Wednesday, July 31, 2013

In Defense, it WAS an awfully nice sofa

I should warn those of a delicate constitution that there may be a bit of unsavory backstory in today's column.  I'll try to keep it as classy as possible...

So, many, many years ago - back when the internet was just beginning and places of employment generally speaking didn't have any sort of HR policy regarding internet usage - all sorts of things that are unthinkable now just sort of went on without anybody being too bothered about it.

Case in point - 

Back at the time I worked for an organization that I'm going to go ahead and not identify for what will shortly be obvious reasons.  My immediate manager at the time - similarly veiled in secrecy for similar reasons - was bored one day and started playing with the newly created AOL login that he had just set up.

*Note for the young, to whom this probably all seems incomprehensively bewildering - Internet Service Providers (ISP's to the tech-savvy) were a whole different kettle of fish back then.  99% of the people who even HAD access to the internet did so via America OnLine - who sent out CD-roms (themselves a strange new item- earlier they used Floppy Discs - which by that point were no longer floppy) in the mail at a rate of approximately 4 billion a day to every postal customer in the Country. 

Being of a certain persuasion, and having little to no reason not to, one thing sort of led to another and another manager in a different department shortly thereafter received an interoffice e-mail featuring a photo of hardcore gay pornography with the caption 'Isn't that a fabulous sofa?'

   Hard-core man on man action not pictured

She, being also of a certain persuasion (and not particularly prone to being shocked by such things) responded by tracking down her own graphic image of two ladies engaged in their personal business with the caption 'It needs a lamp like this to go with it'

I'm also not going to picture that.
He responded with hot group action and a lovely matching end table.  She followed with trans-action and a really quite nice coffee table, and so on and so forth until by the end of the day they had assembled what one must admit was actually a quite stylish living room set without ever once mentioning or acknowledging the extra-curricular living room activities also pictured.
This kind of throws the day a co-worker and I spent far too long looking on line for a picture of Rene Auberjonois dressed as a porkchop* into perspective, now doesn't it.

*No, I don't remember why we wanted such a thing, but it turns out that no such photo exists.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

I blame you, Morgan Freeman

Just recently I've become unreasonably irritated by the expression 'my Bucket List'

For the Yurt-Dwelling readership (and honestly guys, try to do a better job keeping up with stuff, huh?) the reference is to a movie by the same name which starred Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman as two older gentleman who may or may not have been dying of something more tangible than 'time' but I'm not really sure because I never got around to seeing it.

The upshot of the movie is that they wrote down a list of all the ridiculous things they want to do while they're still alive (i.e. before they 'kick the bucket', hence - Bucket List)

It's basically like you thought to yourself, 'Hey, self, that Tim McGraw song is pretty good.  I wish I could watch it dragged out to somewhere around the 90 minute mark.'

What it spawned instead is an entire culture of folks who feel the need to compile their own 'bucket lists', which is harmless enough in and of itself, except it really gives the impression that we as a people are so desperate to reach the Giant Otter of Death that we're actively doing everything that we can to eliminate all obstacles between it and ourselves.

Must...reach..death..faster!  Quickly, get me a French language course and a knife-wielding prostitute!!

In this sense, the film 'The Bucket List' has more than a few idiomatic crimes to answer for.*

*Although not nearly so many as either 'The Perfect Storm', or 'Swingers'

And if any of you artistic types would like to design a 'Death is a Giant Otter' image I will cheerfully have it printed on a t-shirt.  And a tea cozy.  And possibly have it tattooed in the small of my back.

Monday, July 29, 2013

The more embarrassing Faces of Death...

I know we don't like to think about it, but it remains an undeniable fact that we are all, at some point, going to die.

Except of course for Neil Diamond, who will like forever both through his music and through a skillful blend of cybernetic enhancements.

Regardless, what concerns me most about the whole issue is not the thought of dying itself, but rather a more general concern that the death itself not be something ridiculous.  The last thing you want is folk tittering at your funeral.

Yes, I just said tittering.

Here are just a few examples of the many, many embarrassing way that I'd like to not meet my final end...

Not everyone can pull off Adorable and Badass at the same time

Yes.  There is such a thing as a Giant Otter- I discovered this while perusing Otter-related websites in preparation for a previous column.  Now, I admit to having mixed feelings on this one, because I'm pretty sure that the death itself would be absolutely adorable.  That said, I'd just as soon not have everyone's first reaction to my death be 'Awwwww.... look at his cute little blood-soaked hands!  They're so human!'


In the world of air travel, there is a thing called 'Blue Ice'.  This is - to not put too delicate an edge on it - a frozen mixture of disinfectant and other people's dookie.

Now, the airline industry is quick to point out that they are actually forbidden from dumping this in mid-flight, and indeed there is no mechanism to do so.  HOWEVER... they also acknowledge that there have been at least 27 documented incidents in the last few decades of Blue Ice striking the Earth from accidental dislodge - Which sounds an awful lot like a euphemism for the very process that created the need to have blue ice in the first place.

So, yes.  Your chances of dying from being hit by the stuff is roughly the same as winning the lottery.  But all things being equal, I'd rather win the lottery.  If there are three words that I would like to not appear in my Eulogy, 'Other People's Stool' would be them.


As a gesture of respect for the man, I'll leave you to Google that one on your own if you really want to know.

This.   Guy.   Rules.

Cosplay - for those who are too cool to be familiar with it - is basically a term that was entirely coined in order for adults to justify feeling ok about their desire to play let's pretend in neat costumes.

When we were kids of course we just went ahead and did it without worrying about what the people who saw your Facebook photos might think.  As we get older, apparently it needs a niche brand in order for us to feel OK about doing it.

