny. He made fun of a rather small one. And at the next spot, she commented about how big this one was... and he said "well it's not that big. Really." He was being sort of defensive, and I then immediately knew how big his unit was. Making fun of one size, and then getting all defensive about his lady enjoying the site of the next size. And I walked around them the entire show wishing they'd go away because I wanted to stop imagining him in naked.

It was just wrong.

From an anatomy and physiology standpoint, the show is essential. Calling it "art," well. Not sure I would label it art. Anatomy and Physiology aren't subjective really; art is.

So Sean -- the museum has evening hours where your ticket gets you just into this show. It is like $16 bucks. You need to go. I highly recommend it.

As for the rest of you -- you make the call. If you're interested in what goes on inside, it is well worth the trip. If you find this stuff gross or are morally opposed to it, go and see if it changes your mind. Or don't, and just look at A&P textbooks when you need to see a pancreas.

Anyway -- this is getting posted late, I wanted to get this out earlier but. meh. You know me.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

What to do?

My sister is visiting. It is a beautiful day. We are trying to decide what to do for fun today now that we're waking up and getting caffeinated. Do we use today, which is 84 and sunny, for a trip to Portsmouth/Kittery/York? Do we use today to go indoors and see plastic bodies? Will Ronnie kill Linda if she goes to see BodyWorlds without him?

So much to consider.

Well, we're thinking things over and listening to music and playing fetch with the dogs, and life is good.

I just thought I'd let you in on the thought process.

I'm kind of inclined towards a trip to Maine today. Tomorrow is supposed to be chilly and overcast, so Boston and the MOS would be a better bet in my opinion.

What to do, what to do...

Yesterday my sister came to my office and got to meet my girl C and all the daily players in my life. That was awesome. C and Linda talked wedding stuff while I finished all my last minute this has to be done before you leave today-ness that usually creeps up on me around 2pm on Fridays.

Then we got home, went out to eat in Newburyport at this little Irish restaurant, told stories, ate food, and had a great time.

There was a parade in town today, and Geoff's entire cub scout den was marching in it, but he opted out this morning. He's a tad grumpy. One of his 2 goldfish died yesterday and he had a mini-breakdown on a park bench by Newburyport harbor last night.

This is how life goes.

Anyway -- there are more in-town activities today but I'm not sure how much we'll particpate in, if any at all. There's a bonfire at 8pm. Perhaps we'll stop at that on the way home.

In other news, I signed Geoff up for the flute yesterday and had a nice discussion with his music teacher. He said every year he gets about 6-10 boys interested in the flute. ALL the girls are interested in the flute. The boys do the flute for the first year, some for second, and then most move on to Saxaphone. He is very encouraging that Geoff will be able to play it and enjoy himself.

The only problem is I didn't read the documentation right and if I was to rent a flute from school, I missed the sign up deadline for that. So. I now have to come up with a flute before Monday.

Craigslist anyone?

And I guess that's it. More later.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Where we leave off we begin again

Hang tightly - I'll be right back. Famous last grammatically correct words. I meant to come back. Honest I did. I mean, I was just running out for a pack of smokes and a carton of milk, ya know? Really, baby. Honest. I did mean to come back... but something came up.

Anyway, enough silliness. An entry is due to you people because I promised. There are several things I must cover.

First... Steve Irwin.
In my last entry, I stated that I was pretty shocked and sad when I woke up incredibly early Monday morning and learned with coffee in hand that he was dead.

I mean, the guy was a maniac. He ... defies description. Really. He had a manic love for what he did, even if it was a bit more than a tad unconventional. I enjoyed his enthusiasm, his "Crikey! She's a beaut!" calls from the muddy slopes of an outback river as a croc was trapped and replanted somewhere farther away from people or at his zoo.

He built an empire. Starting off with a tiny little zoo of reptiles and crocs with his dad. A tiny little roadside sign to start with, and now a multi-million dollar business. Complete with camera crews who followed him step by step through his life. His wedding, the birth of his babies, his bizarre dancing baby trick in the croc pit (which got him in a lot of hot water) and finally, a camera crew was there to film his death.

Thing is, I always knew this guy would meet his end at the hands of nature. Whether a croc would bite him in half, or some other animal would bite him and antivenin wouldn't be administered in time, I knew deep in my soul that this man would die doing what he loved.

And he did.

When I heard the news, I thought of a Barenaked Ladies song that always made me smile. It is basically about working doing what you want to be doing for a living, not doing ... what has to be done to make money.

I never spent a single day in retail telling people what they want to hear
telling people anything to make a sale
Eating in the food court with the old and the bored

I think never is enough (yeah never is enough)
I never want to do that stuff

And he never had to do that stuff. Ever. And in the end, you want to know something... I admire that. Greatly. How many of us, honestly, if we died AT WORK would die in the middle of doing something that we loved.

