Sunday, August 31, 2008

Do my eyes deceive me ...

... or is that the Commander-in-Grief sitting in the FEMA command center? He looks confused, though I think he's going for "concern" with his expression. Or maybe he's daydreaming, longing for the days of Katrina, when he was in Crawford kicking back with his boots on the coffee table and a cigar between his teeth. On the other hand, maybe he's trying to figure out how to pronounce Gustav. Goose-ta-Vee? Is that Italian? Boy I could sure go for a plate of spaghetti about now. Maybe some of that par-mees'un cheese. Mmmm. Cheeeeeeez. Don't drool. Must. Not. Drool.

Friday, August 29, 2008

A modem can only endure so much

I'm just going to come right out with it. Tuesday I vomited on the DSL modem, which apparently is not waterproof. In spite of the Madame's best efforts to revive it, those glorious green and orange blinking lights went dark for good. I felt pretty awful about it right then. But things really went south when I realized it would take two days for Earthlink to ship us a new one. The thought of 48 hours without Internet access made my gut start aching again. How can I watch the rest of this convention, I wailed to Madame, with my paws tied?!!

That's when it really got ugly. Uh, Henry, she says. Did you ever wonder what I'm doing when I'm in here at the computer for hours at a time and you're off somewhere napping or horking? Well, you see, I'm doing something called Work! It's what pays the Internet bill and buys your Hills Hairball Formula, which apparently isn't working so well. And do you know how DIFFICULT that Work is going to be now that you have injected your gastric juices into my office equipment?!

Well, I saw her point. But boy did it smart.

I imagine you're wondering why, after she finally got the new modem up and running and her operation back online, my benefactress has allowed me to return once again to the keys. It's called a space helmet. Available in feline sizes. If you ask to see a photo of me wearing it, I will shred your epidermis.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

CNN: A third less coverage, all the time!

Tonight, as I flipped channels to compare coverage of the Democratic National Convention, I was struck by how close to the chest CNN plays its cards. Sure, they're on 24/7, but that's just to make up for how little they actually show you. I could barely make out the head and shoulders of each keynote speaker above the sewer of graphics. Disgusted, I bellowed for my intern to fetch a tape measure. The results? On our 20-inch TV, the CNN wall-to-wall visual garbage obscured THE ENTIRE BOTTOM 6 INCHES OF THE SCREEN. There could be anything going on under there.

So for the most part, we kept it on PBS, which used only a discreet, 1-inch logo in the bottom righthand corner (all they could afford). Who cares that the audio was piped from the bottom of a well—or that Jim Lehrer kept track of his roving reporter via a 50-foot tether. I want substance, not sequins.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The better to hear you with, my dear

I'm sure by now everyone's seen the ubiquitous photo of the four-eared cat. So instead of penning something pithy, I'm shining the spotlight on the second-graders who've apparently been pinch-hitting for the world's copy writers.

The Daily Mail Online
"If Batman had a cat, it would probably look something like this. The household pet, named Yoda, was born with an extra set of ears. ..."

The Sun
Cat Yoda has Four-ce Ears
"Don't worry – you’re not seeing double. This is Yoda – the four-eared cat. ..."

The Guardian
"While all cats are said to have nine lives, very few are as unusual as Yoda, a two-year-old feline with four ears. ..."

"As hearing aids go, they don't come better than this. Meet Yoda, the two-year-old moggie who was born with four ears. ..."

Sky News
"Unlike the cruel and unusual punishment of the cat o'nine tails, this cute cat o'four ears is nothing to be afraid of. ..."

The Current
"Meet Yoda, a four-eared cat from Chicago. Yoda's extra ears—which are not thought to help him hear—are not attached to the base of his skull, with one placed slightly behind the other. They are believed to be the result of a genetic mutation. Valerie and Ted Rock took him under their wing when they spotted him as a kitten sitting on a pub bar...."

Henry's Travels:
"This is the story of Yoda the feline alcoholic, who'd trade all four ears for just one good liver..."

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Unwed mother

Her plight is all too familiar. She succumbs to the charms of O'Malley the Alley Cat, then he hits the road and leaves her to raise Marmalade, Mango and Porridge all by herself. And so she is forced to take up at a nearby farm, depending on the kindness of suckers.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Save Peter Rabbit the Horse

A small town in Nebraska has no room for a harmless, frail, geriatric four-legged equine citizen who was born on a farm on the outskirts of Hickman, back before the town grabbed those outskirts and tried to stuff them into its big, fat dress. They want Peter Rabbit's owners to get rid of the 32-year-old horse who was born here in 1976, long before Hickman annexed his home place in 2006 (the city council had passed a law in 1988 prohibiting livestock in the "city" limits). The horse's owner said no one said anything to him then about getting rid of his beloved Peter Rabbit. Now, the cold-hearted mayor and councilmen have slapped the owner with an equine eviction notice. If the horse is not gone by Sept. 15, the owner will be fined $100 for each day he doesn't comply.