Now, I want to make perfectly clear - I am all for Cosplay, whatever you want to call it.  As more than a few pictures from Doctor Who conventions of the past will attest (and I made a ROCKIN' Sabalom Glitz, for the record)

I'd just like to avoid the words 'Found Dead in Batman Costume' to be part of my obituary.  It opens up too many questions.


Unless it's a nuclear bomb and I'm saving the planet of course.

Here's the back story to this one.  The other morning on Marketplace they had a brief discussion of how the UK was sending out an appeal for people to be a bit more careful and commonsense with handcuffs.

Apparently since the onset of that 50 Shades of Grey phenomenon their Emergency services have seen a jump in calls to free someone inadvertently handcuffed to something inconvenient has risen by some insanely ridiculous percentage*

*No, I don't really understand why they were talking about it on Marketplace either.

Being British, the PSA is mostly along the lines of 'For the love of God, check if you have the keys handy first, there's a good chap'

What this makes me think however is that it's just a matter of time until somebody let's somebody else shackle em up for a nice night of whatever-you're-into-I'm-not-judging-you, only to have the non-shackled party suddenly have a massive aneurysm and die, leaving the shackled party to slowly die of dehydration and embarrassment.

That's gonna be some fun small talk at the wake, now isn't it.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Vizsla Flashback - Some F.A.Q.s about Cryptozoology

In tribute to yesterday's unfortunate incident regarding Danny Bonaduce and the Wendigo (who will totally not stop calling him now. This is what you get when you make bad choices) here is this week's Vizsla Flashback -

Some F.A.Q.s about Cryptozoology- first published May 2nd, 2013

As has been mentioned previously, Vizsla = Knowledge.

So when I threw out the term Cryptozoology the other day I suspected that it might require some followup.

So, here are some Cryptozoology F.A.Q.s, just so that we're all gnawing on the same bone.  (OK, YES, that sounded wrong.  It's a time honored dog expression.  Let's try to behave like adults.)

Q: It's that stuff that gives you intestinal disease and diarrhea, isn't it?

A:  No, you're thinking of Cryptosporidium.  That's a genus of protozoans.  Totally different.

Q: Proto-what-now?

A: Protozoans.  They're a group of unicellular... oh look, would it kill you to do a little of the research on your own?

Q:  I was just asking.  Jeez.

A:  That's not a question at all.  You should totally not have been allowed to have a 'Q' in front of that.  That was a defensive excuse.  It should have begun with a D(e).

D(e):  Bite me.

A:  And that was a command form verb... look, can we just get back on topic please?

D(e):  Fine.  Whatever.

Q:  What is Cryptozoology again?

A:  Why I'm glad you asked!

Q:  That wasn't an answer, you should not have started with an 'A'

A:  Do NOT make me crap on your bed.

D(e): Just sayin'

A:  Ahem.  Cryptozoology is the study of mythological animals, or if you're feeling generous...

I(nterruption): Which you are apparently not.

A: Shut up.

A:  Ahem.  As I was saying.  If you're feeling generous you could define it as the study of animals whose existence has not been proven.

Q:  Like The Abominable Snowman?

A:  An excellent example!  Also known in Tibetan as the 'Yeh-tah', or 'Yeti' as we say it.

Q:  Is that the same thing as Bigfoot?

A:  No, Bigfoot is a North American phenomenon.  Also known as Sasquatch.  Yeti are found (theoretically) in and around Tibet.  One lives in the woods, the other in the snowy mountains.

Q:  So where does the Wendigo fit in?

A:  The Wendigo was just something people made up to explain the disappearance of corpses after they'd resorted to cannibalism so that the kids didn't ask questions.

Q:  ...

A:  What?


A:  Yup.  When Timmy, over a breakfast of freshly grilled Grandpa, asked where Grandpa might have gone during the night and why wasn't he here to share in this unexpected if slightly stringy bounty, all the parents had to say was that the Wendigo had gotten him.

Q:  ...


Q:  That's a little dark for a family blog from a dog, don't you think?

A:  Hey, truth is what it is buddy.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

I'm not sure how I feel about Sharknado

On the off chance that you live in a yurt and spoke to no one in  the last few months, I'll begin with the assumption that you may not have heard about the recent Sy-Fy hit film- 'Sharknado'

First of all - YES, 'Sy-Fy' is an entirely irritating variant on the previous 'Sci-Fi' title of the network, and reeks of 'trying to be hip and cool and justify why a non small percentage of their programming isn't really science-fiction in any way.

It's the marketing equivalent of when your Dad starts calling you 'Bro' in an attempt to seem with-it.

But these are the declining standards of the age we live in, and the DO still show Warehouse 13, so I just accepted it and moved on with life.  See kids?  This is how evil happens.

Obviously what they really want to be viewed as is the primary home for Genre/Cult television, but you can't really title a network either of those because "Genre TV" sounds boring and "CulTV" sounds a bit like you may tune in to a goat sacrifice*

*Although, now I type it out, CulTV totally does makes its own logo... I may have to establish an internet video platform...


One of SyFy's more profitable little lines of original programming for the last decade or so is cranking out ridiculous monster/catastrophe movies as quickly as they can get some CGI and Barry Williams in the same room.  And so we've had endless variations of 'Music/TV Icon from the 70s/80s/90s encounters Sasquatch/Manticore/giant genital lice' cranked out at roughly the level of quality that one expects of that sort of thing for quite some time. 

Then eventually the inevitable monster team ups started and you wound up with grudge matches along the lines of 'Mega Shark versus Giant Octopus', 'Gargoyles versus Shaker Furniture', and 'Tiffany versus Debbie Gibson'

And this was deemed more or less acceptable

Running alongside these were the natural catastrophe ones (If one stretches the definition of 'natural' a bit.  And by a bit I mean to the breaking point) where we saw such things as 'Stonehenge is an alien device that will destroy the planet unless that guy from Supernatural can stop it!'*

*No, not that guy.  No, not that one either.  The third one.  Yeah, him.

