A Monumental Puppy Statue Guards the Bilbao Guggenheim

Canines maintain a large stature in Art. The monumental Puppy statue, who guards the door of the Bilboa Guggenheim Museum, proves it.

Puppy is a 40-foot-tall West Highland Terrier, covered with a living flower bed. Not at all realistic, but it shows you art is so important — it has a special license. Artists can stir your soul, without getting arrested.

I am very stirred, quivering all over. I would like to sniff the flowers at the base of that stature, in the back. Puppy is clearly Alpha of the Bilboa Guggenheim. (Who would waste snack allowance on the cost of indoor admission?)

Puppy Bilboa is happy, too. Watch the video and look for his tail wag.

"Puppy" gazes at the distant hills of Bilbao, Basque Country, Spain.
Puppy gazes at the distant hills of Bilbao, Basque Country, Spain. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Puppy artist: Jeff Koons. Bilboa Guggenheim Museum architect: Frank Gehry. The guy in the video is Jeff Koons.

Chester Chronicles the Canine News


Celebrating World Space Week

In 1957, Russian canine Laika was the very first cosmonaut to orbit the Earth. Ever since that momentous time, dogs have played a vital role (per usual) in space travel (and everywhere else).

Russian cosmonaut dog Laika on Romanian stamp
Romanian stamp from 1959 with Laika. The caption reads “Laika, first traveller into Cosmos.” (Photo: Wikipedia Commons)

With such important history in mind, today we celebrate World Space Week (October 4-10) with funny-dog Maymo. Woof!

Chester Chronicles the Canine News

President Graves: Making Conservatives Compassionate Again

Politics Of Graves

“Creator of Graves, cast and crew discuss how Graves is the perfect response to the current political climate.” ~ EPIX

Over the weekend, I belatedly discovered the 2016 TV series Graves, starring Nick Nolte. (Thank you Netflix.) While the Democrat Party is still struggling to comprehend that American voters have gone populist, the producers of Graves were happily onto that phenomenon at least two years ago. Graves is a great TV series.

Political Correctness and Expediency Targeted

Series premise in a nutshell: Nolte plays Richard Graves, who is a former Republican president from a time period somewhere between Reagan and Bush. 25 years later, Graves is awash with regret for what he did during his term of office. He now wants to set things right. Thus, the stage is set for both comedy and social drama.

In the first four episodes of Season One (2016), which I have watched so far, Graves touches on the political issues that surround cancer research, immigration, and gay marriage. Somewhere along the way, a news anchor character quips that former President Graves is “making Conservatives compassionate again.” People are thrilled; the current administration is not.

Expect the show to target the underside of political correctness and expediency. Also expect to see cameo appearances by real-life political figures. For viewers, this creates a kind of cognitive disconnect, as each cameo appears to innocently believe that he or she is above the political quagmire. It’s good-natured comedy.

If and when the series deals with the corruption of Big Money in politics, I will be extremely pleased.

Characters with Good Instincts

In contrast to that other TV series about a U.S. President, House of Cards, we find that the main characters in Graves are not too damaged to exhibit positive impulses.

The former First Lady Margaret Graves, played by Sela Ward, has political ambitions of her own. I expected her character to be cold and ruthless. Refreshingly, however, Maggie is no Ice Queen. She actually loves her husband. And while greatly inconvenienced, she does not reject his social epiphany and change in moral direction.

The younger Graves are spoiled, insecure, and self-centered. Olivia Graves (Helene Yorke) was recently dumped by her Rockefeller husband. Jeremy Graves (Chris Lowell) has just returned from his tour in Iraq, where he worked in food service. Still, underneath, they seem to have good instincts. You get an inkling that they will persevere, and perhaps thrive one day.

The Graves family is in the process of developing a stronger, better character.

Then you have Richard Graves’ idealistic and proper aide, Isaiah Miller (Skylar Astin), and his lovely young authenticity mentor Samantha Vega (Callie Hernandez). These two characters are an equally-weighted set of paradoxical sanity anchors.

A Nonpartisan Political Dream

Graves is the fictional manifestation of our nonpartisan political dream. It’s about could-be leaders who grow and change. It’s about would-be policies that embrace the big picture. It’s about fictional characters with good instincts. And for most real-life viewers, that’s something we can identify in ourselves and other people.

