Friday, August 05, 2005

Free Cars in Hell

I was reviewing for deletion or archival perhaps 50 VoIP voicemails today on my main computer (conveniently forwarded to me by Lingo as wav files attached to e-mails). Basically, trying to dig up a little extra disk space on the olde harde drive. (As you are well aware, 120 gigabytes fill up way too fast . . . . Remember when a 1.2 meg 5.25 inch floppy disk was a miracle? When a floppy actually could FLOP? We inhabit an era of orders-of-magnitude future shock. Plus the spare new 300-gig drive I just installed wants a BIOS upgrade on my truly ancient 2-year-old primo computer, just to be able to use more than 127 GB. But the upgrade requires writing a bootable CD-R that for some reason is not up to the task.) However, I have sufficiently digressed.

So this one message that turned up caught my fancy. A promotion that somehow slipped through the federal no-call block list I heartily support as a consumer (and, as a Upoc employee, compartmentalize from the marketing activities of my employer). It offered a cool deal in its pre-recorded spiel, starting with six powerful words, "Hi! We're giving away free cars!" Well, as it happens, I have barely one month left on a 4-year lease, so "free cars" caught my attention. Shit. Wheels is wheels. And free is fantastic. So I listened on . . .

This is the entire transcript, spoken by an earnest young female, word for word:

(I have naturally attached the original audio, for your legal pleasure.)

"Hi! We're giving away free cars! Yes, you heard it right. We're willing to give you a brand new car for free! This is not a lottery or any kind of trick.

"Where's the catch? Nowhere! You simply get to drive it with our advertising on it and keep the brand new free car for two years. There is more. We will pay you to do that! You could make between $400 and $3,200 a month, just to drive around, minding your business, the same way you're doing it every day. In fact, you're doing it right now . . . not even knowing that you could actually get paid for it!

"If you don't want a brand new free car, we can put our vinyl in movable advertising on your existing car. If the one you already own is a little beat up, then you will get to pimp your ride and you're on your way, looking good! (As long as you're making between 800 and 4,000 miles a month.)

"Our cars are all covered in colorful vinyl removable advertising and look really cool.

"If this is not a good deal, well, we don't know what else is. In order to sign up, please log onto our website at WWW - FREECARFREECASH - dot -COM.


and in various inflections,


increased earnisty:


That is then followed by a somewhat embarrassed, terse, "Thank you," and a speech-synthesized, "GOODBYE".

Laurel, in typical lickety-split fashion, clicked off to the Web site and read the fine print aloud. Considering, we sorta realized we accumulate. . . um, not exactly four thousand, but rather maybe four, just four, miles a month. "How far is it to the Wendy's?" I asked Laurel.

"Damn, we really might not qualify," thought I in abject depression, while visualizing one end of the colorful car up on blocks, spinning the driving wheels to rack the odometer.

Then we both said, in typical synchronicity, "Who else of our close friends and loved ones might benefit from this incredible offer?"

Oh, of course, Biggo, the brother of my ExGF. Plug in his zip code -- 29401 . . . "Congratulations!" came back the Web reply. "The FreeCar finder has found programs available in your area." Wow, this is cool. All my relatives, gainfully employed.

Say. How about, Petey, the brother of . . . of ME. In the middle of the Arizona desert. Try that zip. 85212 . . . "Congratulations!" again.

So then the light began to break over the mental horizon. ZIP code? Rip code! Is no ZIP sacred?

Plug in 66666. (No way 66666 is a legitimate zip, right?)

The Internet paused but a nanosecond. "Congratulations!"

Just to confirm, ever for authenticity, Laurel checked the Web for the geographical location of 66666 and -- big surprise -- it was not listed. Ah ha!

So then we knew. The progenitor of this incredible offer was none other than the D-man, himself, Sir Satan. And that sexy voicemail was left by Satan's Secretary. (Mmmm, I'll bet she's hot!)

Free cars? Oh yeah!