Toss in a few reversals of the earths magnetic core, the odd giant asteroid strike, and a healthy dose of global warming melts greenland* and that's more or less their natural disaster film template

*Actually, all kidding aside this is really happening and it's something that we should probably be concerned about.   When we're done watching Danny from the Partridge family beat off a Wendigo.  No, not like that!  I just meant drive away.  Honestly, you people.

Which brings us to their latest blockbuster.  Sharknado.

That's right.  They've figured out a way to combine the monster AND the catastrophe tropes into one big ridiculous, kind of awesome, visual.  A tornado that's made up of sharks.  Flying toward your town. (assuming you live in a smallish plains town populated by people that once guest cameo-d on Family Ties.)

Now, I know that you're first response is 'Hey, isn't that ripped off wholesale from 'Planet of the Dead'?'  Yes.  Yes it is.  Not a huge deal, but it's nice to at least acknowledge the source material.

What scares my about this is that I can't help but feel that we're rapidly approaching a critical mass where SyFy will somehow unlock the formula for making a made-for-TV movie SO cheesy that it reaches a critical mass and collapses in upon itself in a gravity whirlpool from which not even gravity, light, or the cast of It's A Living can escape.

On the other hand, Felicia Day apparently thought it was awesome and I don't know that I'm physically capable of disagreeing with her without pulling something.

So there you have it - the genie is out of the bottle.  Even as I type this I have discovered that we now also have Sharkano and Sharkalanche to look forward to.  As well as.... hold on to that last remnant of your soul for this one.... Sharknado 2: After Sharks.

It's end of days people.

Vizsla out, bro

Friday, July 26, 2013

A Confluence of Otters


First off, it should be observed that 'A Confluence of Otters' is totally what the final book in that Game of Thrones series is called.  It will come in sequence right after 'A Buttload of Unicorns', which I have already pledged to the internet to write myself should George R. R. Martin die before getting around to it.

The other thing to observe about the confluence of otters is that that is not the collective noun.  Upon doing a little research the internet tells me that there are in fact four acceptable terms for a group of otters; A Family, A Raft, A Bevy, or A Romp.  And while normally my heart would belong to the word Bevy, I have to go with 'A Romp of Otters' as the preferred term, because that is f*cking adorable. 

Seriously.  A Romp of Otters.

Doesn't just reading that make you want to to cartwheels through a field of giant marshmallows?

Just me?

OK, moving on.

Now, I'm not particularly superstitious - I have no trouble walking under ladders and the number 13 doesn't particularly bother me.  However, I do kind of think that when the same reasonably obscure thing comes up repeatedly in entirely unrelated contexts it might be worth taking note of the fact.

For instance, say you should be cleaning out your basement and find a bottle of Brandy that you didn't know you owned, only to find 15 minutes later that you also own a long-forgotten brandy snifter.  I think you and I both know what the universe is telling you to do there, and it requires a smoking jacket and a leather chair.

Not that that has ever happened...  


A few days ago, while working on an event that I'm helping to organize, I was presented with the (probably facetious*) suggestion that we should have live otters in attendance.

*No, you're going to have to google it

I was unable to make the live otter experience* happen, sadly enough.

*Best.  Band.  Name.  Ever.

But then the following day I heard the NPR report about Hellbender Salamanders (the tale of which I recounted here) and how they are called 'Snot Otters' by the locals.  

And I thought to myself, 'Self,' I thought, 'What a charming coincidence that Otters should come up in casual discourse twice in 24 hours when I haven't thought about them in years otherwise.

Well then, last night at a gathering of friends that I hadn't seen in a fair while, someone brought up the subject of otters in a completely unrelated discussion.  And I thought 'Holy crap, self, that's three otters in two days!  That's enough to call them a Romp!'*

*OK, I didn't actually think that part since I only just a moment ago learned that they were called that.  Still seems notable though.

So at this point I have no choice but to conclude that the universe is trying to tell me something otter-related.  But in direct contrast to the brandy incident in which my instructions were clear, I'm not entirely sure what I'm intended to do with the information.
Should I float down a river on my back with my adorable human looking hands clasped over my belly?

Should I beware of a strange man breaking open clams with a rock?

Is it an oblique reminder to remember to enjoy simple pleasures?

Help me out with a little clarity here universe.

In the interim, here's a video of an otter playing with a rock.*

*Careful - this may actual reach a toxic level of adorable.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

So THAT's why the Hellbender Salamander is always in the bathroom...

Yesterday I was listening to MPR (pretentious dog flag - I should create a tag for that...) and heard a news item about the Hellbender Salamander, a subspecies known as Cryptobranchidae that grows to over two feet in length.

What immediately caught my attention about the piece was a casual mention of the fact that the Hellbender Salamander is more commonly know by its nickname... wait for it...

The Snot Otter.

Which officially edges out 'Carlos Danger' for this weeks Best.  Nickname.  EVER.*

*As a curious coincidence, they are also both popular nicknames for 17 year old boys to give to their genitalia...

The actual point of the news article - which was, surprisingly, interesting enough to distract me from the phrase 'Snot Otter' - was that environmental biologists have fairly recently discovered a way to track the presence of various species through DNA evidence in local ground water.

I know, right??

It all started with an effort to prove the existence of bullfrogs in a particular pond.  Scientist took a water sample from the pond, analyzed it for DNA from that species of Bullfrog, found said DNA and proclaimed, 'Yup, they's bullfrogs heyah'.

This segued into a discussion of hos the technology had been adapted to identify the existence of the Hellbender Salamander in areas of the Ozarks where it was thought to have died out - at which point I lost track of the discussion because I had just heard the words 'Snot Otter' and my brain needed a moment to process that much joy.

