He came into the house in a box.

That’s how they sent them home - a box in the shape of a dog house, with some paper shavings from the kennel where he’d been with his siblings. I know I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating: he was the doggie in the window. I walked past the store after mailing my taxes, feeling low and broke, and there was this little fellow with the wolf-pup face. The store had the entire litter, taken off the hands of someone in the neighborhood. Perhaps they took them because they looked so distinctive, and not a month ever passed on a walk but someone asked: what breed? No breed. Every breed. Mutt. Canine mongrelus.

Took my wife to the store that night, and she fell in love, and home he came. She named him Jasper in the car, in the alley, and to this day she can’t quite say why.

Hold on. This sounds like an obituary. For heaven’s sake, no: it’s a birthday notice. If he was three months when I bought him on tax day, then his birthday was Sunday.

Seventeen years old.

And how did he spend it? The usual way. In the morning, great concern over food. Yes yes yes kibble, whatever, but scraps please. I never gave him scraps, so he doesn’t ask me. At most, when I’m eating alone, he keeps a respectful distance, alert but not expectant. With my wife - Soft Touch Beta - he is almost argumentative, as if she has taken his portion by some fast and mysterious action. After breakfast it’s denning in the dining room, where he will spend most of the day. Walk past , stop, give him a look - his head comes up and the ears go up, even though those magnificent ears don’t hear much these days. Since it was a weekend, he got a daytime walk, which is a treat, since the eyes don’t see much these days either. Going down the stairs in the morning is hard; he has to fix his gaze on the next step, and you can tell it’s half habit, half faith. But on his birthday he wanted to go south, and that meant going down a long, long flight of stairs. My wife said he took them at a trot.

Then they went west. It was hard going down a hill, but he wanted to do it - and promptly lost his footing and slid down on his butt. But he got right up. There are times you wonder if he’ll ever get up again; after a few hours on the dining room carpet, it takes work to stand, but when he’s outside he’s a different dog. He went in the woods and sniffed and explored, then headed west again, down the path along the creek, down to the part of town were we used to live, where we took our daily walks along the water. Then back. Up the long flight of stairs again. One at a time, but he did it. Up the hill to home.

My wife wonders if he’s in pain, and I’m sure he’s experiencing discomfort - the back legs are stiff, and he has adopted an almost shepherd stance in his old age. The pills help. I think I’ll double his dose from now on; checked with the vet, and she said it was okay. There’s long-term damage if you give them too much, but no one’s worried about this at his age. Anyway, if he was in pain, he wouldn’t want to walk, and if he is in pain and still wants to go, well, he’s made his choice. The nose still works, and it pulls him forward; it’s the thing that makes life interesting. Sound is a minor thing, sight a useful tool, but smell, ah, that’s poetry. That’s music. That’s the world we’ll never know, but we watch them, and imagine. We take them in the woods and let them go off the leash and follow the invisible hints that thread through the air. One day they find the scent that takes them a few steps further, and they never come back.

But not today. Today he comes back with snow on his nose, and you keep going, side by side. There was a time he strained at the leash; now you slow your pace to match his. Heading west.

We’re all heading west. It’s good to have company.


A perfect weekend, really - Friday night was spent in a warm room designing things, while watching movies that don’t merit full attention, either because you can tell what’s going on by listening, or because I’ve seen it before. The former was a classic example of a 40s / 50s nail-biter: it followed the difficulties put in the path of someone attempting to pull off a crime, and you’re rooting for him. Sort of. We’ll get to that on Wednesday. The other was - well, can you guess the decade?

Yes, “The Eyes of Laura Mars,” a perfect piece of late-70s decadence, at least as the concept was understood then. (Helmut Newton-style photoshoots with disco and fake blood.) It’s better than it should be, as they say, and if you’re in the mood it’s not bad, but best taken as a period piece.

By the way, if you know your New York, the background should tell you where it's shot. No mistaking the lollipop columns of the infamous Hartford Museum, aka 2 Columbus Circle, one of the many follies of Huntington Hartford. He was the heir to the A & P Grocery fortune, and managed to blow every penny of it.

Anyway, here’s what amused me: her car.


Let’s take that frame grab and boost it, shall we?



It’s my Pacer. It’s the car I had the year the movie came out. I miss that thing.

Saturday: dinner in Uptown with Mr. & Mrs. Giant Swede, or the Giant Swedes, if you please. I had a blackened swordfish, but it wasn’t that blackened; mildly libeled, at the most. Sunday I took Natalie to see . . .



I loved it. Quite an astonishing piece of animation. Looks nothing like the books, and reads nothing like the books, either. It couldn't - of the original two books on which it's based, one takes place only in Belgium. Read many reviews afterwards, and sas surprised at those who found it heartless, cold, and noisy. This review from the Detroit paper is typical of the pans:

A clamorous headache of a movie, it’s hard to say who the intended audience for “The Adventures of Tintin” might be.

Is it 60-year-olds who want to relive fond memories of a childhood hero? It’s hard to imagine today’s youth being taken with a youngster in knee-pants with a funny hair cut that looks plastered on.

Or is this a film for techno-geeks who want to see just how far director Steven Spielberg can push motion-capture animation? To answer that question, he can push it too far. “Tintin” is the sort of nonstop noise parade that quickly becomes exhausting rather than exciting.

Yes, it's hard to imagine today's youth having any sympathy or interest wit a character whose appearance is non-standard. Perhaps the intended audience miht be people who enjoy an adventure movie? It's possible.

If there's anything "pushed too far" in the movie it's not motion-capture animation. This was the first mo-cap I've seen where I wasn't thinking "man, this is creepy." A non-stop noise parade? No. Perhaps he went out for a long, long whiz during the quieter scenes. The pirate battle was worth the noise, the race through the city to get the scraps of paper completely unrealistic but your imagination got windburn in the process, and you didn't mind. There was even a moment when the characters approached the ancient city on camels, and the Williams score nudged you back a few decades, you got that Indy thrill - at least I did. And like the first Indiana Jones movie, it avoided contemporary references entirely - it belonged in the 30s. (The only anachronistic moment was Bianca Castafiore's reference to the "Third World." On the other hand, they got Biana Castafiore in there, which made me grin.)

The old-movie 30s style applies to the characters: Tintin wasn't some sullen, tortured, angry anti-establishment hero. Determined, uncomplicated, clever, optimistic - and he'll pick up a gun when he goes to the front door, and use it, too. Haddock was much, much drunker than the original story had him, but they borrowed that from the character's introduction in an earlier book. The trailers made me wonder whether they were playing him just for foolish comic relief, but he's the one with the arc. Tintin stays Tintin; Failure Haddock becomes Captain Haddock.


Today: some Matches. See you around! Note: RSS is a bit hosed, as I work on some kinks in this template. Ditto all those terribly important social network buttons.





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