Monday, April 27, 2009

More Sportscasting

Good is not good enough when better is expected. ~ Vin Scully

I wanted to talk a little more about the ASA's Top 50 Sportscasters of all time, just because it's my blog and I can if I want to.

Actually, the reason I wanted to go on is that there are so many great names on the list. There are also a few strange ones. Chris Berman at number 35? Please.

However, I want to accentuate the positive here. There are a lot of people on the list who would not have gotten national notice. Ernie Harwell, for example, was the long time voice of the Detroit Tigers. In my youth, WJR-AM radio carried the Tiger games, and oftentimes it came in clearer at night than the Cleveland Indians station. Harwell had one of those perfect radio voices. It's hard to describe exactly, but most of the old time radio sportscasters had a sort of nasal edge that could cut through the static without being annoying. Cleveland's long time announcer Jimmy Dudley had the same sort of voice; so did Mel Allen.

I also see Bob Prince on the list. Prince was the Pittsburgh pirates announcer, and he was a devoted fan of the Buccos. It was "us" and "them" always. Some people on the national scene seemed to think this was a bad thing. Personally, I couldn't see why the announcer for the home team, broadcasting on the team's network, couldn't root for the team. Harry Caray (18 on the list) and son Skip, who just missed the list, always made you very aware of whose side they were on.

Skip Caray, who I think should have made the list, used to do Atlanta Hawks broadcasts as well as Braves games. One time, the Hawks were in Cleveland. The game was close late with the Hawks holding a slim lead when Skip noticed that the clock was not started on a posession by the Cleveland clock operator. After he brought that up, he said, "Excuse me, folks, but I've got to tell Hubie [Brown, Hawks coach] know about this. Hubie! Hubie!" His voice faded off as he got Brown's attention. Brown hollered at the officials who went back and checked a replay (the game was being televised by WTBS). Sure enough, they caught the timekeeper in the act, and took time off the clock. The Hawks won the game, and it could be that they owed Skip Caray the victory.

Another name on the list that deserves mention is Ray Scott. In the olden days, NFL broadcasts generally featured a national game and a regional one. The regional games would be broadcast by the local announcing team. The Green Bay Packers were getting to be big noise in the early 1960's, so we got to hear a lot of Ray Scott, their main sportscaster. Scott was one of the good ones, one of those guys who realized that people could see the action, so it wasn't necessary for him to keep gabbing. When the NFL went to network teams for all games, Scott became their number one national announcer. A wise decision.

Milo Hamilton holds the distinciton of succeeding two legends. He replaced Bob Prince in Pittsburgh, where Prince had been a legend. When Harry Caray passed on, Hamilton came to Chicago to do the Cubs games. Hamilton's appearance on the list is sort of interesting in that he didn't have a particularly distinctive style, and I certainly don't recall any memorable phrases or moments that he had. Unlike Prince and Caray, Hamilton never came across as a "homer." Oh, he had all those home team tidbits that only a local guy will have, but with Prince or Caray, you could always tell who was winning by their tone of voice. With Milo, you'd better pay attention to the score; his demenaor wasn't going to give you a clue.

One of the few things I miss about not living near Cleveland are the local broadcasts of sports. For a long time, the Braves broadcasts on TBS filled that void, but now they've gone to national games, and that's a shame. Part of the fun of following sports is listening to your guy announce the games. Whether it's a Bob Prince or a Jimmy Dudley or an Ernie Johnson, the local sportscaster is a fan like me. The difference is he gets to go to all the games and talks to the players and coaches all the time. You really get a different perspective from them. National broadcasts are so sterile. They tend to be more about the announcers than the players.

When I listen to an event on ESPN, FOX, NBC, or wherever, it seems like they keep saying the same stuff all the time, regardless of the teams on the field. And, of course, they have to be impartial, which is understandable. But when I'm watching my team, I'd like the the broadcasters to be on my side, feeling the pain when things go awry and the joy if we win. The network guys spend more time talking about themselves than the do the games. Why not? They don't have a vested interest in either side.