When I regrouped enough to rejoin the discussion, they were talking about how it was a particularly good time to identify the Snot Otter, as it was their mating season and...

You're going to need to take a moment to prepare for this...


Just take a moment...

To quote NPR directly - 'In mating season, the Hellbender Salamander sloughs off a large amount of DNA'

I don't know about you, but that is not what I called it back in high school...

And so, world, allow me to gift you with this new euphemism for your personal gentleman time-

'Tracking the Snot Otter'

You're welcome, Planet.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The ones they didn't mention at the guidance office

In case it had escaped your attention, people do an awful lot of strange things for money.*

*No, I'm not talking about prostitutes, Knife-wielding language scholars or otherwise.  Let's try to keep our minds out of the gutter people.

Now, to be honest all so called 'jobs' look equally bewildering from the Vizsla point of view.  Isn't is simpler to just wait for your person to come home, feed you, and then go back to napping?  Seriously human beings, why do you have to over complicate everything?

And sure, while many of you are dentists, lawyers or security guards, there also exists a small but thriving portion of society who do things like...

The person who approves movies to be shown on airlines in order to make sure they don't accidentally show anything that has a plane crash in it

This would be one of those jobs that in which you're at your best when no one knows your there.  The moment the public becomes aware that it was your job to do this you can pretty much guarantee that something horrible has happened and this is about to not be your job anymore.

The Guy/Gal that designs new and exciting marshmallows for children's breakfast cereal

I actually knew a woman whose father held this job.  I believe his business cards listed him as 'Food Technician'.  At one point he received a prestigious award for coming up with a particularly good one.  Take a moment with that.  A small subset of our community went out of their way to celebrate the creation of an exciting new marshmallow. 

and on a similar note-

The woman who came up with the name 'Go-Gurt'

I say woman because I actually know for a fact that it was.  And sure, this wasn't the entirety of her job and her title was probably something to do with Marketing or P.R. or something, but the fact remains that at one point she received a major advertising award solely for having come up with the word, which means that that was probably the high point of her career.  That has to be a depressing thing to live with on some level.

That print ad model whose face says 'I have constipation'

Seriously.  How many times can you be hired to be the 'before' photo in the anti-bloating formula ad before it starts to chip away at your self esteem?

Pet Embalmer

This is a real thing.  And if you do a quick internet search on the topic you find sites that list things like THIS on their home page -

After embalming your pet is washed and gently dried with a towel or dryer.

Your pet is then brushed or combed and dressed
(if desired) and placed in it's casket.

I don't know where to even begin with this one, apart from mentioning that after I've passed on I promise you that I'm not going to care how gently you are drying me or what you are using to do so.  Also please take a moment to note that 'Pet Casket Maker' is also apparently a real thing.  I bet that business card makes you a real hit at the Applebees win-a-lunch fishbowl contest.

So if you have not yet found your niche in your professional life, take heart.  Perhaps you might want to try your hand making pet caskets.

Keep reaching for that rainbow.

-Vizsla out 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Newton's lesser known laws

 "I'm more than just a pretty face"

A while back I made a casual reference to Newtons 2nd Law of Thermodynamics (Entropy Increases, as if you didn't know) when it occured to me that there was so much more to old Isaac than just that one.

Sure, we're all up to speed with Newton's thoughts on Motion, Optics, Gravitation, all that disproving the Geocentric model of the universe, blah, blah, blah.

But were you familiar with these, his lesser known laws?

1. You Can Never Have Too Many Dinner Rolls

Isaac was a huge fan of bread products, and found nothing to be more disappointing that when one reached into the bread basket to get another delicious Pilsbury crescent roll only to find that that bastard Leibniz had just taken the last one.  Plus, he observed while strolling one sunny night along the banks of the Cam - They reheate so welle.

2. Ain't nobody got time for that

Sweet Brown, noted scholar of Newtonian Principles and budding mathematician, recently made note somewhat infamously of the bicentennial of this, one of Sir Isaac Newton's most applicable laws.

3. Robert Hooke is a punk ass bitch

To be scrupulously fair, it's not clear that he ever successfully proved this one through repeatable scientific study.  He certainly never published such a thing.

4. If I am rubber and you are glue, then the angle of incidence is shown to be equal to the angle of refraction relative to the 'ooo, snap' factor of the invective hurled.

Isaac got his ass kicked a lot as a youth.

5.  Get thyself to the master of physic with haste when the passing of water brings fire to your girthy loins

Still sound advice.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Some of your less successful pickup lines

I was musing earlier (because Vizslas love a good muse.  Especially Calliope.*) about Chris Hadfield.

*Incredibly geeky joke which I am going to decline to explain.

Chris Hadfield, for those who don't immediately recognize the name, is this guy-

He's a Canadian astronaut who was the Commander of a mission to the International Space Station who not only spent some quality time performing science experiments suggested by kids for them to watch, but also took a moment to record a cover of Space Oddity before he left the ISS to return to Earth.

Which pretty much means that until some Firefighter figures out a way to record Fire in Cairo by the Cure while rescuing an infant from a burning airplane, he pretty much owns us all.

I mean, let's be honest.  'Why Yes, I am the astronaut that recorded a Bowie cover on the International Space Station' is pretty hard to beat as a pickup line.*

*Yes, I am aware that he's married.  My point still stands

You know who Chris Hadfield is having sex with right now?  Anyone he wants to, that's who.

But on the other end of the spectrum, there are some pickup lines that even Chris couldn't pull off.

Here are a few-

"Hey, did you just come from Glamor Shots?"

-Glamor shots, for those fortunate enough not to know, is a company that- for a modest fee - will plaster you with enough makeup to allow you to successfully sell yourself on the streets of Phuket and take some terribly dramatically lit headshots.  Their big selling point at one point was 'Have your picture taken by a professional photographer!' which really just means that they're paying the guy (or gal) who's pressing the 'Take Picture' button.  (Which I suppose is at least comforting for the photographer.) 

