March 30, 2003

Saturday, April 12

As noted here at TRR and at The Rittenhouse Review last week, a group of Philadelphia-area bloggers are gathering for coffee and, subsequently, drinks, on Saturday, April 12, beginning at 8:00 p.m. at Xando, possibly now known as Così (I don't get over there very often), at 325 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, under the direction of Go Fish author and proprietor, Nicole.

Nicole tells me all Philly bloggers, their readers, and friends are welcome.

See you there.


Given that TRR has published three lists of "100 Things" ("100 Things About Me," "100 Things I've Never Done," and "100 Things About Mildred"), and that TRR runs an irregular series under the heading "Philadelphia: Love It or Hate It," I welcomed the appearance of Philadelphia Weekly's latest issue and its cover story, "103 Things We Love About Philly."

It's a good list and an interesting list, and a list about which the editors of Philadelphia Weekly in introducing the collection expressed a specific desire to hear not one word of complaint from the give-away paper's readers.

Yeah, like that was going to stop me.

The Philadelphia Daily News several months ago ran a contest among local ad agencies seeking suggestions for a new advertising and public relations campaign to draw visitors, and even new residents, to Philadelphia. Easily the best, in my opinion at least, was the submission from an agency, the name of which I cannot now recall, built around the tag line, "Philadelphia: The Strangest City You'll Ever Love."

Brilliant. A piece of genius, that was.

And now this week Philadelphia Weekly is promoting to readers both local and worldwide its own version of Philadelphia, one I will call, "Philadelphia: The Straightest City You'll Ever Love."

Down as the street paper's almost uniformly lilly-white editors and writers are pretending to be -- what with "hip-hop" this and John Chaney that -- they virtually ignored Philadelphia's huge gay and lesbian community, the very same people that for years kept substantial portions of Center City -- the core downtown area the Weekly's professes to love -- from dying what many might have called a well deserved death, there apparently being nothing about gay Philadelphia worth loving.

I beg to differ and not solely because I am personally offended -- Love me! Love my Philadelphia! -- but because the Weekly's editors have displayed, through their own indifference and ignorance, a gleeful willingness to overlook a large swath of Philadelphia's best.


"It's all in who [sic] you know," they say. I couldn't agree more, though I might add, sometimes it's all in who [sic] you know of.

Yesterday my brother and I went to the Philadelphia Museum of Art to see the exhibition, "Dégas and the Dance."

While visiting the Dégas galleries I saw a face that was familiar to me, that of Jill DeVonyer, curator of the exhibition.

No, I don't know DeVonyer personally, but I know what she looks like. Meanwhile, the voice of the woman whose face I recognized was providing running commentary on Dégas through the headsets that are given to all visitors to the show, confirming my initial impression.

Needless to say, my brother and I stayed close to DeVonyer, without, of course, drawing attention to ourselves, appreciating the insightful commentary she offered to her guest.

DeVonyer's guest, by the way, needs both a haircut and a shave.

March 27, 2003

Okay, yet another list, and one I can't blame on a fellow blogger, or on anyone really, the idea just came to me after completing the list of my 10 favorite sitcoms posted below.

I suppose everyone's taste in film could be described as eclectic. I'd like to think mine is also eclectic, but maybe it's just weird. I enjoy a deep and ponderous art film as much as the next intellectual, but I'll admit I have a weakness for some of the goofiest and silliest movies ever produced.

I call them "goofie moovies," and below are my 10 all-time favorites.

1. "What's Up, Doc?"

2. "Airplane"

3. "Zelig"

4. "Airplane 2"

5. "Mermaids"

6. "Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery"

7. "What's Up, Tiger Lily?"

8. "Showgirls"

9. "Austin Powers: Goldmember"

10. "The Naked Gun"

By the way, the worst and most-overrated goofie moovie of all time: "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." But that's me, and, like I said, I may just be weird.


Another List . . . Blame Ampersand

Blame Ampersand…He posted his version of this list yesterday.