Whether Conservatives become compassionate again, turn into economic Progressives, or regain a traditional Conservative stance (i.e., able to withstand some corporate pressure), Graves artfully uses the Conservative Establishment to spring open the door to a stimulating political discussion. We are all countrymen, not enemies, after all — maybe Conservatives can represent stability, and maybe Progressives can represent growth — we do need both. We should talk more, while appreciating that the “other side” also has fine ideas and good instincts.

You may catch “Graves” on the EPIX cable TV station. Season Two will air in the Fall of 2017.

Watch good TV

Stephen King Has Me Stumped on the Meaning of Shit

It’s been 24 hours since I finished Finders Keepers by Stephen King, read by Will Patton (exceptional narrator). I’m still dissatisfied with something.

I learned what “shit” does not mean, but did not learn what “shit” does mean.

As you may know, Finders Keepers (2015) is Book #2 in King’s Bill Hodges detective series. At first, I was startled to find that Stephen King is writing detective novels. But then again, why not? King is equally versatile as he is talented. King can easily embody the detective genre. “It might be the best detective story I ever read,” I thought. (Before I read it.)

After testing the full pudding, Finders Keepers was awarded only three out of my five stars.

A Disappointing Motif

My complaint, or disappointment, is very specific — yet specific to something continually repeated throughout the entire book.

Let me explain. (Don’t worry, this won’t be much of a spoiler.)

One of the characters in Finders Keepers is a famous author. This author character gets murdered early on. However, the fictional character he created, Jimmy Gold, seems to live eternally in the souls of young male readers, wielding tremendous influence on their lives, inspiring one to do this and making another do that. Whether for good or evil, the iconic Jimmy Gold is an unforgettable character in the annals of literature (at least, within the pages of King’s book).

The near-mythic Jimmy Gold character had appeared in the author’s highly acclaimed novel series many decades earlier. King’s story unfolds around the present-day discovery of unpublished Jimmy Gold book manuscripts — that are now worth millions. Nevertheless, the main characters in Finders Keepers are motivated more out of love for the books, than for their monetary value.

As a literary motif throughout, characters repeatedly quote a famous expression of the legendary Jimmy Gold. Now you know, the repeated quote of a monumental character of a renown author should really be something. Profoundly meaningful. Scoring your memory forever.

Hold on to your hats, friends. Druummmm Rollll….Please!

“Shit don’t mean shit.”
~ Jimmy Gold (and all his admirers)

Don’t tell me that isn’t a letdown. It doesn’t even mean anything backwards.

Looking for Genius

As a King fan, I’ve tried to find genius in the phrase. I’ve examined. I’ve pondered. Nothing. It remains barely mediocre.

Still, for the love of Stephen King, convince me I’m wrong. Is “shit don’t mean shit” supposed to be absurdism? A parody of big-ego authors? Does the phrase actually pierce the soul of the young-male reader demographic? Is Finders Keepers a treatise on nihilism?

I just don’t get “Shit don’t mean shit.”

However, ironically, despite the mediocrity, I may never forget the phrase. (Imagine, writing this little piece on the meaning of shit.) It’s so plain, so mediocre, compared to what King can do — that it makes me laugh. It’s like he didn’t try. “Shit don’t mean shit” is so stupid. It doesn’t mean anything. Or rather, “shit don’t mean shit” means exactly what it says.

What do you think King was going for?

Always reading.

Adopt Instead of Shop

Today is National Puppy Day! Happy, happy, happy!

Adopt Instead of Shop

It’s a good thing National Puppy Day’s motto is “Adopt instead of shop.” I don’t remember being a puppy. I celebrate, though–because I remember being adopted

I was on death row. The shelter people had me so long, they began whispering. Early one Saturday morning, they hauled all us unadoptable dogs over to a big store named Pet Smart. It would be my last chance to hook up with a human.

My coat was overgrown and shabby–Nerve-wracking! I smiled and wagged my tail more than ever–Exhausting! If anyone came near, I stood on my hind legs and twirled–Dizzying!

Pet shoppers kept asking, “Where are the puppies?” Blast! I was a young adult.

Hours passed. Finally, in one desperate last-ditch attempt, the animal worker girl made a sign and taped it to my crate. It read, “Loves People.” (Exactly what I was trying to tell everybody!)

That girl was a marketing genius… or the hand of God. As I scanned the meandering shoppers, it wasn’t long before I spied a glowing, shimmering aura that was advancing… straight toward me! My eyes dilated. All I could see was shining light.

We fell in love at first sight (though I was nearly blinded.) I would have a home. She would never be alone.