"You must be jelly 'cause jam don't shake like that"

-I honestly have no idea what that even means.  I do suspect that commenting on someone's jiggling parts is probably unlikely to get you anywhere.

"You'll do."

-This one will probably get you maced

"You must be tired, because I've been watching you on your treadmill through binoculars for the last half hour"

-If you can pull this one off you totally take the kingship over from Chris.  It's more likely to get you tased however.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Vizsla Flashback - Vizslaws of the Highway

This week's Flashback is from March 31st, and marks the first usage of the word 'Vizlaws'

Happy Sunday, everyone not at Comic-Con!


Vizlaws of the Highway

Now, a lot of the time when I bring up things that really should be common knowledge about driving etiquette people tend to give me responses along the lines of, ‘Holy crap that dog is talking’, or ‘Them some pretty big words for somebody that licks themselves in public’.

I’m going to skate right past these, pausing only briefly to point out that while the second one might be true it’s hardly helpful to the discussion.

And so let’s take a moment to discuss –


1:  Left lane fast.  Right lane slow.

I’m hardly the first one to point this out, but it seems to not have sunk in for the majority of the population.  Let’s break it down to it’s simplest application -  If you are going the exact same speed as the person in the right lane, you should BE IN THE FRICKIN’ RIGHT LANE.  At least for long enough for that nice driver immediately behind you to go past.  Because you know how he (or she)’s about three inches from your bumper?  That’s because you are in their way.  And they hate you.

Which leads to a corollary of the first rule:

1a:  You are not the freeway hall monitor. 

It’s not up to you to prevent speeding.  Or tailgating.  Or merging in from the onramp at a point that you personally disapprove of for ideological reasons.  At no point should you wedge your ass in the left lane at 5 miles below the speed limit just to show all those bad people that you can stop them from speeding like you were Batman of the interstate.  If you do this, they are allowed to ram you off the road like you were the little 8-bit motorcycle in Spy Hunter, seriously.  Wave a reproving finger as they pass if it makes your self-satisfied little self feel better, but under no circumstances are you entitled to try to enforce traffic code.  Unless you’re a state patrolman (patrol-person?  Patrol-attendant?  Deputy?)  If you are actually a POST licensed officer on duty, then you actually ARE the Freeway Hall Monitor, and corollary 1a does not apply to you.  In fact, none of these do.  Neither does the law of diminishing returns, gravity, averages, and my but have you lost weight because you look fabulous.

2: If you drive in such a way as to deliberately be in someone else’s way, you are an asshole.

Yes, I’m looking at you Mr Tap-on-the-brakes-to get-that-car-to-back-off-rather-than-get-the-hell-out-of-their-way.  Sure, there’s plenty of times where Mr. Tailgater is the asshole in today’s story.  And plenty of times where it’s not actually safely or even physically possible to move out of your lane to let someone past or slow down/speed up to allow someone to merge in.  But when you’re going 5 miles below the speed limit in the left lane while people are moving to the right lane to get around you…  We have identified the asshole, and it is you.

3:  Your skill as a driver is in direct inverse proportion to the number of religious bumper stickers that you have on your car.

Same goes for political ones, politics being essentially indistinguishable from religion these days anyway.  (‘I’m right because I’m obviously right, therefore anyone who thinks differently is clearly stupid and wrong’)

Oh, and doubly so for political bumper stickers regarding elections that occurred in previous decades. (Exemption provided for VW Minivans.)

4:  There is room for legitimate difference of opinion as to where in the acceleration lane it is appropriate to merge into traffic.  If someone merges at a spot that you feel to be inappropriate, they probably have a difference of opinion with you but are most likely NOT the antichrist.

That said, let’s observe that the word ‘Acceleration’ is actually RIGHT THERE IN THE NAME OF THE LANE.  If you’re braking to a lower speed than the flow of traffic while on this lane you are no longer allowed to drive on the freeway.  Ever.

5:  If you’re not capable of driving in the snow, you should not be out driving in the snow.

Ditto rain.  And sleet.  And dark of night.  In fact, avoid the postal service altogether.

That’s all for now, It’s vitally important that I go roll on my back in the living room and make noises like a yeti at this point in the evening.

Until next week –


Saturday, July 20, 2013

Of course, that doesn't account for Laika...

A couple of days ago, global improv-queen Jill Bernard brought to my attention a website that lists everyone currently in space.  It's called - appropriately enough-
We should note that this site appears to only account for humans, as it clearly does not mention The Doctor.  (And has completely missed Clara Oswin Oswald - but that could be a result of her only quasi-existing along someone else's timestream for the moment... must check back on November 24th...)
We should also remember that in a matter of a year or so this app will also list Sarah Brightman, as she is apparently being shipped to the International Space Station - True Story - One assumes that Andrew Lloyd Weber bought her the ticket.  What's less clear is what she plans to do during her several month stay.  If she plans on being the first person to record a cover of Space Oddity from actual space she has totally missed her chance.

The takeaway from this is obviously - Canadians are pretty awesome.

"Tonight... When you make love to your woman... She will be dreaming of me."

But I've strayed from my point.
There are - as I type this - 6 Human Beings in space.  Floating above our heads.
And as a counterpoint - all of the amazing stars and byproducts of hydrogenbeing converted to helium that they are currently witnessing?  We pretty much can't see it anymore because of light pollution (as well as pollution of other varieties)
And here's the thing that really keeps a Vizsla up at night (Just kidding, nothing can physically keep a Vizsla awake...)
The technology that got those 6 people up in space (not The Doctor, obviously.) could not have happened without all of the technology that produced the pollution (light and otherwise).
It would not be possible for us to physically go out among the stars if we were still able to see them.
And I'm starting to think that maybe that's always the way things work.
You have to be willing to lose sight of things if you want to actually get to them.
These are the things Vizlsas think about

Friday, July 19, 2013

Shifting Allegiences in the Beyonce/Mike Myers bru-ha-ha

Is Bru-ha-ha hyphenated, btw?  It just Bruhaha?