These may not be the 10 best TV situation comedies of all time, but they're my 10 favorites, each for different reasons, each in its own place and time, and in roughly the following order, at least as of this particular moment, which I guess means "subject to change":

1. "Mary Tyler Moore"

2. "The Simpsons"

3. "The Golden Girls"

4. "I Love Lucy"

5. "All in the Family"

6. "Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman"

7. "The Bob Newhart Show"

8. "Leave It to Beaver"

9. "M*A*S*H"

10. "Barney Miller"

(Yes, I agree, "Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman" wasn't truly a sitcom, but what, really, could one call it? And, just to be a nitpicker, because I see it wrong all the time, the show was called "Mary Tyler Moore," not "The Mary Tyler Moore Show.")

March 25, 2003

Okay, so I gave you "100 Things About Me" and "100 Things I've Never Done." Now I give you "100 Things About Mildred," my bulldog.

1. Mildred is what is commonly known as a "full-figured gal."

2. Mildred has had a problem, all of her life, with those "pesky 5 pounds."

3. Mildred's problem is, to tell the truth, with those "pesky 10 pounds."

4. Mildred's full and official name is "Mildred Pierce," from the movie of the same name.

5. Mildred says that if you haven't seen the movie, you won't get it. And you're missing a lot.

6. Mildred must be walked three times a day.

7. Mildred's "walks" rarely extend beyond one city block.

8. Mildred is one lazy ass dog.

9. Mildred burps, loudly, after most meals.

10. Mildred will barf if she drinks too much water too quickly.

11. Mildred will barf if she walks too quickly.

12. Mildred likes most vegetables.

13. Mildred particularly enjoys broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, and carrots.

14. Mildred it no longer allowed to eat cauliflower.

15. Mildred dislikes most fruits.

16. Mildred loves bananas, though.

17. Mildred also loves yogurt, either plain or vanilla.

18. Mildred loves soft ice cream, vanilla only, as eating chocolate ice cream could kill her.

19. Mildred loves the taste of coffee.

20. Mildred likes to slurp discarded coffee from the gutters outside of the coffee house up the street that apparently doesn't have even one drain in the entire shop.

21. Mildred's coat is mostly white.

22. Mildred has what's known among bulldoggers as a "top coat."

23. Mildred has the most endearing brown spots on her ears.

24. Mildred also has dozens and dozens of liver spots.

25. Mildred's liver spots cannot be seen to the naked eye unless she is wet.

26. Mildred hates to be bathed.

27. Mildred loves toddlers.

28. Mildred loves children.

29. Mildred loves adolescents.

30. Mildred loves adults.

31. Mildred loves senior citizens.

32. Mildred loves everyone.

33. Mildred does volunteer work with senior citizens and developmentally disabled adults.

34. Mildred rarely barks. In fact, her daddy hasn't heard her bark in at least three years.

35. Mildred is a beggar.

36. Mildred begs for food she actively dislikes.

37. Mildred has been spayed.

38. Mildred likes “the little guys,” i.e., small dogs, like Chihuahuas and Jack Russell Terriers, the latter being among her daddy's least favorite "breeds."