I heard her soft, melodious voice “coo” over me. She murmured, “Poodle? Bichon?” Her tender hands stroked my head and massaged behind my ears. I stood perfectly still, so as not to break the spell. (In theory. Technically, my tail was a blur!) This human smelled divine–a lot like chocolate.

She was my Lacey. My soon-to-be forever-human.

I thought the two of us would just stroll out the Pet Smart door and ride off into the sunset. (I didn’t care where we went–together!)

As it turned out, Lacey and I could not be together–without a battle. One of the other dogs, that big, mangy, truly unadoptable German Sheppard (at the shelter longer than me!)… liked her, too. You should have seen how he insinuated himself, blocking my view, and paraded himself right in front of Lacey!

To be continued…

Read more Chester Stories

A Progressive Christian Voice: John Pavlovitz

Pastor John Pavlovitz

Church pastors often take great care to be non-political as they tend their flocks. Yet, there is a far-right Christian political faction that wields a great deal of influence within the Republican Party. For many well-meaning conservative Believers (with the help of conservative corporate media, a slew of far-right celebrity commentators, and prosperity Gospel preachers), the line between political propaganda and the teachings of Christ have become blurred.

Therefore, I’m happy to report my discovery of a shining Progressive Christian voice that says “stuff that needs to be said.” It’s the voice of John Pavlovitz, youth pastor at the North Raleigh Community Church in North Carolina.

For the sake of balance in Christian spiritual politics, and for your (as Bible teachers like to say) edification, here’s a link to Pavlovitz’s latest blog post…

The Christians Who Defunded Jesus | JohnPavlovitz.com

“The President’s proposed budget and the GOP’s recent maneuvers preceding it, seek to drastically reduce or eliminate funding for programs and services that tend to the urgent needs of our most vulnerable, most on the margins, most threatened citizens—the working poor, the hungry, the homeless, the physically sick, the mentally ill, the disabled, the elderly, those in public housing.

It’s a clear, shameless assault on those Jesus called “the least of these;” the ones he lived in solidarity with while here….”

~ John Pavlovitz

Be aware. Be fair. Be objective.

Where Does Standing Rock Stand?

What is happening with the Standing Rock Water Protectors in North Dakota? Since the last protesters were rounded up at the end of February, we’ve heard little about saving Native American sacred treaty lands, or protecting clean water for millions of creatures, or preserving human rights (which I am all for; my best friend is human).

The Black Snake & End Times

Ancient Hopi & Lakota Prophecies warned of “The Black Snake” trying to cross their rivers. If “The Black Snake” succeeds, it marks the end of the world. It may be selfish, but I’m glad we canines have shorter life spans than humans–because end times will be terrible.

I’m no sissy, I fear no natural snake, but I am afraid of “The Black Snake.” Any sensible person would be.

Right now, in our modern days, Standing Rock Water Protectors are trying to stop “The Black Snake,” AKA the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), from crossing the Missouri River–which is a really big aquifer. (An aquifer is how God and Nature store water for crops and everyone to drink.)

Only Weapons of Peace

Standing Rock protesters rely only on weapons of peace. No violence!

While standing their ground for over a year, they prayed, sang and danced. Indigenous people from all around the world joined them. So did social activists and environmentalists. And buffalo. And artists–like the dancers in the video below, who are astonishing…!

“We decided to make this video to show our support for everyone at Standing Rock and all those who are fighting for the cause. Know that your voices and actions are reaching all around the world. We hope this video will not only bring about awareness but unite us to stand together for what’s right to protect our Mother Earth (Gaia) in making our world a better place. Injustice anywhere threatens justice everywhere.” ~ The Lor Brothers

But the opposition was not as nice. They used rubber bullets, pepper spray, and deafening sirens to beat back the protesters. They even used attack dogs (who grew up in bad environments with crazy propaganda) to scare and hurt the Water Protectors.

When U.S. Veterans saw that dogs were being brainwashed, they knew they had to restore sanity. They planned to form a human shield for the Water Protectors on December 4, 2016. But as soon as President Obama saw he was backed by highly influential Americans (Vets are human heroes), he ordered DAPL to stop.

But then we got a new President who only cares about money. (And he doesn’t allow dogs in the White House.) This guy said DAPL could go ahead. Grrrrrrrrr! The Water Protectors were threatened with trespassing. They had to leave Standing Rock. The Bureau of Indian Affairs and the police rounded up lingering protesters and sent them away. Grrrrrrrrr!

Forced to leave Standing Rock, the Sioux Nation is now trying to use judicial law to stop “The Black Snake.” The ACLU is helping them! The new President doesn’t understand much about law, so this legal battle against DAPL might work!

