Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas from Bose

My friend Linda submitted a photo of my dog Bose to a national organization, Corgi Aid, for their Christmas Card. And he won! This card went out to Corgi Aid people all over the country -- and there are thousands!

Some background: Linda runs Pet's Second Chance, a not-for-profit organization in St. Louis focused on Corgis who have been abandoned by their owners due to divorce, moving, birth of children, and the many other reasons that families may no longer be able to keep their Corgi. I fostered Bose for Linda starting in October 2007 and eventually adopted him several months ago. Bose is both deaf and epileptic and has been helped by Corgi Aid.

Sunday, December 21, 2008


Two quick things:

1) Here in St. Louis, it's quite chilly on this first day of winter; the temperature is dropping all day to a forecasted low of one degree tonight.

2) Head on over to The Snikk Blog for a great posting about my canine buddy, Chilly Dog!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Frightening and jolly

My nephew Willie having some fun:

Monday, November 24, 2008

You'll want to reach out and hug "Bolt"

My freelance review:
If you love dogs, you'll love Bolt, Disney's new cartoon movie. (And if you don't love dogs, you should.)

The voice of John Travolta is the voice of Bolt, a dog who -- day after day -- faces danger and intrigue to rescue his "person" Penny (voiced by Miley Cyrus) from a new set of bad guys. He's quite the super-hero, but he's just doing what a dog should do -- kind of like an exaggerated version of barking at the mailman!

But it's all a facade. Bolt doesn't see the special effects crew making all of his Indiana Jones-style antics possible -- nor the cameras filming it all. That is all kept from him, for fear that if he finds out what's going on, neither he nor his #1 TV show would be quite the same.

Bolt is a delight, a sweet story with plenty of action, comedy and heart. Bolt says things that I imagine my own dogs saying, if they could talk. And after he accidently falls into a shipping box that sends him from Hollywood to New York, Bolt teams up with a jaded cat named Mittens and a sarcastic hamster named Rhino. Mittens helps Bolt realize the joys of being a normal dog -- for the first time, and the trio head cross-country to get Bolt back home to his "person."

I think Bolt is going to have great appeal throughout the holiday season. The animation, most of which is computer-generated, is superb but not overly-done. There's an overall beauty to the visuals that hark back to the old hand-drawn Disney classics.

And in select theatres, Bolt is in 3-D, making it all the more tempting to want to reach out and hug Bolt!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Polly the kitten

Some people can be so cruel and others so kind. Observe the stark contrast here:

Friday, October 17, 2008

"W." strives for acceptance

My freelance review of W., which opens today:
According to recent polls, nearly three-fourths of Americans disapprove of George W. Bush's performance as president.

Oliver Stone's new film W. explores aspects of this performance -- as well as Bush as a young adult trying to find his place in the world.

Josh Brolin (No Country for Old Men) is effective as Bush. He has many of his quirky mannerisms down as the film bounces back and forth between the post-9/11, wartime Oval Office and the 1980s/90s struggles between Bush and his father (played by James Cromwell).

The Oval Office scenes are mostly focused on the Iraq War and Bush's interactions with his immediate staff (including Richard Dreyfess' spot-on depiction of Dick Cheney, Scott Glenn's Donald Rumsfeld, Thandie Newton's Condoleeza Rice, and Toby Jones' rather creepy portrayal of Karl Rove).

At 131 minutes, the film is a bit on the long side. But there's a fair amount of humor interspersed within Stone's portrait of Bush, which is more human and complex than expected. Recurrently throughout the film, Bush is displayed as someone very much in need of his father's acceptance.

At this point, if you're among the 25% who approval of Bush's performance, you might want to refrain from seeing W. to keep your blood pressure in check. Otherwise, your political leanings will probably dictate just how much you would appreciate or not appreciate W.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

I really need to clean my patio door...

I really need to clean my patio door...
From left, Scooter, Oliver, Bose and Dawson.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Farmer's Market Bounty

These are the items I picked up from the Clayton Farmer's Market this morning: Free-range eggs laid yesterday, from a farm in New Florence, MO; a potato & chive focaccia bread (baked by nutritionists at St. Louis University); a variety of peppers; three ears of popcorn -- still on the cob; and a vine of American Bittersweet Berries (for decoration only!).