39. Mildred's favorite "guys," though, are always her fellow bulldogs. Always.

40. Mildred doesn’t like it when the boys get too friendly.

41. Mildred will chastise the boys who are too curious "back there."

42. Mildred is still a virgin.

43. Mildred's daddy likes it that way.

44. Mildred has never met a cat.

45. Mildred cannot be shown in dog shows.

46. Mildred cannot be shown in dog shows because she has been spayed.

47. Mildred cannot be shown in dog shows because her dewclaws were removed shortly after her birth.

48. Mildred has a very, very short tail.

49. Mildred sleeps an average of 18 hours a day.

50. Mildred snores.

51. Mildred snores loudly.

52. Mildred's snoring is a comforting sound to her daddy's ears.

53. Mildred sheds.

54. Mildred sheds a lot.

55. Mildred sheds year-round.

56. Mildred and her daddy hate their germ infestation wall-to-wall carpeting.

57. Mildred’s maternal ancestors are all champion show dogs, going back at least four generations.

58. Mildred’s paternal ancestors are, uniformly, not champions, going back at least four generations.

59. Mildred's father was, like, a carney or something.

60. Mildred's mother was, like, a slut or something.

61. Mildred was born with a trick knee.

62. Mildred could have been returned to the breeder for that reason.

63. Mildred was not returned to the breeder.

64. Mildred sometimes limps because of her bum knee, though it's been a while.

65. Mildred takes a glucosamine/condroitin supplement for said trick knee.

66. Mildred takes her daily glucosamine/condroitin supplement along with a measure of peanut butter.

67. Mildred takes said supplement eagerly and happily.

68. Mildred's glucosamine/condroitin/peanut butter supplement is the highlight of her day.

69. Mildred loves the taste of Aveda hand cream. The one that smells like lemons.

70. Mildred loves the taste of Calvin Klein ckOne moisturizer.

71. Mildred loves the taste of all commercially prepared creams and lotions.

72. Mildred once caught, and tried to eat, a pretty-good-sized toad.

73. Mildred sleeps on her daddy's bed.

74. Mildred will kick her daddy at night if she thinks he's taking up too much room on the bed.

75. Mildred requires two pillows to sleep.

76. Mildred enjoys making a "nest" of these two pillows.

77. Mildred even more so enjoys making a "nest" of her two pillows and her daddy's two pillows.

78. Mildred cannot get up on the bed on her own. She requires direct and immediate human assistance in this endeavor.

79. Mildred sometimes purrs like a cat.

80. Mildred sometimes looks like one of those baby seals the Norwegians and Canadians used to kill and maybe still do.

81. Mildred likes to dance a dance her daddy calls the "Bunny Hop."

82. Mildred is sometimes called, by her daddy and other friends, "Bunny."

83. Mildred likes to dance a dance her daddy calls the "Corkscrew Dance."

84. Mildred's "Corkscrew Dance" is best engendered by scratching her just in front of her tail.

85. Mildred's drug of choice is what are known as "Greenies."

86. Mildred's favorite treat, "Greenies," cost about $1.50 each.

87. Mildred's daddy has had it with the "Greenies" addiction.

88. Mildred will settle, in a pinch, for Dentabones.

89. Mildred has recurring ear infections.

90. Mildred's ears require twice-daily cleaning.

91. Mildred's facial folds also require twice-daily cleaning.

92. Mildred tends to have outbreaks of acne on her chin.

93. Mildred lately has been regressing on the issue of "house-training."

94. Mildred is prone to eating her own excrement, thereby somewhat nullifying the house-training regression issue.

95. Mildred's proclivities in this realm are what is known as "Mildred's Secret Shame."

96. Mildred was born on June 14, Flag Day.

97. Mildred is not particularly patriotic, but neither is she anti-American. Frankly, she probably doesn't care much one way or the other.

98. Mildred is one of a litter of six puppies.

99. Mildred is one of three girls and three boys.

100. Mildred was chosen from among her litter-mates for this reason: It was late August, it was hot as hell in northern Virginia, and after showing the dogs for a while the owner asked his son to fetch a bowl of water. At this point, her daddy was torn between two of the puppies, but when the water was placed in front of the girls, the bitch that was then tied with Mildred for her future daddy's affection -- and ownership -- revealed her true colors. She muscled her way toward the bowl, pushing her siblings off to the side, lapping up almost all of the ice water. Mildred sat to the side, allowing her more aggressive sister to have her way. But once the über-bitch had her fill, Mildred and the remaining sister moved in, drinking the remnants of the water. When all was said and done, and the bowl was empty but presumably still cold, Mildred laid her head in the bowl, taking advantage of some slight relief from the day's unrelenting heat. "That one," I said, pointing to Mildred. "Definitely. That one."

Yeah, she's a pain in the neck and certainly the "dud of the litter," but I wouldn't trade her for anything or anyone else.

God, please, she's all I have. Let Mildred live forever.

