Saturday, August 27, 2011


I haven’t read the Harry Potter books, and I barely stayed awake during two of the films, so I freely admit I am no expert, and I’m sure that Potter fanatics (“Potheads?”) will take pleasure in shooting holes in my theory.

But from my brief exposure, I must state that the series just doesn’t work for me, and here’s why.

Every time Harry gets in a jam, he always resorts to the same solution for his predicament: Magic. To me, this automatically yanks all the suspense out of these stories.

I know nothing will ever happen to Harry, and that he is never really in danger, because magic will always save the day. It just seems so convenient, such a cop-out and a cheat, and that there are no restrictions or rules regarding how magic can save Harry each time.

Let’s compare this to another extremely successful franchise, the James Bond films. I am completely aware that James Bond will also get out of any tight squeeze and, like most protagonists in a series of books/films, Bond will not die. (Cash cows are rarely slaughtered.)

But here’s the difference: James Bond cannot just conveniently conjure magical powers out of nowhere; he must use his wits and strength, and deal with real people and utilize things in the real world to stay alive.

Yes, I know that it is ridiculous when Bond uses a tree limb as a snowboard to escape villains, but the point is that we have all seen tree limbs, except that Bond is creative enough to use such ordinary things in a creative way to beat the bad guys.

Harry doesn't need to be clever or outsmart anyone. When he gets in a fix, he just whips out his wand and, shazam! Problem solved.

Now don’t get me wrong. I think J.K. Rowling absolutely deserves all the money she has made from the Harry Potter books and films. And any author whose work results in millions of young people standing in line worldwide to buy a book should be given the Nobel Peace Prize, the Pulitzer Prize, a Peabody Award, the People’s Choice Award, the Zombie Chicken Award, etc., etc.

I guess some people enjoy the fantasy of being able to access magic whenever things get harry—er, hairy. But I’d rather be like a James Bond, and be resourceful enough to use whatever is handy to stay alive and--of course--get the girl.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


Maybe some of you pet owners have experienced this, but it was a new one for me.

The veterinarian needed a fecal sample to test our Golden Retriever, Molly, for intestinal parasites.

Hey, no problem, I figured. I’ve got a whole backyard full of dog crap! Come on by, Doc, and take your pick among the variety of colors and textures. You can find the pungent piles right next to the spots of dying grass where my little princess empties her bladder every five minutes.

If only it was that easy. You see, the vet needed a fresh fecal sample that was less than four hours old.

So now I can add monitoring my dog’s bowel movements to my resume. As soon as I see her contributing her morning glory, I need to run out to the back yard and scoop up a dollop of doody.

But wait: Is there is a special kind of container in which I must place this cargo of crap? Maybe some sort of non-corrosive moon metal? The vet tells me that any container will be fine, even a baggie. OK, glad I got some clarification on that one. Saved me a trip to Petco.

For some reason, I felt ridiculous as I drove to the vet with a baggie full of dog shit on the seat next to me. (Maybe it was the seat belt. At least I could use the carpool lane.)

And then I felt doubly ridiculous when I approached the attractive young vet assistant at the counter, because then I had to explain exactly why I was there.

Assistant: Can I help you?

Me: Um, yeah. I have a fecal sample. It’s my dog’s.

(I added that last part just so there was no confusion, though now that I think about it, I wonder what my own sample would have shown. Food for thought.)

Assistant: OK.


Me: Uh, do you want it?

Assistant: Sure.

Her beautiful azure eyes oozed with erotic ecstasy as I reached up and handed her a Ziploc bag brimming with crap.

Assistant: That will be forty-two dollars today.

I felt like I was in some weird porno movie, because in what other scenario would excrement and money be in such close proximity? Aside from my wedding night, that is.

Next time, maybe I will smear some chocolate pudding on my cash beforehand just to see her expression when I fork over the fee. Oh well, that gives me something to look forward to.