Monday, May 23, 2011

Nothin' But a Hound Dog

Up to my hips in book-stuff, but I'm having the best time creating collective nouns for dogs. I started this a couple of nights ago on Twitter, when someone Tweeted they had been lovingly mauled by a group of six pugs.

I decided there was a better name for a group of pugs. After some thought, I declared a collection of pugs is now a bumble of pugs. This was satisfying and better than doing my book-research, so I continued. I was launching some of these on Twitter; I'll note if I remember who came up with the ones which aren't my idea.

A Bumble of Pugs
A Yap of Yorkies
A Commission of Corgis
An Asylum of Dalmatians
A Swiffer of Llasa Apsos
A Mob of Beagles
UPDATE: It's now A Bay of Beagles (Thank you, TimWarp)
A Furrow of Shar-Peis (Thank you, Consort)
A Patrol of German Shepherds
A Shiver of Chihuahuas (Thank you, Sarawr)
A Crew of Labradors
A Hamlet of Great Danes (Thank you, Daughter)
A Phalanx of Rottweilers
A Link of Daschunds (Consort)
A Cloud of Pomeranians
A Pool of Mastiffs
A Wave of Poodles
UPDATE: I stand corrected; it's A Puddle of Poodles (Thank you, Multiple Sources)
A Wodehouse of Cocker Spaniels

A Blizzard of Huskies  (Thank you, Marni)
An Academy of Border Collies (Thank you, Wayne Decker)
A Raft of Newfoundlands (Marni)
A Parliament of Afghans (Thank you, Jennie Davies)
A Coronation of Cavaliers (Thank you, D. Garey)
A Coalition of Cattle Dogs (Thank you, Sara J. Henry)
A Posse of Bloodhounds (Thank you, Howard)
A Ring of Boxers (Thank you, Multiple Sources)
A Waggle of Boykin Spaniels (Thank you, Deb)
A Party of Pitbulls (Thank you, Anon. Really.)
A Suite of Papillon (Thank you, Rebekah)
A Clique of Bichon Frise (Rebekah)
A Clump of Pulis (Rebekah)
A Scoop of Neapolitan Mastiffs (Rebekah, who must be avoiding something truly dire.)
A Fjord of Norwegian Elkhounds (Thank you, Anonymous)
A Flock of Sheepdogs (Thank you, BMHicks)
A Delegation of Dobermans (Thank you, Anonymous)
A Glissade of Greyhounds (Thank you, Kathryn)
A Motley of Mutts (Thank you, Multiple Sources)
A Tide of Golden Retrievers (Thank you, Anonymous)

Heads up: I think pitbulls are unfairly maligned and their bad behavior can be nearly always traced back to the owners. I'd love a name for them, but it's going to need to be positive or at least neutral. If you want more information on the breed, go to

Now, it's your turn. If I think yours is the correct collective noun, I'll add it to the list and credit you. It's completely subjective, but ever afterwards, if someone searches "Collective nouns for dogs," you'll be the voice of authority.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

It's the Food

When I asked for questions, the lovely Robin Raven asked me to follow up on something I had Tweeted recently about veganism. The story goes like this:

I haven't eaten meat more than ten times since I was fourteen. Eggs, yes. Milk products, yes. Fish, no. Nothing with a face.

[Although I should clarify I eat Peeps.]

I do this for a couple of reasons. Reason one is that I never much liked meat anyway, so it's not much of a deprivation, save one; I think most soy products are credible enough to fill the need but I wish bacon came from a plant. I do miss bacon. But the other reason I don't eat meat is that I don't like the mega-farming industry. The animals suffer. The environment suffers.The independent farmers scraping out a living on the margins, forced to cut costs to keep contracts with large companies, suffer. I'm not so naive that I think death is avoidable if I skip the branzino; it's my adding to suffering which bothers me. If I could afford to eat nothing but animals who lived a good life with one bad day at the end, I would. Since I can't afford to eat those animals who lived decently, I choose not to eat any at all. Until she was about eight, Daughter was a vegetarian. Because I don't want this to become a thing -- a thing her mother was a maniac about and held her hostage to -- I always swore if she understood why I didn't eat meat and still wanted to eat meat, she could. About 30% of the time, she does.

A few weeks ago, the family was eating dinner together. I had made Consort and Daughter a dish which involves kale, whole-wheat pasta and Italian sausage. They dove in happily; I ate my kale and looked on, pleased. Daughter waved a fork of her dinner at me.

"You should just try it," she implored. "It's delicious."

"Thrilled to hear it, honey," I said. "But you know my feelings about the meat industry. Just be happy I'm not dragging Chew on This [The kid's version of Fast Food Nation] out for a little light dinner-reading."

She clucked her tongue. "You wear leather shoes, you eat cheese and butter. Eggs, too." she noted, "You think those animals are happier?"

The books on parenting never mentioned the age when your child would shine a Kleig light on your hypocrisy. Consort said firmly, "Leave your mom alone" which, you will note, is not the same thing as saying, "What you are saying isn't true." What she was saying was true, and it merited attention. My shoes are leather. My cheese and my precious butter comes from cattle who have milk to give because their calves were separated from them. Those eggs aren't coming from chickens living in small cheerful coops in someone's back yard. My food and my fashion involve some misery. I've tried being vegan a grand total of eight days in my life and stopped because I felt deprived and because I grew tired grilling waiters about food preparation. But I am ready to start thinking about it again. But there's so much to think about.