March 24, 2003

Nicole -- Philly blogger, Henry Rollins nut, Sassy cat-owner, and the author of Go Fish -- writes to inform me that Philadelphia-area bloggers will be gathering for coffee and then, it's fair to assume, drinks, all this on Saturday, April 12, beginning at 8:00 p.m. at Xando, 325 Chestnut St., Philadelphia.

See you there.

(Oh, and a shamelessly gratuitious link on the blogroll at The Rittenhouse Review to anyone who buys me a drink. Unless, of course, the blogger already links to well, you know who.)


Why do I hate the Oscars®?

Let me count the ways.

More accurately, I should ask, Why do I hate and almost never watch the Oscars®, also known as the Academy Awards®?

First, that damned "®" the grandiosely named Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences insists everyone use when writing about their little ceremony and its mantelpieces.

Second, and probably most important, I rarely go to the movies. In the last three years I have seen one, just one, movie in a theater, and that was when I accompanied two of my nephews to the first "Harry Potter" film. I prefer to watch at home.

(Why so infrequently? Shall I count these reasons as well? Topping the list: patrons acting as if they're watching the movie in their living room, with their incessant chatter, the constant inquiries such as "Wait. Who's that again?", "I must have missed something.", "What did she say?", shoes removed to reveal socks ridden with holes or poorly tended bare feet, legs thrown over the seats in front, etc. And don't even get me started on popcorn: I hate the taste, smell, and very sight of it, and the sound is even worse, particularly as it's shoveled into the mouths of moviegoers who apparently fasted for days beforehand. Oh, for the glory days of the "Paris" on New York's W. 59th St., back when that theater had no concessions whatsoever.)

Third, it's a stupid and venal industry, reeking of self-importance and self-righteousness from top to bottom. Acting is a difficult craft, they tell us. Yeah, right. Give me 60 attempts -- "takes," they call them -- at virtually anything and I'll get it right at least once.

Fourth, but by no means the last (I'll stop here), all too often the wrong people win Oscars®. Nicole Kidman? Kidman is the "best actress"? This woman is considered an actress at all? (By the way, I have it on very good authority -- Popbitch, to be specific -- that it's a wig. No, not what she was wearing during the filming of "The Hours," what she wears all the time.)

Speaking of the wrong people winning Oscars®, it happened again last night. Just yesterday I learned the always-outstanding Kathy Bates was up for best supporting actress for her performance in "About Schmidt." Recalling that this is normally one of the first awards of the evening, I figured I would tune in for at least a brief while, simultaneously writing checks and dealing with other miscellanea.

And she lost. Bates lost to someone named Catherine Zeta-Jones, one of the two overly made-up faces that sneer at me day after day in the newspaper advertisements for "Chicago," the night's big winner.

Granted, I didn't see "Chicago." I didn't even see "About Schmidt." (The film stars the insufferable and wildly overrated Jack Nicholson. I may never see it.) So you're probably muttering to yourself, "You don't know what you're talking about." But I do. I know Bates's work well. She is uniformly excellent. I know, I simply know, that when I finally succumb and watch "About Schmidt" -- fast-forwarding through the Nicholson parts -- I will be dazzled, amazed, and thoroughly impressed.

To hell with the Oscars® and the Academy Awards®.

(Oh, and in case you missed it, and you probably did, the presumably uniformly thin entertainment reporters at the Philadelphia Daily News think Bates and Geena Davis are fat.)


I have learned, yet again, to buy tickets early, before they either sell out or the only seats remaining are the prohibitively expensive.

The Kirov Orchestra performed under the direction of Valery Gergiev at the Kimmel Center's Verizon Hall on Friday…and I missed it. And judging from Peter Dobrin's review in today's Philadelphia Inquirer, I really missed it.

Dobrin writes:

There is nothing precious about the Kirov Orchestra. Sure, there were moments in its performance Friday night at the Kimmel Center when volume was reduced to a sub-whisper. But such sonic peace almost seemed like a parlor trick next to the ensemble's basic roaring character. The musicians played so loudly for so long they seemed to cut the size of Verizon Hall by half....