Monday, September 29, 2008

"Eagle Eye" is uneven but fun

My freelance review:
The new flick Eagle Eye, starring Shia LaBeouf, wants to be it all: a fast-paced, youthful political thriller complete with a message, amazing technical effects and awesome car chases. Oh, and a story that tugs every so often at your heartstrings and offers cutesy dialog during moments of extreme duress.

LaBeouf (fresh from the latest Indiana Jones flick) plays the twin brother of a recently-deceased government operative. He returns home from his brother's funeral only to find his apartment loaded with top-secret military weapons. A mysterious phone call sends him on a dangerous, prescribed run as a suspected terrorist. He's joined by a single mom (Michelle Monaghan) whose son has been kidnapped and whose actions are also being deliberately controlled.

Every move these two make is of the kind where the viewer's belief must not only suspended but completely thrown out the window. As our stars escape harm time after time, the surrounding violence and collateral damage is quite high, contributing to an uneven overall tone to the film.

Despite being about 20 minutes too long, there's still plenty of fun to be had with Eagle Eye, especially if you try not to think too hard about it. And this includes not thinking too hard about why they miscast Oscar-winner Billy Bob Thornton as an FBI agent. Someone like former Republican presidential candidate Fred Thompson would have fit the bill quite fine.

I have a feeling this will make for a great flick to catch on HBO some Saturday afternoon.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

In memory of Jenny

Sympathies to my friend Linda J. on the passing of her dog Jenny, shown below, at right. Linda had Jenny for 14 years and misses her greatly. Linda lost her other dog (Amy, also shown below) in June of last year.

Monday, July 07, 2008


My nephew Willie on Sunday afternoon with my foster dog Bose:
Buddies, 1 of 3
Buddies, 2 of 3
Buddies, 3 of 3

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Big head

My nephew Willie makes the funniest expressions!

Fun with fireworks

My nephew Willie enjoying a sparkler on the 4th of July. Full set of photos here.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Class reunion

My 25-year Althoff High School reunion was last Saturday night. I wasn't sure what to expect, but it was a nice and somewhat nostalgic evening. A fairly small turn-out -- around 50 of 235 -- but still a lot of fun. It was really great catching up with my friends Ray & Shari and Tom, all shown below. (We've let too much time pass!) Full set of photos here.
Althoff Class of '83 Reunion

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Father's Day

Happy Father's Day
This is my dad, back in the 1970s, sitting in his recliner, smoking his pipe and relaxing. The smile says a lot...

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Remember to tip your pinsetter

Went bowling Friday night at a place where the pins are reset by hand... there are only three pins per lane... the bowling balls are only 4-5 inches in diameter... you get up to three throws per frame! The place was The Corner Bar, a 140-year-old joint in old-town St. Charles. It was a fundraiser for Pet's Second Chance - Corgi Rescue, the group through which I am fostering Bose. The game is called "cocked hat pin bowling." The folks who work at The Corner Bar said that it's the only place in the whole world that still offers this kind of bowling! It was a lot of fun. For more information, click on the photo below and read its caption and "mouse-over" notes.
3-pin bowling lanes

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Whiskey footage

Ran across some footage of my friends Brian & Natalie's dog Whiskey from last summer. Whiskey passed away earlier this year, so this footage is all the more special...

Friday, May 16, 2008

Some sunlit color

Some sunlit color
After several days of rain, at lunchtime today I took advantage of an opportunity to allow the sun to provide the backlighting for this photo, taken looking up.

Sunday, May 04, 2008


I took this photo a few weeks ago, but we still have plenty of nice spring color on display in St. Louis due to a very cool spring.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

More spring color

Photos of a dogwood tree in my neighbor Joan's front yard. The tree is currently in full bloom.

A tree of flowers

Yellow bud

Monday, April 28, 2008

The Wii Me

I took the plunge and got a Nintendo Wii today! It's a lot of fun. Here's a video of the Wii version of me bowling. Note the resemblance! The Wii gives you a great ability to create a characterization of yourself. You pick your head shape, type of eyes, nose, mouth, hair, body shape and so forth.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

My backyard tulips

What a tulip!