Hats off to Mr. Crocodile Hunter. You lived the life that you wanted, and I wish your wife nothing but solace in your absence -- may she carry on doing good work for animals, educating people, and raising those cute wild babies you left behind. God speed, brother. God speed.

Second... Aquarium.
On Sunday when we went to get Gonzo we went to the Mystic Aquarium. It was hugely crowded with eighty billion people there. We pulled in the parking lot, and because my son has the same disease I have he was studying the license plates of each of the vehicles.

He noted "there seem to be a lot of New York plates here today."

"We'll try to have fun in spite of that," replied his father.

The aquarium was alright. It wasn't the BEST aquarium I've been to (cough, Shed Aquarium, Chicago, cough) but it was good. They had beluga whales and that was worth the price of admission. They were so bizarre and beautiful. At once, they looked like huge lumps of sugar cookie dough swimming back and forth, and they also looked like white, ghostly angels in the beautiful green-blue water. I wanted to fall in and be like them, swim like them... and my trance was broken by New Yorkers trying to take pictures.

Geoff tried climbing a rock wall there. The line was really short, and he got half way up where the wall juts forward and you have to really work to get past the jut, and he gave up. They give you two tries. And he wanted a third. I'm wondering if I shouldn't find him a place where he can actually work at this and accomplish it. Get to the top. Me too. It'd be fun, hauling my 200 plus pound fat ass up a fake rock wall. I keep telling myself it'd be fun. And it would be if I were 120 pounds. Sigh.

Anyway -- he enjoyed it and I could see a hunger. We'll try it again sometime.

The boy who went before him had one of these helicopter moms who stood under him and told him EXACTLY where to put his feet and kept yelling encouragement to him. I wanted to push her down and stuff my fist down her throat and say "Let him figure it out. Trust me. Later, you'll be thankful for it." He made it as far as Geoff did, with all her yelling. She was disappointed when he came down, and told him exactly what he did wrong.

I, better parent (ha!) on the other hand, stood silent on the first try. I told him on the second try to "Stay to the right, there are more foot and hand holds on that side" and then I shut my mouth. When he came down I said "That was amazing for a very first time ever up on one of these things. You should be so proud."

God knows, I was.

Anyway. After the aquarium when we were driving home with Gonzo dog, I saw a Nebraska plate on 495 in Lowell, MA. But Doug was going 100 or so, and my camera was in my bag, and it was night, and flash photography on the highway at night freaks other drivers out, so ... I didn't get the plate.

My mind did, but the Flickr Set didn't. Such is life.

Third... Musical Instruments.
In fourth grade, the children begin their adventures in musical instrument instruction. With all the Guster Geoff has been listening to, and the fact he's got a spirit of a drummer, I figured he'd go for the drums.


My son wants to play the Flute.

Yes he does.

And you know what, we're gonna let him. Yes we are. Laugh if you must. But when I asked him which instrument he thought was the best he said "Oh! The flute is so awesome!" And he was so into it. And I immediately thought of Leroi Moore of Dave Matthews Band and his kick ass work with the little silver tool, and old Stephen Page rocking out on "Who Needs Sleep" and even Jethro Tull... and I said "Okay. I'd rather you take drums, but if you want to try the flute, so be it. If you hate it, we'll see if we can switch."

God help him. I don't want him to be teased for his choice. I don't want to prevent him from picking the one thing he likes. I want to encourage him. And bitches, it is CERTAINLY much better than the damn trumpet or clarinet, where my ears will bleed nightly with him trying to play. Oy.

So he's going to sign up for flute. Pray for my son, that his classmates won't be total dicks. That he'll enjoy it. That it is, indeed, the right option for him.

Fourth... Gonzo Update
Well, in our last entry, Gonzo hated Brodie. Still does but not as violently. He tolerates her, he lets her near him. When he is hiding under this very desk, and she gets up in his grill, he growls. I've grabbed him, flipped him over, Alpha Dogged his throat with my fingers. He just hates her.

I'm feeding them at separate times. Which is working out. Also.... Gonzo will not eat their dog food. I keep their dish on the floor. He likes his raised up to about a foot and a half. So their dish sits there, full, and he won't bend over and snarf it up entirely.

Score. My dogs can still graze. Sweet.

He is doing a good job of listening, isn't nearly as barkey as I expected, and he's done a good job of barking at me when he is hungry (when I come home after 5pm he sure lets me know I'm late)... and when he needs to go pee.

The one bad thing is dude can jump our fence. Our deck out of the back door has a 3 ft fence on either side. Dude can just jump right over that bitch. It sucks. He's done it every day since he has been here. We are going to need to make some adjustments to that side of the deck to prevent this. Stupid escaping dog. Pisses me off.