Now, I've been around the Madame long enough to learn about how the world works, that is, how the world of towns who get too big for their britches works. The Triangle metro area of NC is swallowing sleepy suburbs and burping out restrictive ordinances like nobody's business. She knows people who bought land far away from city limits of towns like Apex—so they could see the stars at night, plant turnips in their front yards if they liked and paint their houses whatever color that suited them that week. And then there are the people who already lived in the country, who'd been doing those things since they were born. True, some of these folks like the idea of "city water" and services. But a lot of them don't realize what kinds of sacrifices they'll have to make (hint: animal sacrifices).

I think that Hickman's powers-that-be are bad sports, and I wanted to say as much. I sought out the town's Web site so that I could place a phone call or write a little note telling them they might want to re-think how their decision looks to the rest of the civilized world. In the absence of any helpful contact info, I attempted to use the "Contact us" link to send an e-mail. To my not-surprise, that function has been "temporarily disabled."

So my staff here at Henry's Travel's (yes, I have an intern now) placed a call this afternoon to Peter Rabbit's owner, and the woman who answered said politely but firmly that they were handling the situation on their own and had already received a few too many phone calls and didn't require any more personal attention from well-wishers. If, like me, you want to help, please be kind and don't tire his family with your inquiries.

Instead, I suggest:
  • That you place a call to the town administrative offices (whose number we found buried deep within Hickman's Web page) at 402-792-2212 and just let them know that this action offends your sensibilities and ask if this is really the way Hickman wishes to be known: as America's mean old Mr. McGregor. The lady who answered the phone there is very polite, so I strongly suggest if you take the time to dial, that you be polite as well. Remember the adage: It's easier to catch flies with honey than with lemon.
  • Better yet would be to call the mayor and city councilmen and ask them how old they were when they realized they'd grow up to be soul-crushers.
  • The news article lists the offending governing officials as:
  • Mayor Jim Hrouda
  • Council member Robert Harms (yes, that's his real name)
  • Apparently, five of the six council members (whose names I gleaned from minutes posted online) voted to evict. I'm not sure who the brave dissenter was, but here are the names of the other council members:
  • Dave Dykmann
  • Steve Noren
  • Mike Cejka
  • Kim Hoesing
  • Doug Hanson
  • Neither the mayor nor council members keep office hours at city hall, but you may find their numbers via Switchboard online. I'm hoping that making you go through this extra step on your own will give some of my more zealous readers a chance to cool off and prepare a level-headed comment to persuade Hickman officials to "play nicer."

It seems to me, as it would to most logical cats and people, that Peter Rabbit should be "grandfathered" in and allowed to spend his final days in the little pasture he has known all his life. And to those whiners who complain—you know, those city-dwellers who probably bought a place in Hickman because of its country charm*—should be shamed with a statement like: Not to worry. The sweet, old horse you so despise will be DEAD SOON ENOUGH.

UPDATE: The town of Hickman has just placed a piece on its Web site entitled Peter Rabbit: "The Rest of the Story." One imagines that town officials did this to assuage potential protesters. But rather than serving as an adequate defense of their actions, to me it reads like a self-indictment. Hickman officials still look like horse's asses (no offense, Peter).

*I have no idea whether it has this—it could be just as podunk as the hamlets of Canton, US, that Stephen Colbert has been trashing nightly.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

George Bush hates bald eagles

...and grizzly bears, wolves, whales, big cats and all kinds of other animals who still exist because of laws that protect them. What this endangered Florida panther would do to you with his massive jaws and enormous claws is what George Bush is attempting to do to the Endangered Species Act. (The answer is: eviscerate)

I am spitting mad. Please don't allow this affront to my wild cousins. Speak your piece.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The hungry kitty asks: Are you breathing? Just checking.

So, the Madame comes in and says something about how she heard that if a dog's "master" dies in the house, the dog will starve to death rather than "partake". But, she says, if a cat's caregiver dies, the cat will eat her benefactor as soon as the Meow Mix runs out. Henry, she says, is this true?

Dogs are so stupid, I said.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Not your regular day at the park

I can't figure out what the squirrel on the left is doing. His presence seems superfluous. An armed referee, perhaps?

