Monday, April 27, 2009

Baseball milestone, glowing pups and more!

Hi there, Pug Lifers. It's Wendell at your service once again, wondering when the ministry is going to update my photo. I feel like one of those newspaper columnists who runs the same mug shot for 20 years, and then when he finally reshoots it, you wonder if his dad took over the job from him. But Big Brother Mugsy calls the shots, so I'll leave that up to him.

As I've gotten older and matured somewhat, I've been taking on a bigger role with Pug Life Ministries. I've been spending less time chasing my tail and more time learning from the master. A while back, Mugsy assigned me to work on a special project developing a canine-centric news wire service. He says this could be critical to the success of the ministry's planned cable news network. I don't think Mugsy has filled you in on this, but basically it's been a dream of his for a few years now. When he first pitched the idea for a 24-hour network to cable and satellite providers, they deemed it too extreme. But with the ongoing radicalization of the Fox Newses and MSNBCs of the world, we believe that the Dog News Network's stance on strictly enforced sharia law and canine suffrage could now be considered almost moderate. Keep your fingers and paws crossed for DNN -- I think it's an idea whose time has come.

Anyway, even though we don't yet have a network to air these stories on, I'm constantly compiling information for Mugsy. Here's a sampling of what I've found recently:
  • Leading off, we have a history-making tale about Master Yogi Berra. This modern-day Jackie Robinson has broken baseball's long-standing species barrier, becoming the first canine to be ejected from a baseball game. The mascot for the Greensboro Grasshoppers was tossed by home plate umpire Jason Hatchings for "relieving himself" on the field. Thankfully, the owner of the North Carolina team, Donald Moore, is sticking by his pooch. "When you gotta go, you gotta go," he said.
  • The dog-training company Bark Busters has embarked on a search for the naughtiest dog in America. The winner of the National Naughty Dog Contest will win free training. I'm sure that nobody in the congregation would qualify for this, but just in case, you can find details by clicking here.
  • A dog in Thailand is now the proud owner of a $4.2 million jewel-encrusted tiara, courtesy of caretaker and jewelry designer Riwin Jirapolsek. The Thai man now plans to create a jeweled hair clip for his 15-year-old Maltese, to help keep the fur out of his beloved pet's eyes. And they say we're in the midst of a global economic recession!
  • And finally, researchers say they have created the world's first fluorescent cloned dogs. The four beagle puppies, including Ruppy (pictured below), glow red under ultraviolet light. The researchers say this experiment that mixed canine cells with a gene from a sea anemone could aid in the study of human diseases, but I think their motives are more nefarious. A glowing race of merbeagle supersoldiers, anyone? The ayatollah has made clear his thoughts on canine cloning, so I suggest that you scientists stick with your night lights. 

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Mugsy doing well after surgery

Hey, everybody. Wendell here, filling in for Big Brother. As some of you know, Mugsy had surgery on Friday to have a lump removed. He has a history of mast cell tumors, so we have to watch out for these things and nip 'em in the bud. The vet said the operation went really well, and Mugsy seems to be feeling good. His recovery this time has been much better than in past surgeries. His tail is up and curled tightly, and he's barking the word of Allah with great abandon -- especially when the neighborhood kids congregate at the fence. 

Even though he's only two days removed from the operation, I think Mugsy's pretty much back to normal. His toughness is the stuff of legend. Still, the vet says Mugsy should limit his activity for a while, so I'll be taking over blogging duties for the next week or so. 

Big Bro, you just sit back and relax and let your harem fawn all over you, and I'll try to make you proud. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Mugsy issues fatwa

Evil must be condemned, my flock. Regardless of the consequences or any personal discomfort, we must speak out against it. To do otherwise would be tantamount to acceptance. And by meekly accepting evil, we perpetuate it. So although I run the risk of angering the world's retailers and haberdashers, I feel that they have left me no choice but to issue a fatwa! I hereby condemn, in the strongest terms possible, the packaging of men's dress shirts. 