I like the way the sunlight shines through the petals, and how you are able to tell where the petals are only one layer thick. For next year I want to plant a LOT more tulips!! More photos on flickr.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Tulip at dusk

Tulip at dusk
I took this photo of a beautiful, vibrant tulip shortly before sunset last night. It was a beautiful evening. I was on a dog walk with Oliver.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Spring budding

Spring budding
Trees are in all different stages of budding these days. Here's just one example in a photograph I took today at lunch.

Good food

Good food!
My favorite Chinese restaurant in U City has added a new neon window sign that's quite cool. Hon's Wok is located at 6900 Olive Blvd. in the Schnucks plaza. Inexpensive and quite delicious.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Party for Brian & Natalie

Photos from the April 5 party we had for Brian & Natalie are now online. A few of my favorites are below. The full set of photos is here.

The guests of honor





Friday, April 04, 2008

Giving up a pet for a significant other

On her blog, Ellen Ellick of the St. Louis Senior Dog Project writes about pet owners who give up their pets at the request or insistence of a new boyfriend/girlfriend or spouse:
Shouldn’t a request like this make you pause? Do you really want to be with someone who asks you to give up your pet? Is this something you ask of someone you love?
One of the stories that Ellen shares is a remarkable one with a rare outcome:
Snuffles, a Pug, lost his original home when his owner met a guy who wasn’t a dog person, so she gave Snuffles away to what she thought was a good home. Ultimately, the romance fizzled, and Snuffles’s former owner cried on the shoulder of a friend about the great dog she’d given up for this loser. She didn’t know how to contact the people who’d taken Snuffles from her. And she didn’t know they’d given Snuffles away.

Then things got interesting. The friend checked out one night, trying to find a Pug as great as Snuffles. That’s when she saw a Pug named Snuffles now with the Senior Dog Project. A phone call determined that this was the same Snuffles, once again in need of a new home.

In this case, we accomplished a great happy ending. Snuffles and his former owner left my home determined to grow old together. Tears flowed, and this is one woman who will never again give up a pet for anyone.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

This year, both seals and humans die

Canada's mass killing of baby seals has been interrupted by a deadly boat accident; details here.

The annual barbaric slaughter of seals is a cruel and unethical practice that produces a product nobody needs. Information is here on how to protest the annual seal killings.

Monday, March 24, 2008

"Ella" is on-stage at the Rep

My freelance review:
Arguably the finest female jazz singer of all time, Ella Fitzgerald comes alive again in Ella, the season closer for the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis.

The time is July 1966 and the place is a simple concert stage in Nice, France, where Ella is rehearsing for an upcoming concert to be recorded for her posterity. At the urging of her manager and friend Norman Granz, the private Ella, at age 49, relunctantly laces her performance with "patter" about her life. Ella begins to reminisce, uncovering a past her public never knew.

Actress Tina Fabrique plays Ella with a lot of gusto, charm and beauty. Her voice is quite beautiful, too, as she reenacts over twenty of Ella's classic songs.

The entire play is acted out on the same concert stage, with Fabrique on-stage throughout. Act 1 offers a stressed Ella in rehearsal recounting her first big break at the Apollo Theatre at age 17, as well as subsequent details in her career and personal life, such as her challenges in raising her son. The entire Act 2 is Ella's big show -- including more songs and patter.

We get to know a lot about Ella Fitzgerald from this play. Her life was not overly dramatic, especially compared to so many of the big stars of today. Fabrique's Ella comments, "I don't smoke, I don't drink, I don't sleep around. All I do is sing the songs."

Still, she had her share of ups and downs, including the death of her sister and the estrangement of her son.  Surprisingly, though, I didn't feel as strong of an emotional connection as I suspect there could have been had elements of Ella's patter been arranged differently.

The most memorable parts of Ella are the songs, with music ranging from the Gershwins, Irving Berlin and Cole Porter to Duke Ellington, Sonny Curtis and Johnny Mercer. Stand-out songs include "The Nearness of You," "They Can't Take That Away From Me" and "Blue Skies."

Ella plays through April 13 at the Rep.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Snowing on Easter!!

Here in St. Louis, it's snowing on Easter morning. Wet, very heavy snow flurries... Happy Easter to all!!

Friday, March 21, 2008

An early Easter

This year's Easter (on March 23) is quite early! Easter is always the first Sunday after the first full moon after the Spring Equinox (which is always March 20), so the earliest Easter ever can be is March 22.