Now, there have been those great announcers who give you the sense they're rooting for both sides. Vin Scully, who I discussed previously and who used to do NBC's Monday night baseball game, and Keith Jackson, one of the great college football announcers of all time, could do their national gigs and make me feel that they were on my side somehow. But guys like that are few and far between.

I miss Jimmy Dudley.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Silence Can Be Eloquent

It's a mere moment in a man's life between the All-Star Game to an old timer's game.~ Vin Scully

John Madden retired the other day, which was the basis for a lot of nostalgia, both about Mr. Madden and about announcers in general. Mr. Madden, in my very humble opinion, picked a good time to go. In recent years, he could be accused justifiably of getting to be a cliche, falling back on standard catch phrases, and often seeming to lose interest in games. He did do, however, an excellent job in the most recent Super Bowl, which was a rare barn-burner in that often dull series. Mr. Madden was "on", which is a good way to go out. Better to be remembered for a good final performance than a bad one.

On Mike and Mike the morning after Mr. Madden's announcement, the discussion turned to who one might carve into a Mt. Rushmore of sportscasters. That's a tough one because there have been a lot of very, very good sportscasters over the years. The first name that popped into my head and one both guys on the show put up there was Vin Scully. I'll come to why that should be in a moment. Mike Greenberg brought up a list voted on by the American Sportscasters Association of the top 50 announcers of all time. Who is at the top of the list? Why, Vin Scully, of course.

So, I thought I'd look up the entire list, but when I searched, this one came up first. Who should be first on this list but Howard Cosell? Lord help us.

Now the ASA list also lists Mr. Cosell in the top 10 (number 5 to be exact), and I'm at a loss to understand why. For some reason, Howard Cosell is given a huge amount of credit for the success of Monday Night Football, which is beyond me. MNF had some of the worst people in the booth in the history of broadcasting. Alex Karras, Fred "The Hammer" Williamson, and Dennis Miller all were there and yet ratings did just fine, thank you. It was the product, not Howard Cosell, that made MNF.

For one horrible period, Frank Gifford was doing play-by-play for the games. Mr. Gifford couldn't keep track of what teams were on the field. In one game, both quarterbacks wore number 12. Gifford couldn't get the names straight all night.

But back to that list. It was compiled by someone calling himself David Halberstam, who is obviously not the late Pulitzer Prize author. He is also not much of a judge of sportscasting. For example, Vin Scully is at number 16, while a non-entity like Brent Musberger is third. Musberger doesn't even make the top 40 from the ASA. Other gems on Mr. Halberstam's list include legendary announcers like Phyllis George, Joe Morgan, Terry Bradshaw, and Joe Garagiola, none of whom even made the ASA list. Meanwhile he leaves off quite possible the best boxing announcer of all time, Don Dunphy and Red Barber. Red Barber, for crying out loud!

Let me talk about Vin Scully before I burst a blood vessel.

Vin Scully can bring drama and poetry to watching caulk dry. Many sports broadcasters try to wax eloquent, but it's a lost art, primarily, I think, because they don't have the journalistic models people like Mr. Scully had. He would have grown up reading Grantland Rice or Ring Lardner, and I know he read Jim Murray's work in the LA Times. He obviously read of lot of wonderful literature, because it comes out in his ability to put into words what we are all thinking in a given moment.

He also has a gift that has always been rare in announcers: He knows when to shut up. Two moments come to mind. In 1964, Ken Venturi was making a comeback from an autombile accident three years before. That year, the US Open was in at the Congressional Country Club, where it gets hot in the summertime. That summer it was brutal, and the last day of the Open, players had to play 36 holes. Venturi was dehydrated and near collapse but he soldiered on and had a lead as he slowly walked up the 18th fairway. Scully described the scene, the pain, the effort vividly, and then he stopped talking and let the video and the roar of the crowd at the 18th hole tell the story. It was beautiful.