Just As We Thought.

Monday, July 25, 2005

What are the odds?

We live in a charmingly funky part of Brooklyn, not quite Flatbush, not Crown Heights, definitely not as stuck-up as Park Slope. It's a neighborhood where it's rude not to say 'Hi' to passers-by or 'Good Morning' to your neighbors. Where cute 3-year-olds hang out on the sidewalk while their mothers work in the braiding salons. Where folks compliment your tree pit flower garden; and others drop bottle caps into it. It is a neighborhood rich with cultures. And often rich with noise, from Friday night stoop parties, to booming window-rattling ghettocruisers, to summer firecrackers, to car-alarm-triggering thundercycles, to the dollar-vans hurtling up and down Flatbush Avenue who serenade with sour air horns trumpeting the theme from The Godfather, to Mr. Softee trucks driving you up the wall with their relentless ditty torture.

Anyway, oh yeah, The Odds. . .

So this morning I am trotting up Flatbush, heading for the Subway, late for work as usual, when, approaching from the north I espy not only a minority male Caucasian, but one walking what I would swear is a Tibetan Terrier.

Now, back when I lived in Manhattan for all those years, this kind of encounter had become, in the 1990s, a pleasant, but increasingly frequent experience. Harrigan came into my life in early 1989 and we felt for many years like breed pioneers, while the rest of the cool people caught up. Still, the companionship was more important than the exclusivity.

At this point, I must comment on the strange process that compels one to identify a TT from a distance. There is clearly some primitive part of the brain that assimilates one's perception of the physical characteristics of a crucial species, when primed by the excreted endocrine that determines: "Live or Die, Love or Wither". My brother and I grew up with the uncanny ability to identify, from a mere swoosh or tailfin, any American automobile make, model and year from 1954 to 1980; not to mention many European creations. This must have been crucial to the survival of our forebears, Nascar fans all, I presume.

Moreover, I have extended this ability to breeds one might encounter walking around an Upper West Side Manhattan block, dog run, or possibly even Westminster. The latter ability certainly developed from my ex-gf's and my search back in the 80's for "the perfect dog". To cut a long tale short, we realized that Tibetan Terriers were really cool: laid-back, bred for personality, intelligent, always playful, spiritual, came in many colors, not too big, not too small. . . simply, perfect. The AKC thumbnail description says, "The Tibetan Terrier is a medium-sized dog, profusely coated, of powerful build, and square in proportion. A fall of hair covers the eyes and foreface. The well-feathered tail curls up and falls forward over the back. The feet are large, flat, and round in shape producing a snowshoe effect that provides traction. The Tibetan Terrier is well balanced and capable of both strong and efficient movement." Yet they don't even mention the g-d Tibetan monks responsible for it all.

Having raised Harry from a mere slip of a pup, it was funny and impressive to see him develop into the "powerful build and square proportion". What a truly apt description that is: a TT manages to combine poofiness and powerful squareness into a single package. I was constantly amazed by his sure-footed cavorting over the alpine furniture peaks and valleys of the living room. One of my favorite moments as he matured, limbs growing towards greyhoundness, was the incident, while doing his high-speed puppy cruise into the living room under tables onto to the couch and its backrest altitudes, when he swooped beneath the coffee table and, for the very first time, bumped his head. Ha! Sucks to grow up, doesn't it?

Even now, at sixteen years of age and trimmed of all that annoying matted fur into a strange summer-puppy-saluki-cut, it is amusing to see his defiant stance, front elbows sticking out like an anorectic Popeye the Sailor, as he anticipates the customary "which hand?" game and subsequent cookie reward.

Oh, did I digress? Again? Apologies!

So I approach this guy on Flatbush Avenue and his dog with the old, "Excuse me, but isn't that a Tibetan Terrier?" line. And he looks at me with serious New York City mistrust, "Yes, it is. How do you know?" And I go into the usual, "Well I have one too. He's sixteen years old now. We live on Fenimore Street."