Some interesting trivia about March 23: The last time Easter was on this date was in 1913 (95 years ago), and the next time Easter will be on this date is in 2228 (220 years from now).

And about March 22: The last time Easter was on this date was in 1818 (190 years ago), and the next time Easter will be on this date is in 2285 (277 years from now).

What all of this means: Looking back, none of us alive today has seen an Easter earlier than this year's; only those of us 95 or older have seen an Easter as early. And after this year, none of us alive today will see an Easter as early.

Special thanks to my sister-in-law Carolyn for sharing this interesting trivia!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Happy Spring!

I took this close-up of a star magnolia tree flower while on a dog walk on Mar. 24, 2007.

Monday, March 17, 2008

"Rabbit Hole" is a deeply moving, great play

My freelance review:
When he was a student at the Juilliard School, David Lindsay-Abaire was taught by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Marsha Norman that to write a great play, write about the thing that scares you the most in the world. A few years later, as a first-time father, Lindsay-Abaire identified the thing that would scare him the most in the world -- to lose a child.

In 2007, Lindsay-Abaire would become a Pulitzer Prize winning playwright for Rabbit Hole, a production of which closes the 30th season of the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis' Studio Theatre series.

And what a powerful, moving play it is! As the play opens, we discover a family life that's been torn apart by an unimaginable tragedy, the accidental death of Becca and Howie Corbett's four-year-old son. The couple is in grief and are drifting dangerously apart from one another and from the identities by which they have always defined themselves.

Their extended family includes Becca's younger sister Izzy, the wild child in local bars who strives to be the center of attention, while their mother Nat -- herself having coped with the loss of a grown son -- has a bit too much wine and bluntly shares her opinions, solicited or not.

This journey through grief and healing is bittersweet, rich and surprisingly funny at times, with most of the welcomed humor courtesy of the family eccentricities.

And the actors all do a great job, too. They come across as lovingly dysfunctional as any other family! Kudos to Victoria Adams-Zischke and Timothy McCracken as the parents, Ashley West as Izzy and Carolyn Swift as Nat.

A fifth cast member, Adam King, is a junior at Webster University's Conservatory of Theatre Arts and delivers a stunning, touching performance as Jason, the young man who was driving the car that hit and killed the Corbett's son.

The intimate nature of the 125-seat Studio Theatre works quite well for this intimate production. Solid directing comes from Jane Page in her debut at the Rep. Robert Mark Morgan's scenic design is creative, visually appealing and highly effective.

The Rep's Studio Theatre scored three great wins this season. Joining Rabbit Hole was The Clean House and The Vertical Hour. Next season's Studio Theatre plays have yet to be announced, but if this season's productions are any indication of what to expect, we will not be disappointed.

Rabbit Hole plays through Mar. 30.

"Miss Pettigrew" is a grand farce

My freelance review:
The first great comedy of 2008 has arrived in Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, the new film starring Academy Award winner Frances McDormand (Fargo).

Set in 1939 London, Miss Pettigrew is a grand farce from start to finish, with just enough sentiment thrown in for balance.

McDormand plays the title character, a middle-aged governess who is once again unfairly dismissed from her latest job -- and given up by the employment agency. Before leaving the employment agency, though, she happens to overhear of the need for a "social secretary" and -- despite not being qualified -- she goes directly to the penthouse apartment to interview for the position. A dizzying -- and hilarious -- sequence of events immediately transpire, and she has the position!

It's not easy being a social secretary, though. And especially given the social life of actress/singer Delysia Lafosse (an uproarious performance by Amy Adams). Delysia's greatest challenge is balancing her love lives -- all three of them!

One man in Delysia's orbit, an intimidating nightclub owner, offers her a terrific, ornate flat to live in. Another, an impressionable junior impresario, promises her a lead role in his new musical. And the other, a devoted musician, wants to marry her. Perhaps Miss Pettigrew will help her sort things out, especially with advice such as "choices just have to be made or you will miss out." And perhaps Miss Pettigrew will take some of her own advice along the way.

So it's not tough to see where the story ends up going. But Miss Pettigrew is all about the journey, not the destination. And for the most part, the journey is quickly-paced and very funny, a throwback to the stylish screwball comedies of the thirties and forties.

Miss Pettigrew is a lot of fun and is great entertainment.