In 1988, the Dodgers were playing Oakland in the World Series. In game 1, Kirk Gibson limped up to the plate to pinch hit. Gibson had been a solid performer for the Dodgers, but he was so gimpy after a series of injuries, it was doubtful that he could have beaten out a single hit hard to the outfield. He didn't have to; he hit a home run. Scully's call was perfect.

"All year long they looked to him to light the fire and all year long he answered the demands. High fly ball into right field. She is gone!" And then he said nothing while the crowd went nuts. I think Gibson had dragged himself all the way around the bases before Scully spoke again.

"In a year that has been so improbable, the impossible has happened."

But if you want a wonderfully example of what sportscasting should be, check out his call of Sandy Koufax's perfect game. It's here, about a third of the way down the page. Just reading it, you can feel the moment. I won't quote it all here, but I will call your attention to something right near the end: 38 seconds of cheering by the crowd.

I cannot even conceive of Howard Cosell doing that.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Grammatically Speaking

The misconceptions about grammar posted on the 'Net are at least as bad as the misconceptions about evolution, presumably because American public schools do an equally bad job of teaching both. ~ Raphael Carter

I have a vague recollection of having heard of The Elements of Style. Evidently, this guide to grammar and, naturally enough, style was published in an updated form in 1959, and its standards have been foisted on unsuspecting students ever since. Geoffrey Pullum writes a scathing indictment of this baseline reference guide that has apparently been using to drive writing skills into the heads of students for fifty years this month.

I may not have actually come into contact with the volume, but I certainly felt its effects. Mr. Pullum speaks of it as being used to teach college students, but reading his critique and looking at some of its points, I know that my high school (and even earlier) years of English were shaped heavily by Elements. Based on Mr. Pullum's analysis, I'm not sure I'm the better for it.

For instance, the business of avoiding the passive voice resonates clearly. That always seemed like dumb advice. After all, why did we have passive voice if we were never to use it? Actually, Strunk and White (Elements authors) meant mostly never use passive, not always avoid it. The problem is that not all teachers were willing to try to figure out when it was right to do so and when it wasn't. It didn't help much that the examples in the book of what not to do weren't even good examples of the use of passive voice (as Pullum points out).

I also recall being told repeatedly not to use the first person, which turns out to be another Strunk/White-ism. One teacher did point out that she didn't need to see "I think" or "In my opinion" in an essay because she could infer that because she had asked for the student's opinion in the first place, making the use of the first person rather redundant. Oh, redundancy or the use of too many words is another no-no.

Of course, expressing an opinion is also frowned upon in Elements, so it would seem that our teachers were forcing us to violate good style by expressing an opinion in the first place.

I recall one teacher mentioning the use of the first person and making the point that it can't always be avoided. She said one student had attempted to complete an assignment to write an autobiographical piece without ever using "I". It must have been as painful to read as it was to write.

Of course, today, professional athletes live in the world of the third person, occasionally drifting into the royal "We." Then again, I suspect not many of them ever had to worry about grammatical style too much as long as they could score points, gain yards, or block shots.

I'm sure Elements says something about commas, but beyond such obvious examples as the one in the sentence before the word "but", I don't think anyone really knows where to put commas. Personally, I regard them as small, cheap, and easy to use, so I sprinkle 'em around liberally. I never got seriously gigged for too many commas.

The problem I see with blindly following guides to grammar and/or style is that what passes for an acceptable style in one format may positively stink in another. In fact, one teacher's idea of perfect style can be another's nightmare. In college, my first semester freshman English teacher took half a class period to rake us over the coals for writing in a formalistic style, which included an introduction, summary, and conclusion. He was amazed that so many high school teachers had pounded that into impressionable heads like ours. He said, "I don't need an introduction because I asked the question, so I know what it is. I don't need a summary for a simple answer to an essay question. And I can figure out what your conclusions were without you telling me. After all, I just read the damned thing!"