It's always a mistake to draw sweeping conclusions based on one performance. But it is pretty clear that of all the orchestras that have come through town in the Kimmel's visiting-orchestra series, the Kirov is the most extroverted. The basic concept of sound seeks boldness over blending, and a certain macho heroism over silken sound....

We hear orchestral prettiness in this town on a regular basis. I might not enjoy being manhandled by the Kirov three or four times a week, but this one-night fling was a wonderful reminder of just how wild an orchestra can be.

My regret at missing the Kirov's performance stems not from Dobrin's wild enthusiasm for the ensemble -- the review is not entirely favorable. Instead, the critic's take on the evening reminded me of a critical turning point in my enthusiasm for orchestral music: a performance of Igor Stravinsky's Rite of Spring by the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra more than 10 years ago. Talk about wild.

You know, it's nice to be blasted out of one's seat now and again. I could have used it.


Maybe I'm just cranky today, but I think Susan Sontag and her publisher, Farrar Straus & Giroux, have some nerve to charge $20 for her new book, Regarding the Pain of Others.

It's all of 131 pages.

That's 15 cents a page.

"Pain" is definitely the word.

March 22, 2003

Look Who's Linking To TRR

All too many of my colleagues within the blogosphere have demonstrated a strange, inexplicable even, disinclination to link to TRR: The Lighter Side of Rittenhouse.

I have no idea why this is, or whether I should offended. I work pretty hard at the site and I think it's quite a good blog, and yet it's overlooked, ignored, and disregarded.

With the slight of my fellow bloggers in mind, I direct you to the weblogs of those writers wise and prescient enough to have linked to TRR. I hope you will visit them now and often:


Exposing the Right

Go Fish

Long Story; Short Pier

Mad Kane's Notables



Paradox 1x: Philly Blogs

Pennsylvania Gazette

Plucky Punk's Happy Land

Roger Ailes

Ruminate This

Scoobie Davis Online

Sisyphus Shrugged

Skippy the Bush Kangaroo

Sugar, Mr. Poon?


VanitySite (Zizka)

WTF Is It Now?

You know, I just might start taking this personally. I might even start keeping track.

[Post-publication addendum (March 24): Additional links added as new links to TRR are created or existing links are brought to my attention.]

March 21, 2003

The Best and Worst of the City of Brotherly Love

Arranged in Thoroughly Random and Unrelated Pairings

PHILADELPHIA - LOVE IT: The Sound of Music. Few American cities can top Philadelphia when it comes to music, particularly classical music, with regular performances by the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Opera Company of Philadelphia,the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, the Philadelphia Classical Symphony, Philomel, and the orchestra, chamber groups, and soloists of the Curtis Institute of Music.

A variety of performances and shows are staged at the major performing arts centers, including the Kimmel Center, the Annenberg Center, and the Mann Center, as well as the Academy of Music.

Finally, the Comcast Spectacor-First Union Complex, Tweeter Center, the Electric Factory, and countless other venues as listed at the Miller Time Network and in each issue of the Philadelphia City Paper and the Philadelphia Weekly offer more popular music than I would ever care to hear.

PHILADELPHIA - HATE IT: The Accent. (Also known as PhillySpeak.) I have been thinking about writing a few words about the regional accent here but I hesitated, fearing I might offend some readers. However, over time I have come to realize that nobody living in or hailing from Philadelphia or the surrounding area who speaks with the local accent will admit to doing so. As a result, there apparently is no one to be offended.

It's difficult to describe an accent to a person not familiar with it while relying only the printed (or published) word, so perhaps a few examples with my crude attempts at universally recognizable hyphenation will suffice:

First of all, Philadelphians aren't from Philadelphia, they are from Fulladullfyuh.

Philadelphians are never cold, they're code.

A Philadelphia would never place something on the coffee table; instead the object would be placed awn the table, or more accurately, awnna table.

Philadelphians won't give you change for a dollar, but they might give you four cooders in exchange for a dah-er.

Philadelphians are never going to do anything, they're gawnna do it.

