Friday, February 28, 2014


Mom and dad have been working very hard lately, keeping me in bones and dog toys. So to decompress, the three of us took off last weekend for the Central Coast. The ostensible reason was the 14th Annual Solvang Greyhound Fest. Billed “The Danish Capital of America,” One weekend every year, the town (renowned for its quaint, European-style architecture and decadent bakeries) puts out the Danish 'Welcome' mat for former racing dogs and their human adoptive parents. Over the course of two days, we saw hundreds of the sleek rocket hounds. I invited them all to play but only a few of the youngsters answered the call. At first I thought the leggy divas were just too full of themselves but then some rescue folks explained that Greyhounds spend their early lives in kennels, surrounded by only their handlers and other Greyhounds. Not surprisingly, they tend to view other dogs, even this lovable Pit Bull, as an alien species. At least no one complained about having a 'gangsta'  pit bull crash the party. Whenever someone did ask about my lineage, Lou would say, "Tanner's a Greyhound that's been hitting the weights and taking 'roods". In addition to ogling dogs, we took the opportunity grab some fine eats at La Super Rica in Santa Barbara,The Hitching Post in Buelton and Root 246 in Solvang. 
Tanner & Eugenie crash the 14th Annual Solvang Greyhound Fest
Tanner & Lou soaking up the Danish sun
Every year, the three of us put our heads together to pick the Oscar winners. Lou thinks he's the expert, but mom and I took him to school in 2012 when Uggie led The Artist to a Best Picture win. Thanks to SAG screeners, we managed to see most of this year's nominees and here are our predication: Best Director: Alfonson Cuaron for Gravity. Best Picture: Dallas Buyers Club, with Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor nods Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto. Kate Blanchett cops Best Actress for Blue Jasmine, while Jennifer Lawrence of American Hustle grabs her second golden dwarf for Best Supporting Actress. Finally, Best Screenplays to 12 Years A Slave (Adapted), and Dallas Buyers Club (Original).
Speaking of awards….A few weeks back, the American Kennel Club held its 138th Westminster Dog Show at New York's Madison Square Garden. We watched both nights and felt that the American Staffordshire Terrier was clearly the pick of the blue blood litter. In case you're wondering, our choice had nothing to do with the fact that I'm an AmStaff. We also liked the Pug (for Dudley) the Irish Setter (for Rebel) and the Miniature Bull Terrier (for Maynard). The crowd went gaga for Nathan, a goofy Bloodhound but, in the only pick that mattered, the Judge selected 'Sky' a wire haired Fox Terrier, as this year's top dog. Disappointed as we were, we were happy for Sky, who's a hometown Malibu dog.
'Sky' takes the Blue Ribbon at MSG

Monday, February 17, 2014


Yes, we know we're late with this but we were busy celebrating Lou's Valentine birthday or, as mom calls it, his birthday month. It's a lot of commotion but he's a very good pet guardian who deserves the fuss. I didn't get to go along but they started with dinner at the Sage Room in Agoura on Thursday, then lunch at Joe's, Venice on Friday, take out pizza from Gjelina (also on Abbott Kinney) then a Sunday afternoon UCLA basketball victory over Utah (courtesy of Popito), capped off by a birthday feast at Gene and Sandra's, complete with a Sweet Lady Jane chocolate cake. 
                                                                     ~ ~ ~
Since the past week was devoted to love and lovers, we thought you'd get a kick out of these stories that came across our desk. First, there's a heartwarming (in one instance, moose warming) video about humans coming to the aid of animals in need. There's also a side-splitting clip of a combative kitty, doing his best to deter the postman from the 'swift completion of his appointed rounds'. Then there are these photos of a zookeeper's mamma dog (I think a Canne Corso) that stepped in to raise an orphaned chimpanzee. So what if the new 'pup' has hands, not paws. 

'All you need is love!'
Finally, take a peek at the shocking images I promised earlier. Be sure to shoo  the kids and puppies away before screening these. Don't want to give them any ideas. 

Tuesday, February 4, 2014


I promised Lou we could share this post but first I wanted to crow a little about how GIMME SHELTER was just named a 2014 B.R.A.G. MEDALLION Honoree in Nonfiction. The Book Readers Appreciation Group is a private organization whose mission is to discover new and talented self-published authors and help them give their work the attention and recognition it deserves. Their primary focus is fiction but they selectively consider non-fiction books as well. In light of the rigorous selection process, we're very flattered to be selected.
                                                                                       ~ ~ ~
Since Gimme Shelter is the story of a homeless pit bull that 'saves' his wayward human guardian, we thought we'd share the tale of some elderly nuns who courageously adopted a senior rescue pit bull named Remy. Given the recent scandals involving the Catholic Church, it's great to see these ladies walking their talk in the style of Saint Francis. Read the story.

I begged Tanner to surrender the keyboard so I could say 'farewell' to my good friend and mentor, PETER CHETTA, who passed away earlier this week. Peter taught English at my alma mater, Iona College, for 53 years! We met when I was just a green and not especially literate sophomore, grappling with the giants of American Literature. A lawyer and Fullbright Scholar who spoke Chinese, Peter was a gentleman, and raconteur, a man who could and would relate to anyone, regardless of their station. A man for all seasons. A diehard theatre and opera lover, he saw thousands of shows, amassing a huge collection of Playbills, signed by such luminaries as The Godfather himself,  Marlon Brandon. No venue was too small or remote, which explains why he got to see your truly back in my acting days. Regardless of the show or my part, he was always upbeat and supportive. And he was especially thrilled with GIMME SHELTER, as if by writing it I'd fulfilled the potential he saw in me. To paraphrase Horatio's speech to Hamlet: "He was an admirable King (of teachers).  We shall not look upon his like again." 
                                                                          ~ ~ ~
Lastly, some long overdue book reviews:
Point Dume by Katie Arnoldi - Not For Locals Only.  Marry The Endless Summer, Savages and Slackers, shake it up and add a local perspective and a wicked sense of humor and you have Katie Arnoldi's novel Point Dume. The action centers on the Malibu culture clash between the old-time surf culture, the rich yuppie invaders and cartel pot growers using the nearby mountains as an 'el norte' nursery but Arnoldi's real forte lies in skewering the players on all sides. If you're wondering what Malibu was like before it was 'Fabulous', Point Dume will set you straight and entertain you, too.

The Sacred Art of Listening by Kay Lindahl - I became aware of the book at an open mic night where Ms. Lindahl spoke. Her gentle wisdom moved me to buy the book and I'm glad I did. Veteran New Age seekers will recognize much of the wisdom in this slender but impactful volume. In forty short but moving essays, the writers explains how listening differs from mere hearing, and how learning to truly do so can be a life-altering event.