So, we all started writing tighter essays, which was great until the second semester when the teacher told us we really should be summing up and writing a conclusion to make it absolutely clear what we thought.

Then there's business writing. After years of being beat about the head and shoulders about how bad short choppy senences are (another Elements style point), you now find that long sentences just confuse people. And they want the conclusions up front so they don't have to read the rest of the report if they don't want to (which, most of the time, they don't).

Fortunately for me, my aborted foray into physics came in handy here, because that is exactly the way you write a lab report: Short explanation of the problem followed by the brilliant conclusion followed by pages and pages of obfuscation designed to support the conclusion. I was always in demand as a lab partner because I could rescue the most botched experiment with a beautifully crafted pile of hand-waving disguised as a lab report.

So, there are no hard and fast rules about what constitutes proper style and even grammar. Frankly, if people will get their spelling, basic grammar, and syntax right, I don't really care if they use passive tense, first person, and/or choppy sentences. The objective should be to produce a piece of writing that communicates to the reader what you intended to communicate. If you fail to do that, then all the style points in the world won't rescue the writing. On the other hand, if obfuscation is you intention, find an old physics major to lend you a hand.

Or, at least, use a lot of commas.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Art in the Blood Is Liable to Take the Strangest Forms

I do not think I am in need of booming. ~ Sherlock Holmes

So they're making a new Sherlock Holmes film. I don't much watch movies any more. I think the last recent release I saw was Pirates of the Caribbean which I enjoyed. I don't recall what I watched before that. When I feel the need for a film, I mostly watch old movies on Turner Classic Movies or dip into the video collection.

When I hear, though, that they're making a new movie about one of my favorite literary characters, I have to admit an interest. Or at least I did until I read this interview with Rachael McAdams (who?), who purportedly plays Irene Adler in a new film called Sherlock Holmes. What typical Hollywood originality.

Title aside, what knobbled my curd was this quote from Ms. McAdams: "It's lots of fighting and explosions."

Say what? I've read every Sherlock Holmes story Sir Arthur Conan Doyle ever wrote (and several he didn't write), and I don't recall a single explosion involving Holmes, Watson, Lestrade, or anyone else. I suppose some victim might have been exploded, although no one comes to mind. There were one or two incidents that would be considered a fight (I recall Holmes sporting a shiner once; "It was a straight left against a slogging ruffian; I emerged as you see"), but A Scandal in Bohemia (the story that's supposed to be the base of the movie) doesn't contain any of them.

This is, however, the 21st century, and nothing can get to film or onto TV without mayhem on a major scale.

This is sad. Holmes is perhaps the most cerebral of all fictional detectives, but he was no sissy, being handy with a pistol, knowledgeable in boxing and something called baritsu. He was capable of hiking long distances (although in his day, most people were used to walking long distances) and could work for days on end with little or no rest. His physical prowess put him in a different league than, say, Hercule Poirot or the completely sedentary Nero Wolfe.

On the other hand, he wasn't Phillip Marlowe or Sam Spade. And he most surely wasn't dodging slow motion explosions.

Taking Holmes to film hasn't always been a pretty thing. Basil Rathbone was an excellent Holmes, but Nigel Bruce played Watson like a doddering fool, which was ridiculous because Watson and Holmes were about the same age. The plots of the Rathbone movies were often mangled messes, combining elements from several stories and also found ways to work Dr. Moriarty into plots where he never figured in Conan Doyle's stories. It didn't help that they also moved the period of many of the films into the 1940's, losing the wonderful atmosphere of Victorian/Edwardian England.

The best of the traditional films, to my mind, starred Peter Cushing as Holmes in the Hound of the Baskervilles. Of course, where you have Cushing, you have Christopher Lee, this time as Henry Baskerville. The movie is true to the novel and reasonably well done.