And he says, "Why haven't I seen you walking him here?"

To which I counter, "Well, we walk him in the yard. Sixteen years old, y'know." [What I don't say is, one of the main reasons we decided not to walk him on the street is the incredible amount of chickenbonez. What is it that people can toss their stripped bonez like popsicle sticks? It was bad enough on the Upper West Side with random bagels and foie gras; drove Harry bonkers. But here on Chickenbone Alley (I mean Fenimore Street) he'd be absolutely impossible to deal with.]

So we discuss where our dogs came from -- both Pennsylvania it turns out, though Harry was Rocky Hills Farm and the newcomer was somewhere else -- I don't remember, Somerset county? I mentioned Harry's breeder's name, Harrigan by coincidence, but it rang no bells. This other dog's name was Chip.

So I greeted him, let him sniff my hand briefly then patted his head. He was the usual, "Yah, you're a human and I will acknowledge your attention, even make you feel a little loved, but you really are interrupting my round-the-block with my buddy who thinks he's my master. Be thankful I don't bite you. Just kidding. You're okay." Plus, I was late for work.

So I made motions to plunge ahead into the day. I confirmed I lived on Fenimore, and he, on Rutland. He never really smiled, but this was more like an UWS encounter than a Lefferts Gardens one. I figured, when we needed to establish any further contact, we could stake out the corner around 9:00 AM and take it from there. Plus I prefer to leave all that really human contact stuff to Laurel. She does it so much better.

So anyway. . . what the hell are the odds?

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Harry Peruses Art

Party Time

I've been saving this picture for the right moment and I think it is upon us: Harry celebrates an anniversary at a garden party. He is, after all, a party dog. (Not to play, of course, on the AKC parti-colored breeds; though he sports both brindle and turquoise, especially after Hillary’s inspirational work with watercolor markers.)
Anyway, here is Harry, in the lap of luxury, that of his natural human mother: Hillary, who raised him from a pup.
The white object standing on a pole in the background is a Manhattan bus stop sign procured after an East Side automobile accident. The gilt object of Harry’s desire (or at least mine) was a street find passed on from friends June & Edmund. Cig accent: True Green 100.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

OMG Harry

Harry prospered through his sixteenth birthday celebration. I'll get the snapshot of the lamp shade on his head uploaded soon.

Oh c’mon now, that is 112 years in Purina-human terms. He continues to be his curmudgeonly self, sleeping 36 hours a day, yet playing like a puppy when he wants a cookie or choosing to disparage our TiVo selections favoring Law and Order over Animal Planet. Like human decogenarians, he seems to be focused on his alimentary regularity. The basics. And friendship.

Harry's a dog. My best friend. Nothing less.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Saturday, January 29, 2005

What is Forever in Dog Years?

As we approach the sixteenth celebration of Harrigan’s birth, certain responsibilities start clanging my subconscious bells. We’ll need pictures. And an Iams Cake. What about a party?
Obviously, for his audience, he must be presentable: clean, neat, bangs trimmed, claws clipped, glands purged. (That may sound a little dog-show-ish, but really, he feels much better after a grooming. The breeze flows through his long multihued fur as he assumes a jaunty canter. I myself feel much more streamlined after my semi-annual $14 haircut next to the Wall Street Subway entrance. Though the next morning, looking in the bathroom mirror, I admit to creeping homicidal tendencies towards the scissors-wielder. Of course, that is really transference of the more appropriate quinquagenary-phobic suicidal inevitability. But I digress.)
Anyway, this being an excuse to post a couple of really cute pictures of Harry “then” . . . so that when we see him later “now” we’ll be sufficiently moved by the grinding passage of time . . . without further dissemblance . . .