Philadelphia don't drink water, they drink wooder. (They also have an unusual way of pronouncing Coke -- with two syllables -- but I can't get the transcription quite right.)

Philadelphians don't work on Wednesdays, but they do work on Winz-deeze.

Philadelphians don't work on Thursdays either, but they do work on Thirsties.

Philadelphians don't use towels, they use tals.

Philadelphia's NFL team is not the Eagles, they're the Iggles. (Or worse, "the Birds.")

But the reason I like living here is because Philadelphians don't have an attitude, though I'll concede one can find a few denizens with an addey-tood.

[Post-publication addendum March 22: One entry corrected thanks to the suggestion of a helpful reader.]

March 18, 2003

"The scent of a man may make women feel better, researchers say," the Philadelphia Inquirer reported Monday in what I would have thought was a restatement of the obvious, but, hey, that's just me. ("Study: Male Sweat May Affect Women," by Aparna Surendran, March 17, 2003.)

According to the Inquirer's report:

A study suggests that chemicals found in male underarm sweat may cause women to be more relaxed. The chemicals may also affect the timing and length of menstrual cycles.

The study, conducted by the University of Pennsylvania and the Monell Chemical Senses Center, looked at 18 women…tested over a 12-hour period.

For one six-hour period, extracts from male underarms were applied to the women's upper lips. For a second six hours, ethanol, as a control, was applied. Both the sweat and the ethanol were mixed with the same fragrance so the women could not tell the difference....

When sweat was applied, blood tests showed a quicker onset of luteinizing hormone, or LH, a regulator of the menstrual cycle....When sweat was applied, the average time till the next LH pulse was 12 minutes shorter than in the control.

In addition to the endocrine effects, the women also had differences in mood. Based on a questionnaire the women filled out after each administration of sweat or ethanol, researchers determined that the majority of the women were more relaxed and less tense when exposed to sweat.

It's clear this was a very scientific experiment:

The underarm sweat extracts came from men who bathed with fragrance-free soap and did not use deodorant for four weeks.

Just a bunch of everyday guys signed up, apparently. Or maybe just my core group of friends.

March 13, 2003

I've sometimes joked here at TRR that if you want something done right, do it yourself, but if you want something done wrong, take it to Philadelphia. That's an overstatement, of course, but there are days when I wonder.

There are advantages to living in a city that sometimes seems to take pride in its undeserved reputation for mediocrity, a city with a perpetual inferiority complex. The main advantage is that when something is done right, well, people notice.

And people will notice One Pennsylvania Plaza.

Not yet. It isn't finished. But as Harris M. Steinberg's early review of the plans, published in the latest edition of Philadelphia City Paper, "High Hopes," make perfectly clear, "Pennsylvania Plaza promises to be the finest addition to our city and skyline since the PSFS Building." [The PSFS Building was discussed here last November, in "Philadelphia: Love It or Hate It."]

Steinberg writes:

Planned for the edge of Penn Center, Philadelphia's tepid imitation of Rockefeller Center, the smart people of Liberty Property Trusts through the clever and talented hands of architect Robert A. M. Stern and landscape architect Laurie Olin have crafted a building so finely conceived and so seamlessly integrated into the urban fabric that at first glance you wonder what all the fuss is about. Behind the tailored, Saville Row-quality of its Kasota stone exterior skin (the same golden-hued limestone used at the Philadelphia Museum of Art), this dapper piece of urbanism strikes all the right chords....

Liberty Property Trust is once again daring Philadelphia to be great. The company that in the 1980s defied the unwritten height limit of Billy Penn's hat -- unleashing a flurry of buildings that artfully scrape the sky, reinvigorating our urban identity -- now offers us a building of excellence that will quietly brush the clouds as it urges us onward. For this is a building that believes in Philadelphia's future as much as it is proud of our past.

With a nod to the Philadelphia Museum of Art in both its color and its abstracted classicism, One Pennsylvania Plaza grasps the significance of our rightful place in the history of American civic design while maintaining a keen eye toward the future. This is a building to be proud of.