The best of all the portrayals is Jeremy Brett, who played Holmes in a British television series. Brett played Holmes to the hilt, showling the full range of emotion that Conan Doyle wrote into the detective. I think a lot of people have this idea (based on the Rathbone movies) that Holmes was a cold fish without feelings. On the contrary, while he was always cool at the end, at the moments of action, he could show anger, frustration, or even fear (The Adventure of the Speckled Band is a good example).

In case you're curious, you can find a list of the zillion actors who have played Holmes here. (Caution: This is a Wikipedia site; facts may need checking.)

At any rate, I'm afraid Ms. McAdams, Robert Downey Jr. (the unlikely choice for Holmes), Guy Richey (director; isn't he Madonna's ex?) and the rest will have to do without me. I don't need explosions to make the most famous detective of all time exciting and entertaining. Worse, it's possible, if not probable, that the relationship between Irene Adler and Holmes will be a pile of romantic mush, instead of the chivalric longing and admiration portrayed in the original tale.

Perhaps the creators of this new "interpretation" of the Holmes persona would have been well to have taken this little piece of Sherlockian advice:

To the man who loves art for its own sake, it is frequently in its least important and lowliest manifestations that the keenest pleasure is to be derived.

Subtlety is a lost art.

Friday, April 10, 2009

A Crying Shame

A professional is someone who can do his best work when he doesn't feel like it. ~ Alistair Cooke

Edward R. Murrow didn't cry. Walter Cronkite didn't cry. Chet Huntley and David Brinkley didn't cry. What is it with the current breed of broadcaster that blubbering is now considered good reportage?

I am very old school in a lot of ways, something I freely admit. Reporters and commentators are supposed to be professionals who can control their emotions and dispassionately tell us what is going on, or, in the case of commentary, what they think. I don't care that they are deeply moved; what's important is whether I am deeply moved by what they have to say.

Oh, there have been exceptional moments as noted in the article. The crash of the Hindenburg was certainly a shocking moment to the reporter on the scene. That being said, while his statement, "Oh, the humanity!" is heart-rending, it would have been all the stronger had he not been so hysterical at the time.

Lest you think I'm a hard-hearted Hannah, I certainly am moved by the sight of people running for their lives. But I am also moved to appreciate the ground crew commander who stood his ground and screamed at the crew to stop running and move back in to do what they could to save people. Thankfully for those who did survive (and there was a surprising number who did), he wasn't sobbing his eyes out.

The crying reporter is just another symptom of a world-wide epidemic of self-pity and the stern refusal to act like a grownup.

According to the article, some people use the Albert Finney character in Network as a role model for their actions. This is funny because the Finney character has gone round the bend. "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore" may sound like a great sentiment, but when uttered by a guy who walks around in the rain in his pajamas, it lacks credibility. And, if the current crop of sob-sisters had actually watched the movie, they'd realize that it's a condemnation of what television was becoming, and it became an amazingly accurate portrayal of what TV has become.

Remember Mike Patrick of ESPN absolutely flooring Todd Blackledge during a broadcast of game a few years back? The game is close, one of the teams is ready to run a key play, and Patrick suddenly says, "Whaddya think about poor Brittney?" Blackledge was utterly confused, as was any sportsfan. "Brittney who?" he said.

Patrick later said he was trying to lighten the mood. Lighten the mood? A great game, a critical moment, the sort of thing a football fan looks forward to, and he's trying to lighten the mood? I guess it could have been worse. He might have burst into tears due to the palpable tension of the moment.

At a time when newspapers are dying on the vine and internet news sources are dubious at best, television news is going to become a primary source for much of the public. If they can't get clear reporting and intelligent commentary from that source, the average person is going to get ever more clueless. Reporting is already becoming pretty ridiculous, with constant "the sky is falling stories" about the effects of potato chips on intelligence levels while ignoring lobbyists who are buying and selling our elected officials.