Anyone who has ever shopped for a button-up shirt has surely been astounded by the depths of depravity to which clothing-makers sink. The shirt is tightly folded into an awkward rectangle. Cold plastic is tucked away on both sides of the collar. Numerous bits of cardboard and paper hide in the shirt's crevices. And worst of all, an array of plastic and metal clips join forces with eight dozen razor-sharp pins to pinch every bit of stray fabric together. This turns the simple act of trying on a new shirt into a half-hour production. The pointless display must be painstakingly disassembled, creating a pile of environmentally unfriendly waste and filling the blood-stained department store pincushion to the breaking point. Once freed from its bindings, the shirt is covered in rectangular creases that are likely to survive the garment's first washing and beyond; only heavy-duty ironing can undo the madness of man. And woe be upon the poor sap who has to reassemble and reshelve this ungodly puzzle after I decide I don't like the way the shirt fits.

So let it be known throughout the land that I strictly forbid this practice to continue. Under the terms of this fatwa, shirts must now be allowed to hang freely on a rack. I will tolerate the plastic in the collar, which seems to be the only part of this display method with any purpose, but the pins and needles and cardboard and paper must go -- and they must go now! They serve only to torture male clothes-buyers, raise the material cost of the shirts, leave unsightly holes and wrinkles in the fabric, litter our landfills, and destroy our precious trees before I and other well-meaning canines have had a chance to mark them.  What a waste. What an evil, evil waste. 

Well done, Porterhouse

The ministry would like to congratulate Porterhouse, who was recently crowned the winner of Drake University's annual Beautiful Bulldog Contest in Des Moines, Iowa. Porterhouse, 4, beat out 49 other contestants to claim the pageant prize. After finishing second in the contest in 2006 and 2007, Porterhouse finally broke through with a victory, wearing camouflage and an army helmet for the occasion. 

The bulldog's triumph was not without controversy, as judge Perez Hilton blasted Porterhouse's controversial stance on interspecies marriage. 

The Pug Epic: Part III

This is the third chapter in a multi-part history lesson. To read the previous installment, click here

As Genghis Khan's forces massed at the Great Wall, debate raged within the pug parliament. A battle with the warlord would no doubt prove bloody. Though the pugs were confident that their superior intellect and military might would help them prevail, they preferred to avoid an unnecessary conflict. Centuries of war had left many of the dogs weary. They had long ago traded in their thrice-daily naps for careers as soldiers and merchants and artisans. Nerves were frayed and hackles were raised as the dogs sought a solution. Finally, a consensus emerged within the pug parliament around a charismatic leader named Sun Mugtzu. This pug, bigger than most, with a perfectly concave face and exquisite jowls, was unanimously elected emperor of the canines. He raised a million-pug army -- unheard of in that time -- and embarked on his rendezvous with destiny. 

Sun Mugtzu stood atop the Great Wall looking down upon Genghis Khan's sea of warriors. The Mongol encampment stretched to the horizon and beyond, with longbows angling skyward and swords glinting in the evening sunlight. He told the Mongols of the massive pug army on the other side of the wall, and of the certain death that awaited many of the rebels should they seek to invade. The pugs held the high ground and could strike far behind the Mongol front lines with their advanced artillery. Plus, scores of pug ninjas had already infiltrated the camp and stood ready to attack at a moment's notice. 

After Sun Mugtzu's show of strength, he invited Genghis Khan to meet him atop the Great Wall. Sun Mugtzu allowed the warlord a glimpse of the pug legions below and then spoke. "Temujin," he barked, using the Mongol's birth name. "We stand on the brink of war. But war is not what we seek. We pugs have spent centuries building our empire, and although we eat the finest treats and receive unlimited belly rubs and possess riches beyond human comprehension, we desire more. I come to offer you a deal."

The Mongol seemed taken aback. He had trained his whole life for this moment, for his opportunity to throw off the yoke of pug rule. He stood ready for a fight. Yet the wise old pug appeared ready to negotiate. Genghis Khan nodded apprehensively. "I'm listening," he said.

To be continued ...