What are you waiting for? Go ahead. Take a look. And then take another. And then have another.


"Every Thursday in Lent. 12:00 Noon. Eucharist, Organ Recital, and Sandwiches."

An advertisement placed by the Philadelphia Cathedral (Episcopalian) in the March 12 issue of the Weekly Press.

March 11, 2003

Forget what your high-school English teacher told you. It really is possible to write a story without a villain.

There's a terrific article in today's Philadelphia Daily News that broaches my bulldog Mildred's favorite volunteer work: pets as animal therapy for the elderly, the infirm, and the mentally disabled.

"[A] Dog Was All the Medicine She Needed," by Jill Porter, is a story without villains, only heroes, and plenty of heroines, it must be noted. I say noted, because I often think that distinction, at least as it plays out in a story like this one, makes all the difference in the world. Granted, there's no great conflict at work in this story, but only because the kinds of unnecessary conflicts and tedious trials that would have interferred with resolving the obstacles in the way of its ending were dealt with appropriately and with humanity.

Among the story's heroines and heroes: Jean Butler, 90, the patient; Dr. Judith Fisher, her physician; Linda Schmitz, a psychologist and hospital volunteer; University Square Complex, Miss Butler's residence; Presbyterian Medical Center, where Dr. Fisher is director of community programs; Green Acres, a Wynnewood, Pa., nursing home; April Lamenia, admissions director at Green Acres; the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Philadelphia; and, of course, Zach, a Chihuahua-terrier mix, rescued by the aforementioned SPCA. (Zach is shown in this photo, by Jennifer Midberry, with Miss Butler and Dr. Fisher.)

As Mildred's human, I appreciated this element of the story: According to Butler, her housing complex "took Zach's picture, gave him a card and put him on the mailing list." The Daily News reports, "Butler and Zach became inseparable, riding around on the motorized cart that Dr. Fisher also prescribed, inviting conversation with other tenants. 'It got to be they didn't ask about me -- they asked about Zach,' [Butler] said."

I know the feeling. Believe me, I know the feeling.

Read the story without getting at least a tiny bit choked up and there's something really, really wrong with you.

And Mildred said that. Not I.

March 06, 2003

I never really "got" Diana, Princess of Wales. What was all the fuss about? She was only mildly attractive, her appearance enhanced in the "glamorous" way that ready access to a large fortune offers. She was only slightly intelligent, her second-rate education keeping her comfortably on a par with the preschoolers she once supervised. And she was merely borderline stable on an emotional and psychological level.

But the cult lives on. And on and on.

The latest lunacy: "The Spirit of Diana," coming to pay-per-view near you!

According to the program's producers, "The Spirit of Diana: The True Account of the Séances" will feature "renowned psychic-mediums" Craig and Jane Hamilton-Parker, "psychic healer" and "one of Diana's closest friends and confidantes" Simone Simmons; "healer and acupuncturist to the princess" Oonagh Shanley-Toffolo, Diana's personal astrologist Penny Thornton, and Patricia Bankins TCT, RM, of
American Trance-Channel.

Also appearing, Andrew Morton, author of Diana: Her True Story, milking his withering franchise for every last quid; and Mohammed Al Fayed, father of Diana's consort, Dodi Al Fayed.

What's in store for this evening of fun?

Now, for the first time on television, we will reach out to the spirit world and attempt to communicate with Princess Diana.

Britain's most renowned psychics retrace Diana’s final journey, and gather with her closest friends to reach out to her spirit.

You know, if you keep watching this junk, they'll keep throwing it on there.

March 05, 2003

Tatiana of Russian Beauty has directed me to what may be the very best web site ever. But I like weird things. And I thought this one was sad.


Joel Sandler, recently convicted of hiring a hit man to kill his estranged wife in order to avoid a financial settlement in their divorce, is back in the news.

Readers may remember Sandler as the cheapskate Mainline millionaire who peed into a cup -- the contents of which he would then throw out the window -- in order not to rack up his water bill.