Friday, March 14, 2008


One of my favorite dog photos... Scooter and Brandy saying hello to one another, from Feb. 6, 2003.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

So long, Whiskey

My friends Brian and Natalie lost their wonderful dog Whiskey last week. My sympathies to them. I recall going along with Brian, many years ago, when he met Whiskey as a puppy. Whiskey would have a very happy life.


Friday, February 29, 2008

Leap Day and Birthday

Brandy, Expression #1 Brandy, Expression #2 Brandy, Expression #3 Brandy, Expression #4
My late dog Brandy was born on Leap Day in 1992. If she were still around, today would be either her Sweet 16 or... just her 4th birthday! The above photos are from Feb. 6, 2003.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

My Oscar predictions... graded

Here's my report card... I got 14 correct out of 24, compared to last year's 15/24. How did you do?

Click for larger view.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

My complete list of Oscar predictions

Click for larger view.

The Oscars: What will/should win

Here's my take on what will/should win among the big categories at tomorrow night's Academy Awards... my full list of predictions is here...

Best Picture: No Country For Old Men will win, but its incoherent last thirty minutes ruined it for me. And while Atonement is the best of the nominated films, the real Best Picture is Into the Wild, Sean Penn's generally-overlooked masterpiece.

Best Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis, for There Will Be Blood, will and should win. He delivered a complex, multi-dimensional character and he carried the film.

Best Actress: Julie Christie, for Away From Her, will probably win. She has the buzz and hasn't take home an Oscar since 1965. I'm okay with any of the nominees winning except for Ellen Page. Her flip, over-the-top performance in Juno was the weakest part of a very funny movie.

Best Supporting Actor: Javier Bardem made for the creepiest bad guy in a long time in No Country For Old Men. He'll win, but I wish there was a way it could be a tie between him and Hal Holbrook for his poignant on-screen performance in Into the Wild.

Best Supporting Actress: It's kind of a toss up, but I'll predict that Tilda Swinton will win for Michael Clayton (a film I generally disliked). I'd like to see Saoirse Ronan, the "evil sister" in Atonement, win. In fact, she'd make a great sidekick for Javier Bardem in something like Still No Country For Old Men. Hmmmm...

What/who do you think will win?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


Hillary's latest big supporter, Chilly Dog:

Photo courtesy of Chilly Dog's owner.

Monday, February 18, 2008

A vacation to enrich your life?

My cousin Brenda told me about a great place to go for a great vacation: The John C. Campbell Folk School in North Carolina. Brenda is passionate about photography and has gone to the Folk School for a week to take one of their photography classes. The school, a not-for-profit organization, also offers classes in many other subjects.

The Folk School is listed as the first entry the "Arts & Crafts Getaways" section of National Geographic's The 100 Best Vacations to Enrich Your Life, a travel guide that explores life-enhancing vacation possibilities in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

Jan Davidson, Director of Folk School, comments:
While many students come to learn a new craft or enhance their skills, most students would agree that they leave the Folk School with much more than the objects they have created and the new skills they have acquired. As student Sharon McGrew recently commented, “The mix of folks is great -- older, younger, locals, travelers, first-timers, veterans -- a great sense of community. I not only felt the spirit of the place, I felt a part of it."
I need some inspiration to take my photography hobby to the next level. And I'd also welcome a vacation that's relaxing and peaceful. The Folk School may be the ticket...

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Goodbye to Aunt Margie

My Aunt Margie passed away on Thursday. She was a very kind and caring person, and she will be missed. She is shown in the photo below (at center, with a big smile!) from last summer's family reunion; click on the photo for a larger view.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Man aims to find missing dog for seriously-ill wife

As his wife lies in a neurological intensive care unit at Barnes-Jewish since the day of her terrible car wreck on Feb. 3, Larry Brotherton Jr. counts his blessings that his five young step-daughters survived the accident with just a few scratches. But he wants to be able to tell his wife -- when she wakes up -- that everyone from the car is fine. To do so means that he'll have found his wife's cherished dog, Rocket, a three-year-old rat terrier/beagle mix who jumped out of the wrecked car and ran away. "They are very close... I want him back before she regains consciousness," Brotherton says in a posting on Craigslist. Additional information available in a St. Louis Post-Dispatch article.

On Saturday, several of us from the Mattie missing dog search are going to St. Charles to help look for the dog. If interested in going along, let me know.