I think the intelligence of television reporting really came home to me many years ago. An earthquake had occurred in the LA area (I think it was the Northridge quake). At the time, we had a C-band satellite dish and could pick up the news feeds as they were being sent back to the studio. At one point, I was watching a reporter trudging around the wreckage of an apartment house (ignoring warnings from crew and safety officials about gas leaks). The second story was now in the first story. There was a guy sitting on the ground, and you could hear someone tell the reporter that he had lived in the apartment building. The reporter rushed over and asked, "Do you live here?" and stuck her microphone in the guy's face. He looked back at the wreckage and said, "Not any more."

The reporter had no idea what to say.

At least she didn't start crying.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Immortalizing the Moment

Spending an evening on the World Wide Web is much like sitting down to a dinner of Cheetos... two hours later your fingers are yellow and you're no longer hungry, but you haven't been nourished. ~Clifford Stoll

It's amazing what gets people worked up.

Seems some guy took a video of his very young son after said son had just had a tooth pulled at the dentist's. The kid was evidently drugged up and started babbling like a fool. Dad thought this was so hilarious he posted on YouTube or some such place.

Confession: I haven't viewed the video and have no desire to, for reasons which will become obvious.

Now parents have been immortalizing embarrassing moments of their kids since the Kodak Brownie. Prior to that, they only had stories to tell, which the kid could always deny. But, once photographic means were available, the parents jumped on the opportunity. When 8 mm film became available, that added new dimensions. Once video taping became cheap and easy, it was katie-bar-the-door. Now, with video phones, kids don't have a prayer of escaping to adulthood without some utterly humiliating moment being saved for all posterity.

Posterity, of course, means either the kid's first girl/boyfriend or, worse, the kid's own kids. "Look! Your Daddy was an idiot just like you!"

I wish to state for the record that I have never done this to my kids. In retrospect, there are several occasions when I wish I had, but one can't cry over missed opportunities.

At any rate, this entire process has now reached Web 2.0, allowing a parent to embarrass the kid before the entire planet. A columnist named Mary Mitchell took umbrage to this and said so in a piece she wrote. For her trouble, she was excoriated by the public at large. My favorite criticism is by the person who said, "People should mind their own business."

Yes, and people should mind what they make other people's business.

It's amazing to me that people think a) that a video of an incoherent child would be funny, and b) that it would be ok to post said video on the internet. We live in a country where overzealous prosecutors have tried to peg people on child pornography charges for posting traditional naked-kid-on-a-bear rug pictures and little-naked-kid-in-the-bath pictures. Folks have been projecting those on screens for the amusement of relatives --and boy/girl friends -- to the horror of kids for years. I've even seen them as part of the family photos on a co-worker's desk.

Where are these protectors of the children now?

What that kid's dear, dumb dad doesn't realize is that video is now a part of internet history. It will be available in one way or another for as long as there are computers. The kid will find a link to it posted to his Web 3.0 social site 10 years from now. When he goes to apply for a job, the interviewer will bring up the video and say, "Are you still on drugs?" No, not really. What the interviewer will ask is, "Are you as incapable of good judgement as your father?"

To me, this guy is one step removed from the morons who commit a crime, capture it on video, then post it to Facebook, MySpace, or wherever. Then they're shocked when they're arrested.

I've railed on about the idiocy on the 'Net before. The sad thing is that the Internet started out as a way to exchange information. If anything, thanks to content providers trying to keep you from actually finding their stuff, that's getting more difficult all the time. But, you can still use it that way.

And, I'm not down on the commercialization. I like being able to shop via the Web, whether at web stores or bricks-and-mortar outfits utilizing the web (scheduled an appointment to get my windshield fixed today).

No, what bothers me is that the Internet has become a freak show, where displaying humiliation is becoming the standard bearer of Web 2.0. I guess we can blame TV for instigating this. Remember America's Funniest Home Videos? It may still be around for all I know, but on the few occasions I saw it, it was apparent that a good number of the videos were staged (although the pain was real) just to get on TV. Even the producers of the show realized this; they had at least one segment of obviously faked videos.