Friday, August 8, 2008

Squirrel foils police, frames teens for Cheetos theft

A crafty squirrel had a near miss with the law after breaking into a vending machine in Minnesota, an anonymous source told Henry's Travels. The squirrel managed to throw police off the scent by leaving a trail of powdery orange crumbs that ended at the doorstep of a 19-year-old boy's apartment. The Twin Cities teen and two friends were arrested and charged with burglary and damage to property. The squirrel then emerged from the bushes and fled to a nearby park, where he began working on his Cheetos mustache.

Photo credit.

Marco! Polo!

At first glance, I thought this diagram was a guide to calisthenics. Turns out, these are referee gestures for the sport of water polo. Water polo? A sport that Henry's Sports Dish is not familiar with? Do tell!

A Spectator's Guide to Water Polo laid it out for me: the sport is "a combination of swimming, lacrosse, soccer, ice hockey, rugby, Australian rules football, and professional wrestling. Actions such as pushing, pulling, grabbing, holding, and even sinking a player are not only likely to occur during a game, they are actually legal and encouraged under some circumstances."

A sport where one team tries to drown the other? HSD is totally on board. As luck would have it, the men's polo teams of Spain and Canada will be trying to asphyxiate each other Saturday night in Beijing. I thought only the NFL could satisfy my blood lust. Those wusses. At least they get to breathe while playing.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Grandmother airs out 3-year-old on car roof while tooling around parking lot

A Florida granny was charged with reckless driving for driving with only one hand on the wheel. She was using her free hand to hold her 3-year-old granddaughter onto the roof of her Lexus.

It is a Herculean task to keep some Florida senior citizens off the road. They hold onto their keys like pit bull terriers. Though some elderly drivers retain the dexterity to drive and babysit at the same time, most need to keep both hands safely on the wheel at 10 and 2.

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration provides a few tips to senior drivers for safe navigation while transporting rooftop rugrats:
  • Toddlers should be secured on rooftop in a sturdily mounted NHTSA-approved child safety seat. If seats are unavailable, duct tape, bungie cables or tie-down straps may be used.
  • Child should be given sippy cup to avoid spillage and subsequent obscurement of windshield.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

This blog is gay and dangerous

I discovered a Web tool whereby you can input your URL and be given a motion-picture-style-rating for your blog or Web site. Apparently, a software program scans for objectionable words. As with the MPAA ratings board, whose inner workings are unknown even to filmmakers (see This Film is Not Yet Rated for an investigation of this mystery-shrouded process), I can't find who authored this Web ranking program or a list of words that trigger the censors.

Henry's Travels was given a rating of PG-13 for the use of bastards twice and dead once. Based on feedback from other bloggers, it appears that the words kill, gun, gay, murder, hurt, dick and sex can also get you in trouble.

I decided to enter the addresses of a variety of Web sites to see what popped up. The National Breast Cancer Foundation received a PG-rating for using the word breast six times. The Breast Cancer Site is even more flagrant, getting its R-rating for using breast 20 times. Breast, breast, breast, breast, breast, breast, breast, breast, breast. Take that, censors!

The official White House Web site managed to keep a G-rating by limiting the use of the word dangerous to once, as did, which was judicious in its use of the word kill (1 time).

A Christianity Today web page promoting abstinence to teens received, ironically, an R-rating for using the word sex 20 times and abortion once. And Say No to Drugs, which "educates children as young as 6 on the dangers of drugs and challenges them to remain drug-free," gets an R-rating for the use of the word drugs 22 times on its Web site. I imagine it'd be hard to get kids to say no to drugs without saying the word drugs.

Ah, humans. Never a dull moment.

This just in: My rating has been downgraded (or upgraded, depending on how you look at it) to NC-17. A real blow. Now I'll never make it into the mainstream.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Do most Americans look like McCain?

The Wall Street Journal asked on Friday: "In a nation in which 66% of the voting-age population is overweight and 32% is obese, could Sen. Obama's skinniness be a liability? Despite his visits to waffle houses, ice-cream parlors and greasy-spoon diners around the country, his slim physique just might have some Americans wondering whether he is truly like them."

Is this a joke? Did WSJ and the New York Post participate in some sort of Freaky Friday-style stunt?

God help us.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Is it just me, or does it seem weird that the Dalai Lama has a Web site?

I invited him to be one of my Friends on MySpace and I haven't gotten a reply. Of course, there was that strange message I got from someone calling himself TransSinDenTal. A bawdy alias, perhaps?