Well. That's about it. I know there is more stuff, but damn if the Steelers aren't on, and it is opening day for football, and my ass needs to be downstairs. With my ketchup and Geoff and his terrible towel. Representin', yo. (sorry Nance).

I made Tots to go with our ketchup. And life is good.

More later. I promise.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

And then there were three

I am not 100% sure what we were thinking but, it is what it is. There are now three dogs in my house.

3 dogs a pond and a rockSaturday we drove down to Connecticut to get Gonzo from Aaron's mom and dad. It was a nice visit. He was very happy to see us.

He seemed to be looking for the dogs, and when Doug sat down he jumped up on the couch and cuddled with him.

This is something Aaron's dad says he's never done with him in the past 11 months or so that Gonzo's been with them. So he was amazed to see the affection.

We didn't bring the dogs with us because we didn't want them tied up all day at Aaron's parents' house while we went and had some fun beforehand. More on that later. The ride home was uneventful, filled with Guster and Geoff cuddling Gonzo while singing Mona Lisa. Very cute.

So we got home around 10pm, and unleashed the hounds...

and chaos ensued. Absolute, positive, unbridled chaos.

Jack was someone he already knew, so the two of them were cool as cats together. Brodie, on the other hand, was not well received.

There was biting, snarling, barking, growling... and all the while she's all like "Hi! How are you! I'm Brodie. Can I lick your eyeballs? That's my favorite thing to do!"

I unpacked some of his things, and when I picked up his food dish he went ballistic. He attacked Jack and Brodie, thinking I was going to feed him and that was HIS! Back Off! Go Away! MINE MINE MINE. So we Alpha Dogged him (grabbed by the throat and got in his face close) and he retreated.

I had never seen him do anything like that around food before, or even the thought of food. He was scary.

He hid under the dining table for the rest of the night, until it was bedtime. Then he found Geoff's bed, climbed up, and took a corner. He spent the night there. I didn't close the door or anything.

Monday morning dawned early. All I could hear was toenails clicking on the hardwood floor as two dogs paced the hallway in front of my bedroom. 6:50am? Sure, I'll get up on my day off and go on Dog Duty. I took them out, and set up food stations. One for Jack and Brodie, who have been used to grazing and eating whenever they feel like it... the other for Gonzo. Gonzo will eat an entire bag of dog food if you leave him unattended with it, so he gets fed about a cup in the morning, a cup in the afternoon. Aaron would prefer he eat less, but I'm noticing he does better if his belly is a little fuller and we are sure to get him out on a good walk.

The good thing is he won't eat unless his bowl is raised up a foot and a half or so. Jack and Brodie's dishes are flat on the floor, so he has all but ignored their food. That's good. It's when he gets fed his ration that I have to make sure the dogs are sequestered and apart. Good thing is, he inhales his food in about two seconds, so the process isn't long and drawn out.

They played in the yard, ate, ran, barked, peed on stuff, I brewed coffee and watched the wild rumpus. We sat down with my coffee and the morning news. I was incredibly shocked to hear of the death of Steve Irwin, and after the display of mad fangage the night before I actually thought of him and how he deals with the mad crocs. If he can do it, I can do it with a couple of dogs. And there he is, no more than 7 hours after my thoughts of him and his ability, and he's dead.

Wow. Sobering.

Doug woke up and was equally sad to hear the news of Irwin's death. We ate some breakfast and then we went for a long walk. One of our geocaches that we'd hidden had gone missing, according to a recent searcher. We confirmed that it was indeed gone, and took the dogs on a nice 2 mile circuit hike through that particular park. They also enjoyed a good swim, Gonzo and Jack out in the water while Brodie lost her little puppy mind trying to figure out how to get to them.

All dogs slept well last night. Gonzo is still baring his teeth at Brodie, especially if she comes close to his nose or paws. He's not liking that, but at least he's not eating her head.

And damnit if she just don't care none. Seriously. Dog just comes right back in for more. It so doesn't phase her. No fear.

Gonzo figured out last night how to jump our fence off the deck and run off, so he is not allowed up on the deck alone. We do not want to resort to leashing him when he goes out in the yard so this is a behavior we're going to have to change. Jess was out there throwing the tennis ball, and Jack and Brodie were all about going to get it. He sat on the deck, shifty eyed, waiting. And then he went.

So yeah. Fence? Taller. ASAP.

All told, when he is with just me he seems really happy. Same with Doug. Same with Jess. Same with Geoff. He is very used to being an only child. And that's all got to change. Hence, he does seem a bit mournful and sad. He's not running and playing like I always remembered him in Maine. But hopefully he'll come 'round and be the happy old dog I remember.

I have to go make dinner. I'll write again later on. I want to get this posted before we eat.

Hang tightly - I'll be right back.