Thursday, April 16, 2009

A movement is born

The tea party movement has inspired me, my flock. We canines need our own social gatherings where we can carry signs, vent over problems real and imagined, and perhaps howl along with some country music. But tea has never been my beverage of choice, so I am launching a grassroots series of Water-Bowl Parties. All across the United States, canines will gather to protest. What will we protest, you ask? Whatever we feel like; that's what. Perhaps we will protest the taxation without representation that dogs must endure in this country -- cities require us to pay registration fees and wear demeaning tags, yet we are deprived of voting rights. Perhaps we will badmouth the U.S. government and make plans to secede from the union in favor of glorious Pugistan. And perhaps -- moments later, in a fit of schizophrenia -- we will change our minds and chant "USA, USA!"
It would not be without precedent.

Yes, my flock, these Water-Bowl Parties will provide a chance for canines of all breeds and shapes and sizes to come together. They will be magical events, even if the mainstream media choose not to cover them. If you are interested in organizing a Water-Bowl Party in your city, please let me know as soon as possible. And also let me know if you are willing to provide a corporate sponsorship for this grassroots movement. 

Further details to come ...

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Bagging on the tea parties

As a pug well-versed in history, religion and current events, I am not often perplexed. But the "tea party" movement has me scratching my head. (And I had my monthly dose of Revolution today, so it is not flea-related.) Fox News, which has been cheerleading the events, calls them "anti-tax tea parties." Having just mailed my bloated 1040 and a large check to the IRS, I can understand the frustration. The U.S. tax code is far too complex, and filing a return is far too time-consuming. But "anti-tax"? Do people think that interstate highways and a strong military and countless other things that enhance our lives as citizens grow on trees? I accept that to derive the benefits of living in this country, I must foot part of the bill in the form of taxes. 

Let's remember that the original Boston Tea Party was held to protest taxation without representation. Today's protesters have the right to vote on which bums are put in office. And sour grapes over a lost election do not equate to the grievances of the founding fathers.

Perhaps Fox News is oversimplifying the matter with the "anti-tax" label. If the protest is over runaway government spending, then it begins to make more sense. But the timing is highly suspect. On Sean Hannity's radio show today, he said that under President Obama, people suddenly see trillions of dollars in debt and their children's piggy banks being raided. Seriously? This has been going on for years. Aside from a brief period of relative fiscal sanity under President Clinton, the United States has been living beyond its means for decades. And our last president, George W. Bush, racked up nearly as much debt during his eight years in office as the nation acquired in its previous 224 years combined. Yet Hannity and others of his ilk largely ignored the matter until Obama took office. Watching one of the tea parties on TV, I just spotted an "Impeach Yobama" sign. If you're going to protest profligate spending, then have the sincerity to do so regardless of which party holds power in Washington. 

I have written many times on this blog about the lunacy of Washington's out-of-control spending. But with the country potentially teetering on the brink of another Great Depression, I firmly believe that now is not the time to turn off the spigot of government money. Most economists agree that the depression of the 1930s was as bad as it was precisely because of the government's hands-off approach. It took the heavy spending of World War II and, to a lesser extent, the New Deal to get the nation's economy back on track. Trillions of dollars have been lost in the current recession; another year of deficit spending seems insignificant in comparison. 

If the economy recovers and the federal deficit remains at such levels, then it's time to protest.

Perhaps the strangest aspect of the tea parties has come in the form of the raving condemnations of a Department of Homeland Security memo warning about right-wing extremist groups. The agency is doing its job in warning about a potential threat, just as it has many times in the past about threats from left-wing lunatics such as the Earth Liberation Front. Extremists at either end of the political spectrum can be dangerous; have we forgotten about the 168 people killed in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing? I was not yet born then, but my father vividly remembers watching TV coverage of the attack in an Oklahoma classroom. The student in the next desk over lost his sister in the bombing. But Fox News' Glen Beck and others are taking the memo as an attack on the tea party movement. Moments ago, I saw Beck trying to incite an angry, booing crowd by mischaracterizing the memo. For the record, this is how the memo explains such extremist threats:

"Rightwing extremism in the United States can be broadly divided into those groups, movements, and adherents that are primarily hate-oriented (based on hatred of particular religious, racial or ethnic groups), and those that are mainly antigovernment, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority, or rejecting government authority entirely."
If Beck and the protesters want to self-identify with that crowd, then maybe we should all be worried.