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Nose Deep

In less than a month, Harry will be celebrating his 16th birthday. I promise a big party and costumes. You’re all invited.
This morning he woke up around noon (it’s Saturday after all) and, trotting into the front yard, soon began reconnecting with his Tibetan roots, sniffing at the snow starting to fall as predicted. I shoveled once today, just to keep it from building up too much; the effect was short lived. After an evening of dire warnings on every channel and a venture into the 9 inches of stuff (Harry is just a small-medium, photos below) now we’re off to bed. Here we are in the middle of a record snow blizzard, they say, and the worst is yet to come.
I will dream of the full moon and high tide and unusual sunspot aurora. Harry will gallop across fields of white, his suddenly long wolfhound limbs splashing crystal rainbow sprays, as he allows the Irish setter of his fantasies to catch up, in exquisitely slow motion.

Nose Deep

Tibetan True

Sunday, January 09, 2005


One of Harry’s favorite nocturnal pastimes is to troll for used tissues or paper towels. These are the usual paper products you keep in the bedroom for the usual bedroom purposes: flu and allergy byproducts, whatever. It’s not exactly an attractive habit, but, after all, he’s a dog. (Cats, as we know from TV, will unreel perfectly fresh toilet paper just for the hell of it, but turn up Her collective nose at bodily output. Especially Her own.)
If Harry’s lucky, he may find an errant sneeze catcher that has fallen on the floor by the bed. But failing that, he will click clack from room to room at 3:00 A.M. trying to gain access to various wastepaper baskets and their constantly changing treasures. We have adjusted as best as possible and elevated several beyond reach. You may have wondered why our wastebaskets are conveniently at eye level; now you know.
Periodically, inevitably, he will find a reward. Then the never-off internal parental sentry wakes us to contented grunting, shredding, and swallowing sounds from somewhere in the darkness beyond the foot of the bed. We may jump to intervene, tell him he’s BAD and attempt to grab what bits remain, in the process quadrupling our heart rate. Or we may roll over.
The following day is the best part, with several trips to the front yard, first by Harry, then by one of us to pick up (whoever wins the bet, in my opinion). I am fascinated by his creativity and revel in the interesting formations of his striated fecal papier mâché. Not to dwell on it, but the tonal range and marbling are exquisite. Certainly not as colorful or garish as when he ate a bag of jellybeans, but more like the attractive wood grain in some weathered oak, twisted by the forces of nature and time (four hours or less).
I have suggested that, with this paper fixation, Harry is actually being thoughtful and neat (even catlike?), cleverly arranging to automatically wipe his ass as he shits. Of course, Laurel disagrees.

White Brick Lino

I have billions and billions of pictures of Harrigan. I even span the analog-to-digital eras during which Kodak got really nervous. Harry has done his bit to keep them profitable, from Kodacolor neg shots I used to C41 process myself, to their nifty digicam dye-sub printing kiosks. I am trying to balance the woodlewog posts between journal and photog, cloying and factual. So here are a couple of pictures that contrast his demeanor, spanning a few years on the very same linoleum tile that graced our tiny kitchen on 89th Street. I’m sure that even now, if you dig a little under the Russian landlord’s renovation that evicted us, you’ll find a shard of white brick lino. And maybe a crunchee.



Saturday, January 08, 2005

Harrigan SMS Diary

A couple years ago, Harrigan "borrowed" Laurel's cellphone, joined the wireless community on Upoc and started sending SMSes to “Harrigan Diary.” He documented some of his exploits, including getting into a package of Roach Motels and a visit from my sister’s family. Then he dropped out when no bitches holla’d back.

twoday I hmped my male persun looeys leg bkaus I luv him

tonit I went for a wok in NY but ther was nothing to eat in the gutr.

Tonite I barkd for fud but all I got was cruncheez. It sux.

Never eet litl blak plastik boxes beekaus they smel gud. They ar bad!

If you hav to pee at nite, do it in a pile of clothes, so your humans dont know!

inlaws r visiting. i luv visitrs! they smel so difrunt! not nooyork. not brukln. sum plac calld pencilvanya. wuz i born ther?

Today I peed inside the house. Then I went back to bed. The end.