How pathetic does someone have to be to take a baseball in the crotch or have their skivvies pulled down on purpose so that millions of people can see them? I'm not sure how pathetic they have to be, but there sure are a lot of them.

It's not always videos, of course. Thanks to the social sites and blogs in general, people have been able to make complete fools of themselves in digital print as well.

And now they're immortalized. For future employers and possible mates to see potentially forever. Or for current co-workers to find and to pass on to their soon-to-be ex-employers.

The Internet is a mass of unintended consequences.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

A Rosie by Any Other Name

And the number one reason why you can't trust vicious Pit Bulls... 1. They will steal your heart like a thief in the night, showing you complete and pure love that only a Pit Bull can show. ~Jason Mann (The other nine reasons are here)

If you're observant, you'll have noticed an addition to the page. In case you aren't all that observant, to the right, below Tiny's Tiny Thoughts you'll find a new picture, Sly Rosie. Rosie is the latest addition to our menagerie of dogs. Yes, Rosie is a pit bull.

Well, like our Labrador Deceiver, Rottenweiller, and our bio-hazard Chihuahua-Terrier mistake, she's more of a Pitiful Bull, but you get the idea.

Rosie caught the Wife's eye, supposedly when she was driving home. Supposedly, this tiny puppy (probably less than six weeks old) managed to follow the Wife's pickup home. The Wife, who had sworn that there would be no more dogs in the house, could not possibly take her to the Humane Society. "Just look at those eyes," she cooed.

Well, I did. Rosie is the only dog I've seen that perpetually appears to be recovering from a hangover. Her eyes, particularly on waking up, are red-rimmed and seem to say, "Man, where am I? The last thing I remember is knocking back a couple of boilermakers." You just have to love a dog like that.

Rosie has grown a bit since then, but she's still the second smallest dog in the house. She doesn't realize that, of course. Fortunately, Tiny is a peace-loving dog, who is willing to share tennis balls and the couch. Emily is bitchier, but Rosie figured out that Emily likes her ears licked, so they reached a quick accommodation. Stinky just pretends she's the only dog in the house.

By the way, the reason that Stinky doesn't appear here or on Explorations (where Emily hangs out) is that she's horribly camera-shy. She gets freaked out by the flash, which she seems to think is lightening. If a picture is taken in her vicinity, she immediately goes into hiding.

I have been bemused by the reaction people have to a pit bull. Rosie's picture is on my work computer, and people always react the same way. "Awwwwww," they'll say. "Isn't she adorable? Wait a minute, isn't that a pit bull?"

Yes she is, and what of it? Pit bulls have gotten a horrible rap because of the human dreck that trains them to be fighting dogs. That same dreck will try to train anything to kill anything else for their amusement.

Any dog can be viscious. Most often, this is because the owner either teaches it to be viscious or treats the animal inhumanely. I've had more than one person complain about a nippy dog then describe how he or she beats the dog if they exhibit bad behavior. I'm no Dog Whisperer, but I sure as heck know that if someone treats an animal in a violent manner, the animal is going to be more violent, not less.

Rosie has shown that she can be a lovable and conniving as all the other dogs. She has all of us wrapped around her dewclaw.

Rosie does have her faults. She is possessive. It's not that she will growl or anything nasty. No, if she gets hold of something, she hides it. The Wife has frequently had to locate slippers, lighters, bandanas, and other miscellaneous items in one of Rosie's hidey-holes.

She is also ingenious (Rosie, the Wife not so much). Not too long ago, the Wife got some new toe-nail clippers for the dogs. She made the mistake of leaving them on a side table that Rosie could reach. After a while, the clippers were missing, so the Wife went to Rosie's stash, and sure, enough they were there -- disassembled. We're not talking about torn apart, we're talking disassembled. Somehow, she (Rosie, not the Wife) had carefully removed the screw holding the two halves of the clippers together. There in her stash were both halves, the screw, and the nut in a neat little grouping.

Rosie is a Swiss Army dog, evidently with at least one Phillips-head tooth.

Now that's scary.