The Philadelphia Daily News reports:

[Y]esterday, the only time he showed any emotion was when Montgomery County Common Pleas Judge William Nicholas revealed the fines attached to [Sandler's] 8 ½-to-25-year prison sentence.

The brooding former stockbroker actually flinched when Nicholas stated the fines for the criminal solicitation to commit murder -- $25,000 -- and for criminal use of a telephone - $15,000. [Emphasis added.]

You know, I'm fairly confident Sandler won't be throwing his urine around while he's in prison.

March 04, 2003

My Bulldog Mildred yesterday became an anti-war activist, participating in the Lysistrata Project's reading of the great Aristophanes comedy, Lysistrata.

Hers was not a public reading. Actually, it was just Mildred and I reading the play at home by ourselves.

And, to tell you the truth, Mildred only read for a little while.

During our reading, at which there sadly, but not surprisingly, was no paying audience, Mildred played the part of Cleonice, in honor of Clea, a Bulldog she and I helped find a new and most welcome home.

Mildred did the best she could, but there were problems. Mildred is, as her fans know, virtually mute. She can speak, but I haven't heard her bark in, gee whiz, about four years or so.

And then there's the whole "But, daddy, I don't have an opposable thumb!" issue. Usually we can work around this, though it did make holding and keeping up with the script more than a little challenging for Mildred.

You probably will not be surprised to learn that soon after abandoning the role of Cleonice, Mildred fell asleep.

And, yes, she snored. Loudly. Persistently. Delightfully.

I love you, Mildred.

March 02, 2003

From today's Philadelphia Inquirer: "Our hats are off to the London press for its outstanding diva reportage of actress [sic] Jennifer Lopez -- in town last week to promote 'Maid in Manhattan.' She used six limos to take herself and a 30-person entourage from one London hotel to another -- and did we tell you the hotels were 100 yards apart?"

March 01, 2003

I know all of you would rather be living in Philadelphia. Who wouldn't, after all? And particularly now amid the late-winter/spring arts season, highlighted by, among other things, "Degas and the Dance," a major exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (through May 11).

I haven't been yet, so I can't offer my personal opinion, but the reviews, both here in Philadelphia and in Detroit, where the exhibit previously appeared at the Detroit Institute of Arts, have been terrific.

Okay, so you can't make it Philadelphia. Then let Philadelphia, or at least the Philadelphia Museum, or at the very least the Degas exhibit, come to you.

The museum has produced a top-notch online exhibition of "Degas and the Dance" that includes first-rate reproductions (taking into consideration the limitations of the medium) and an audio tour.

It's one of the best online exhibits I've ever seen, a testament to the power and value of the web. I wish more museums did this.


This is weird. I just found out Marcel Marceau is still kicking around. And, no, he hasn't found a new gig. He's still performing that stupid mime junk.

He's appearing in Philadelphia at the Perelman Theater from March 21 through March 23, for anyone that might care.


The Two-Eyed, One-Tailed, Lying, Stupid Poo-Poo Eater

Those of you without dogs are probably -- and blissfully, I might add -- unaware that dogs are prone to eating pooh.

Not only that but I've come to learn, from research in which I would have rather not engaged, that rabbit poop is considered by many dogs to be a particularly delightful treat. (More about that another day. Or never.)

It's really not a problem, nor is it a health hazard, provided the dog eats its own pooh.

My Bulldog Mildred, I'm ashamed to say, has in the past been a pooh-eater. Thankfully, I guess I'm supposed to interject here, Mildred has feasted solely upon her own excrement, and only, of course, when I'm not watching.

Before I started blogging I referred to this bizarre propensity on her part as "Mildred's Secret Shame." No secrets anymore, girl!

And now I'm sorry to report that Mildred is eating her pooh again.

Let's make the best of it, shall we?

Sing along!

She's a two-eyed, one-tailed, lying, stupid poo-poo eater,

Two-eyed, one-tailed, lying, stupid poo-poo eater . . .

[Post-publication addendum (March 6): Lyrics altered slightly on second thoughts.]