Tax Day reminder

I would like to remind you all that today is Tax Day. Please make checks payable to "Ayatollah Mugsy," or use the PayPal link on the right side of the screen.

Monday, April 06, 2009

The Pug Epic: Part II

This is the second chapter in a multi-part history lesson. To read the previous installment, click here

As early as the 5th century B.C., the rulers of the pug dynasty had begun to erect the series of barriers that would eventually form the Great Wall of China. The history books tell us that the Great Wall was created by man to repel invaders from the north. But this is not true. In fact, the pugs built the wall to contain the millions of tennis balls used recreationally within the empire. As anyone who has played fetch in this part of the world knows, a ball is as good as gone once it reaches the gusting winds and shifting sands of the Gobi Desert. 

As humans toiled for centuries to build the Great Wall for their canine overlords, the pugs focused on expansion. The empire's sphere of influence pushed east into the Korean Peninsula and south to modern-day Vietnam and Cambodia. The pugs conquered dozens of tribes in Central Asia and pushed northward into Russia, where they met heavier-than-usual resistance. Humans who would not submit to the canines' will were taken to labor camps where they were forced to spend up to 16 hours a day giving belly rubs to local dogs. It was a grueling existence, and many a human fingertip was rubbed raw and numb. Though harsh, the pugs' tactics sent the intended message to the Russian population. The Russian word for belly rub, "gulag," remained in use to describe forced-labor camps through Soviet times.

By the 13th century, the pug empire reigned supreme in Asia. But a human warlord was beginning to make waves on the Mongolian steppes. The man, dubbed Genghis Khan, united many of the nomadic human tribes of Northern Asia and raised a fearsome army. If any human could stand up to the pugs' rule, it was this rebel. In 1208 A.D., Genghis Khan massed tens of thousands of horsemen at the Great Wall, preparing an invasion of the pug heartland. They camped in the Great Wall's shadow through the harsh winter, as pug sentries watched from above and occasionally asked the humans to throw back wayward tennis balls. With the spring thaw of 1209, Genghis Khan was ready to make his move. What happened next would forever alter the course of history.

To be continued ...

Friday, April 03, 2009

Happy birthday to Mugsy!

Hey, everybody. It's Wendell. Mugsy's busy writing his next history lesson, so he let me borrow the keys to the blog. Big Brother says he's far too modest to announce a ministry-wide celebration of his birthday. So he suggested that I do it. Well, "suggested" might not be a strong enough word. Anyway, I want to say that I'm really happy to see Mugsy still going strong at 8 years old. What he's accomplished in that time is pretty amazing -- a successful rap career; overcoming a criminal conviction; finding Allah in the dog pound; founding the world's largest interfaith, interspecies ministry. I could go on, but you get the idea. 

To celebrate the big day, I asked mom to scan some old photos for the blog. Mugsy's puppy photos had never before been published on the Internet, because they were taken back in the Dark Ages before the 'rents got a digital camera. So check out these pics of baby-faced Mugsy -- he barely even had a beard back then! 

This is the first picture my parents ever took of Mugsy, on the day they brought him home. That doggy bed didn't last long, becoming the first victim of Mugsy's chewing. 

Here, Mugsy takes a nap beside our uncle. Look at that form! He's always been good at what he does.

Fans of "Where's Waldo" may like this one. Can you spot the baby ayatollah? Now, I feel that I need to explain one thing. After the latest presidential election, it's clear that it doesn't take much to be labeled a socialist in this country. So to avoid fueling any McCarthy-esque rumors about my Capitalist Pug brother, it should be noted that the dude on the left isn't the Great Russian Bear of Communism. This photo was taken at our grandparents' house, and grandpa was a longtime military man. He picked up the hat while serving in Europe. I like to think that he wore it on covert operations behind the Iron Curtain. But it may have just been a souvenir.

Here, Lil' Mugsy is being held by our other grandfather, who actually has normal-sized hands. 

Mugsy receives a relaxing massage from a sock monkey. 

I think this one's my favorite -- look at that smile! After eight years, it still lights up a room. Happy birthday, Big Bro!