Not important.  Starting from the top again.

Gentle reader, it takes a big dog to admit that their previous opinions on a matter were in fact incorrect*

*Note to the Tea Party - This is how adults are supposed to behave.  See, you're actually supposed to revise your opinions as you encounter new facts as opposed to just ignoring facts that don't support your preconceived ideology.  It's sort of a thing.

What I'm getting at here is that I'm officially backing Beyonce in the ongoing feud against Mike Myers, please disregard previous statements to the contrary.

For those who might need the backstory-

Back in the Halcyon days of Austin Powers: Goldmember (words that have never before been typed), I heard a brief newsreport on some Entertainment news program (one of your E! knockoffs as I recall) that Mike Myers reportedly didn't get along particularly well with Beyonce on the set of that film because she reportedly never knew her lines precisely.*

*This is the only mention of this that I ever heard, so billing this as an ongoing feud MAY be overstating the matter slightly.  But Vizslas have never been afraid of hyperbole and are certainly not going to start fearing it now.

At the time I kind of assumed that she must be a diva to be around and thought no more of it.

In my defense, I came down on the side of Mike Myers primarily because the whole Austin Powers thing had been reasonably amusing and Cat in the Hat had not happened yet.

Beyonce, in contrast, had not yet informed me that if I liked it I would be well advised to have put a ring on it, and her surprisingly gracious and classy handling of the whole Kanye/Taylor Swift thing had also not happened yet.

But now, after hearing more than a couple times over the years that Mr. Myers is, in actual point of fact, the one that's kind of a pain in the ass to work with because of issues with perfectionism (plus the additional character evidence cited above) I am forced to conclude that I was wrong in my initial assumption.

Winner: Beyonce.

I apologize for my earlier assumptions.

(See Birthers?  This is how you act when you're proven repeatedly to be completely wrong.  Please take note.)

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Yeah... that's not actually what that means...

The other day I was listening to MPR (pretentious dog alert!) and they were discussing the George Zimmerman verdict*

*No, I am not going within 5,000 miles of discussing that one, thanks. 

During the commentary on the verdict which we are absolutely not discussing, one observer mentioned that the verdict was a real 'Pandora's Box' and we would have to see what it did for future prosecution.

Obviously, the most important thing to observe here is that the observer in question clearly completely missed the point of the story of Pandora's Box if they think that that was what it was about.

 Evil looks a lot like silly string

For those who were never deeply unpopular 12 year old boys who read a lot of greek mythology, I'll explain.

Pandora was the first woman on Earth (according to Greek Mythology, don't get all huffy Young Earthers) and was given pretty much the whole package by the Gods - Looks, creativity, brilliance - She was basically the Felicia Day of pre-history. 

But then Prometheus (the mythological figure, not the vaguely disappointing film) stole fire from the Gods and gave it the mankind because he thought it was fundamentally unfair that the Gods could help mankind out but chose not to do so.

(At this point you are probably asking - 'If Pandora was the first woman in the world, where did all these people that Prometheus gave fire to spring up from?'  To this I'll respond, 'And who exactly did Adam and Eve's kids marry again?')

Anyway.  The Greek Gods were pissed about the whole fire-theft thing, and so to punish Prometheus and the world in general they took a couple steps that might broadly be described as 'over-reacting'. 

First they did a bunch of unpleasant stuff to Prometheus which is interesting but not relevant to the story at hand, and then they gave Pandora to Prometheus' brother Jim (ok, his name was Epimitheus, but Jim is funnier) and said to her basically, 'Hey Pandora, here's your new husband Jim.  And as a wedding present here's a box.*  But we should warn you - inside it is a lot of ... But we've already said too much.  Seriously, just don't ever, ever open it, because it's really bad.  And awesome.  In it's terrible badness.  Seriously, don't ever open it.'

Two Immediate reactions - 1: If you're a Greek God you get to start sentences with conjunctions whenever you damn well want to, and   2: Worst.  Wedding present.  Ever.

*probably actually a clay jar, but 'Pandora's clay jar' doesn't have the same ring to it.

So naturally, Pandora eventually gave in to her curiosity, opened the Box (jar), and all the evil in the world escaped* and could never be put back in the box.  The end, way to ruin it for everyone, Panny.

*Except 'Hope', interestingly enough, whose inclusion on the list of 'all the evils in the world' says something interesting about your ancient Greeks.

What I'm getting at here is this - While these days we just use the phrase 'Pandora's Box' to refer to any non-reversible process that's probably going to have some negative consequences, that is not the point of the story.

The Point of the story is that if you give in to curiosity when you know the outcome will be bad then you damn well have to live with the consequences.  And agree with the verdict or not, I'm fairly sure that the Zimmerman jurors were not just kinda trying it to see what would happen.

If you want to discuss non-reversible processes, just say 'non-reversible process' or how about the time honored 'Can't un-ring that bell.'  Or if you get off on thermodynamics 'I'm sorry, but that process clearly generated entropy* and therefore cannot by cyclical in nature'. 

I can guarantee that if you say that last one you'll have a lot more time to read Greek Mythology.

*A significant portion of the readership just observed that Newton's second law of thermodynamics is that Entropy Increases.  You know you you are and why you did so.

In other popular expressions that we all need to stop saying - 'Perfect Storm'.