So, we begin with leather. I got a wonderful purse from Dean in Silverlake for Christmas, which I won't junk because that's wasteful and, candidly,that cow is already quite dead, but won't replace with another leather purse when it wears out. I've been skimming vegan-shoe websites and while many of the shoes are adorable, they're adorable in a "Grad student at Berkeley" kind of way. I'm the Venn diagram where "Concerned about reducing her carbon and suffering footprint" crosses over "Hopelessly preppy" and there are very few shoes in that category. Thanks to Payless, I can get leather-free espadrilles for the summer, but the winter will eventually arrive, as minimal as it is in Los Angeles. Where, oh where, are the cute preppy loafers for the vegan crowd?

Wool might be a challenge. What am I saying? I live in a city where you wear a wool-sweater because you feel like pretending to be Ali McGraw in Love Story, not because it's actually necessary.

I'd miss cheese. I'd miss cheese a lot. When you don't have much of a sense of smell, as I do, you don't have much of a sense of taste. Big cheeses make me very happy. On Thanksgiving, we sit on the beach and have a picnic. I have no turkey. I don't like stuffing. Sweet potatoes taste like paste-glue to me. But I have a big stinky cheese or two and am thankful.

And then there's butter. I love butter. Just search the word toast in this blog and discover it's a miracle I haven't had massive myocardial infarction already, such is my love of butter. And then I look at my child and see my hypocrisy and realize that even though she's already forgotten about it, I haven't. Vegatarianism was easy; if I take the next step, it's going to be with a chorus of my own whining. It might be the right thing to do, but it certainly won't be the gracious thing to do.

I'll tell you this, though; if gin and tonics turn out to have animal by-products in them, I'm going to just live as a hypocrite.

Deep Thought

Happiness is not an exceptional tweezer, but owning an exceptional tweezer increases the odds of a happy life.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Patrick Thomas Dwyer 1964-9/11/2001

Tonight, I run this for him. I participated in the 2,996 Project, for which 2,996 bloggers volunteered to write a memorial for one person who perished in the attacks on 9/11.

Patrick Thomas Dwyer, 37, Nissoquogue, NY. Bond trader at Cantor Fitzgerald. Left behind a wife JoAnn, a son Brendan and a daughter Sarah, who were five and three at the time of their father’s death.

When Patrick was randomly assigned to me, I stared at my computer screen blankly for a long time. Weeks, in fact. I wanted to do the right thing by this man, but what do I say which doesn’t become political, maudlin, or somehow all about me? Even the best eulogy becomes as much about the speaker as the departed, and I don’t claim to write a world-class eulogy. The memorial becomes exponentially more difficult when you don’t know the person intimately, and I had no desire to write something general and inane about how he was a nice person and that this was such a tragedy. My first rule with this blog has always been: “Tell the truth, Quinn, as best as you can”, and I certainly wasn’t going to break that rule now.

I never met Patrick Thomas Dwyer. From what I have read about him, this is my loss. Patrick loved what he did for a living and did it well enough to find plenty of time to enjoy his family and friends. He and his wife centered their lives on their kids and their friends and extended family. They loved entertaining.I have never met nor spoken to anyone in his family. I do, however, know what it’s like to have your father die when you are very young.

The brutality of losing a parent when you are a child is that the death continues to reverberate forever. It isn’t a huge single loss; it’s a continuum of huge single losses.Patrick was there to teach his son to ice-skate, but he wasn’t there to teach his daughter.He was there to see his son go to school for the first time, but not his daughter.Brendan will remember him, and probably idolize him his entire life. Sarah might not have anything but filaments of memories from a birthday party or an afternoon at their pool that last summer of 2001 -- memories which are half-real, half constructions from photos she has seen or stories she has heard. Brendan and Sarah will grow up, and laugh, and cry, and slam doors, and graduate, break bones and win awards. And each time something happens in their lives their father will be dead.

Within their family and their community, they will be Patrick and JoAnn’s kids. There will be plenty of people around them eager to tell them what a funny guy their father was, what a sports fan and a true friend, and what a great marriage their parents had. But as they grow up, and make new friends and meet new people, there will always be that hanging question: “You were how old when your father died? When did he die? Oh my God, did he die on 9/11?”At the least likely moments, when all they want to do is be normal and anonymous, they will be forced to embody a national trauma and to relive the greatest pain a family can endure.For a while after my father died, I told inquisitive strangers -- people I never expected to see again -- that my parents had gotten a divorce because that was accepted without further comment. A dead father led to more personal interrogation than I was prepared to undergo. Until my thirties, I would actively avoid telling people he died on the last day of shooting of “The Goodbye Girl”, because the combination of pity and curiosity was nearly unbearable. Brendan and Sarah will never stop being victims of 9/11 and I feel so wretched for some of the stupid and thoughtless things people are going to say to them in years to come.

If Consort gets home late, after Daughter is sleeping, he will always go in and kiss her goodnight. Being a very sound sleeper, she takes this with nothing more than a slight break in her teeth-grinding and maybe a murmured grunt. But Consort doesn’t mind. He says, “She knows I kissed her goodnight. Her skin knows it". With a father who took the 5:20 train every morning to get to his desk at the World Trade Center, I bet Sarah and Brendan had a lot of kisses left upon them when they were sleeping. I hope their skin remembers. I hope his kisses give them some comfort today, and every day of their lives.

JoAnn Dwyer, my condolences on your loss. I wish I had met Patrick. I wish I had no reason to be writing about him.