Look people, it referred to one particular set of weather events.  If you want to describe a confluence, just learn the word 'confluence' already.  You could even go so far to use the word 'Gestalt' if you like, but get ready for a lot of blank looks.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

For the love of God, please stop writing verses.

I've been a little obsessed for a while now with the song Desolation Row - In no small part because of my long standing obsession with the Watchmen comic book series.*

*The first issue of which was titled 'At Midnight All the Agents', which is a lyric fragment from the song.  The full verse is

At midnight, all the agents
and superhuman crew
go out and round up everyone 
that knows more than they do.

I'm tempted to copy and paste all of the lyrics here, but I'm not going to, for the exact same reason as I'm discussing the song in the first place here.

This song has 41 billion verses.


It goes on for on for over 11 minutes, and not in a mid-sixties 'started a guitar solo and forgot to start singing again for a while' kind of way.  It's just verse, after verse, after verse, after verse.

(The other prime example of this phenomenon is of course Leonard Cohen's 'Hallelujah' (aka that song that everyone pretends they liked before they heard John Cale's (admittedly excellent) cover of it on the 1st Shrek soundtrack.  Even Leonard Cohen stated on more than one occasion that he just couldn't stop writing verses and the song was way way too long, and if you're familiar with how long Leonard was willing to let things just sort of keep flowing along then you realize the enormity of that statement.)

('Hallelujah is also notable for the fact that we are now all apparently required by law to record a cover of it before we die.)

But meanwhile, back in the topic at hand...
The film version of Watchmen runs the closing credits over a cover of Desolation Row by My Chemical Romance who, perhaps wisely, chose to only do 4 of the 41 Billion verses - they stuffed the song into a 2/4 time signature and punked it up a bit, which kind of worked for them but seems to have really hocked off the Dillon purists on the internet which just goes to show that you can't please everyone, can you.

Where I was originally going with all of this is that the baton was thrown on Facebook to do a full lyrical deconstruction of the song, and I feel obligated to do so because

A:  Even though I kind of wanted to do that anyway, this still totally counts as doing David Quinn a favor

B:  A baton is a kind of stick, and anyone that's ever been around a Vizsla knows that if you throw a stick anywhere in a Vizsla's vicinity they are damn well going to retrieve it.

So... we begin at the beginning with Verse 1 (of 41 Billion.  Don't worry, I'm not going to do them all in detail, I have learned my lesson after the never-ending Catwoman article)

They’re selling postcards of the hanging  
They’re painting the passports brown  
The beauty parlor is filled with sailors  
The circus is in town

I'm assured by Wikipedia (insert the ever-increasingly predictable rant about Wikipedia's reliability as an information source) that this verse (or 'stanza', if you'd like to get all academic about it) is very likely a reference to an incident that took place in Duluth in 1920 and that a young Robert Zimmerman would almost certainly have heard of.  To whit - 3 black carnival workers were accused of raping a white woman and hanged in town.  They did indeed take a picture and sell postcards of it.

But aside from being a quick sketch of a horrifically macabre incident from a less enlightened time (we like to tell ourselves) this verse also sets up the basic imagery of the song - that of something crass and decorative applied over a decaying backdrop.  A cheap coverup overlay to draw attention away from the rot underneath.  It's a picture postcard of an atrocity, sold to amuse and distract.  That's essentially the tone set for the remainder of the song.

From that point on the lyrics are essentially a role call of characters. Some fictional (Cinderella, Romeo, the Phantom of the Opera) Some historic (Albert Einstein, Bette Davis), and some from religious folklore (Cain and Able, the Good Samaritan) whom you could either count as historic or fictional depending on your religious views (although I probably gave my view on it away when I called them 'folklore...').

And by and large the characters are... Doing nothing.  Einstein is pretending to be Robin Hood, Romeo's being politely asked to leave, Cinderella is quietly sweeping up the broken glass after the ambulances go.  They're decaying in place having no function outside of the stories we associate with them.

And on the edges - hiding in the choruses are the ambulance, and the riot squads, and the insurance men - Forces of control trying to keep the characters in their stagnation, enforcing the slow decay.

Indeed, a recurring theme is the resistance to change - the fear of letting things be finally destroyed so that something new can begin.  Dr. Filth's patients keep trying to blow up his world, but he won't let them.  Casanova is being punished for trying to get to desolation row, the insurance men are there to make sure no one gets away.  

Finally giving in to the desolation, finally admitting that the carnival being in town does not make everything ok.  That is what would free all of these people.  That is what they're being denied.  
That, in one vizsla's opinion, is what Bob was trying to get at.
Also it was 1965, so he was probably stoned.
Vizsla out

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Well Hello there, other beverages

A while ago now I penned a little love note to what is hands down both my favorite beverage and plaything - Water.

Now, Water is kind of the Alpha and Omega for me (they were the first and last letter of the Geek Alphabet - still are, in fact - and the phrase means something that is both the beginning and the end of the discussion for you, e.g. Mark Ruffalo is the Alpha and Omega of Movie Hulks, incredible or otherwise.)

However, I'm sure that some of you are probably curious what today's trendy and modern Vizsla feels about other beverages

Well today is your lucky day, people-who-don't-have-anything-better-than-that-to-wonder-about.  And you might want to look into doing some volunteering or something - it really fills that empty hole in your day where the 'love and respect of others' should be.  I mean... I hear...


Here is - the Definitive guide to how Vizslas feel about various beverages

If I haven't mentioned before, there are three other dogs here.  Two Shelties and a Border Collie.  Now I'm going to need you to listen closely to this because I can NOT stress it enough. 

Under NO circumstances should you give a Border Collie a caffeinated beverage.  Ever.

 That established, It's better to not interact with people in the morning until they've had at least one cup, no matter how badly you need to get outside to poop.


What people in the United Kingdom drink when they're not too busy using the metric system or systematically destroying early episodes of Doctor Who.

Pop (Soda to 48 other states.  'Coke' if you're in Texas)

I have to admit - not a huge fan.  Because when you jump up on somebody when they're trying to drink it and it spills on you your fur gets all sticky.  Although it does provide a pleasant experience when you're licking yourself later.

I may need to issue an official apology for that last sentence...


Very bad for dogs and under no circumstances should you share it with them.  I mean... I've had a cupple and what?>??;'/ WEHAT????  You wanna fight me budddy??/  HUH????
I Love you man.  No.  Like, totally.  I totally love you man.


Now, I don't actually have a lot of experience with this, but according to Auntie it's the best thing ever and I'm going to go with her opinion on this one.  And as a side note to a small percentage of the readership, there's a winery in California called Hook and Ladder that gives a 20% discount to fire service personnel.  If you contact them, ask for Candace.  She's awesome. 

Greg Kinnear

It turns out that he is not technically a beverage, despite previous claims in this column.  Neither is pudding.  I know, we were all surprised.

Vizsla (passing) out

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Catwoman Brackets

Inexplicably not pictured - Julie Newmar
No, that's Lee Meriwether.
Yes, I'm sure.

First off I want to spend just a moment enjoying the fact that the title of today's entry could equally well be the title of an episode of the Big Bang Theory.  Which means that you should probably stop and hum something by the Barenaked Ladies at this stage.

All done?

Fine, then I'll proceed.

Over the weekend it occurred to me that Michelle Pfeiffer's Catwoman is just hands down more interesting to me than Anne Hathaway's Catwoman.  This of course leads me to a brief discussion of softball.

In an effort to finally answer the question - Who is the best Catwoman, we clearly have no choice but to follow your standard Softball Tournament double elimination playoff structure.

I will of course pause at this time for you to go tap the keg.

Back again?

Good.  Ok - Here's how it goes - In the first bracket each Catwoman will be randomly paired with another Catwoman to determine which was the better Catwoman. 

The losing Catwoman will go into the losers bracket where she will wait to be paired against other Catwomen that lose in the first bracket.  The winner of the Winner Catwomen Bracket will then be paired off against the winner of the Loser Catwomen Bracket in order to determine who is Catwoman Triumphant.

How's that sound, other than insane.  With me?

Fun fact before we begin - Catwoman, created in 1940 to be a foil/antithesis for Batman, was retired in 1954 when the Comics Code Authority was being adopted on grounds that she was a bit too kinky - what with the whip and the catsuit. (Be fair - it was probably the whip that did it.)  AFter we stopped caring about the CCA she was brought back, and as if to make up for lost time DC comics upped the ante on the kink factor - She's not just a cat-burglar... she's a retired dominatrix!  And before you ask, no, I do not know if there's a pension with that.)

(sequence of Catwomen determined randomly by my lovely assistant Becky, who only looked at me for the briefest of moments to see if I'd completely lost it at last.)

Ok - Round 1

 Catwoman #4 the lovely Michelle Pfeiffer 


Catwoman #3 the lovely if somewhat intimidating Eartha Kitt

This is actually a difficult call for me, as both of them do well in the vital 'embodying the kink factor' category that Got Ms. Kyle shelved in 1954.  AT the end of the day however, However wonderful Eartha's purr was (and it WAS), Michelle has the whip.  And for that alone she'd win this one.  Sorry Ms. Kitt.  See ya in the next bracket


Catwoman #1 - The original - Ms. Julie Newmar


Catwoman #5 - The somewhat underrated Halle Barry 
(Her that is, not the movie.  The movie sucks.)

Ok, I actually feel really badly for Ms. Barry about how the cards fell on this one, because let's be honest - this one just looks like a slaughter.  So to soften the blow, a few positive things to say about the Halle Barry Catwoman-

1: She has the whip, so I give her props (see what I did there?) For that one.
2: I actually like the costume to an extent and she certainly brought the kink
3:  The script was really not her fault.

I mean, Julie Newmar still wins this one by a landslide, but there was no reason to be cruel about it.


Catwoman #2 - aka The One Everyone Forgets - Lee Meriwether


Catwoman #6 - our last Challenger - Anne Hathoway

I can't state clearly enough here - Lee Meriwether was actually very good for what she was trold to do.  Unfortunately, what she was told to do was 'act as much like Julie Newmar as you can'  Lee was only Catwoman for the one goofy 60s film, and she was only in that because Julie Newmar was busy being 500 feet tall somewhere else at the time.  Anne Hathaway Catwoman on the other hand was at least focused on being her own Catwoman, which has to get her something philosophically, since that's sort of at the heart of the character.  Winner- Anne Hathaway.

 Michelle Pfeiffer
Julie Newmar

Ouch.  I love Cat-Pfeiffer, but Julie is clearly the winner here.

ditto for 


Julie Newmar

Anne Hathaway

Winner clearly Julie.

Which brings us to


Eartha Kitt 

Halle Barry

I actually kind of want to write a comparison/contrast paper about these two... 
However this post is already out of control so I'm going to just say that Eartha wins because without her Halle Barry would probably not even have a career.


Lee Meriwether


Michelle Pfeiffer

Pfeiffer.  By a lot.

Anne Hathoway


Eartha Kitt

I'm giving this one to Eartha Kitt and for the love of GOD are we almost done?  See - this is why no one wants to sit through an entire softball tournament anymore!

Michelle Pfeifer


Anne Hathoway

Which is ironically the question that started this discussing four million words ago and which I already discussed at great length elsewhere, so I'm going to give this round to Peter Boyle

Which leads us to-


Julie Newmar


Peter Boyle

And the winner clearly...

Is Peter Boyle.

So there you have it - Definitive proof - Peter Boyle IS the ultimate Catwoman.