But protests and demonstrations are far from over. On March 7, 2017, indigenous rights activists gathered at the Washington Monument in D.C. to stand against the Dakota Access Pipeline. And people all around the world are still divesting their money from banks that support DAPL.

More on Standing Rock Water Protectors

Breaking News – Black Snake Prophecy Happening NOW – Standing Rock (Video) | Joseph Tittel

‘We Must Kill the Black Snake’: Prophecy and Prayer Motivate Standing Rock Movement | CBC News

Indigenous Native American Prophecy Elders Speak (Full Video) | Jeremiah Rebelmusic

A Harmonious Resistance Creates Global Solidarity for Standing Rock | National Geographic

Standing Rock Fight Comes to Washington for Multiday Protest | ABC News

Ashley Judd’s Full Speech at “Women’s March” in Washington D.C. – “I Am a Nasty Woman” | Youtube

It’s been a week; time to revisit. But if you haven’t yet witnessed actress Ashley Judd’s dramatic interpretation of Nina Donovan’s poem “Nasty Woman,” my advice is to sit down and buckle up. Your heart will likely lurch throughout the entire performance.

Tina Donovan is a 19-year-old woman from Tennessee. She wrote her protest poem after viewing the presidential debate in which Donald Trump called Hillary Clinton a “nasty woman.” Ashley Judd performed the spoken word art on January 21, 2017 at the Women’s March on Washington.

Meet Nina Donovan, the 19-Year-Old Poet Behind Ashley Judd’s Explosive Women’s March Speech | i-D Vice

“Last Saturday morning, actress and activist Ashley Judd performed Nina’s poem “Nasty Woman” to a crowd of 500,000 protesters at the Women’s March on Washington, following speakers including Angela Davis, Gloria Steinem, and America Ferrera. Judd’s reading was streamed by NBC, ABC, and thousands of raised iPhones to viewers all over the world, including Nina herself. “I was at the march in Nashville with friends, watching it on my phone,” she says, “It was like a dream.” […] ~ Alice Newell-Hanson

“Nasty Woman” by Tina Donovan

I’m a Nasty Woman.
Not as nasty as a man who looks like he bathes in cheeto dust.
Not as nasty a man who is a diss track to America.
From Back to broken Back he’s stomped on, his words are just more white noise ruining this national anthem.
I’m not as nasty as confederate flags being tattooed across my city;
maybe the south actually is going to rise again
Or maybe it never really fell
Because we’re still drowning in vanilla coated power
Slavery has just been reinterpreted into the prison system
Black lives are still in shackles and graves just for being black in front of people who see melanin as animal skin
Tell me of a decade that didn’t have traces of white hoods burning up our faith in humanity.
I’m not as nasty as a swastika painted on a pride flag
And I didn’t know that devils could be resurrected but I feel Hitler in these streets
A mustache traded in for a Toupee
The Nazis renamed The Cabinet
Conversion therapy the new gas chamber,
Shaming and electrocuting the gay out of America
turning rainbows into suicide notes.
I’m not as nasty as racism, or fraud, or homophobia, sexual assault, transphobia, white supremacy, white privilege, ignorance, or misogyny
Not as nasty as trading girls like pokemon before their bodies have even evolved.
Not as nasty as your own daughter being your favorite sex symbol
Like wet dreams infused with your own genes.
But yeah!
I’m a nasty woman.
A phunky
Nasty woman.
Not as nasty as the combo of Trump and Pence being served into my voting booth,
But I’m nasty like the battles women fought to get me in that voting booth.
Nasty like the fight to close the wage gap.
Nasty like conversations trying to remind people there is such thing as a wage gap.
Tell me that this is only because women usually go into lower paying fields.
So why did last year’s top actresses make less than half of what the top actors did?
Do you realize that the World Cup shelf of the U.S. men’s soccer team is as empty as Trump’s promises
But the women’s team has scored three World Cups,
In 2015, brought in 20 million more dollars in revenue than the men’s team,
but is still paid 75% less?
See even when women go into high paying careers, their wages are still cut with blades sharpened by testosterone.
Tell me why the work of a black woman and a hispanic women is only worth 63 and 54 percent of a white man’s privileged paycheck?
This is not a feminist myth;
this is inequality.
So we are not here to be debunked
We are here to be respected.
We are here to be nasty
like blood stained bedsheets.
In case you forgot,
women don’t choose when or if they get their periods!
Trust me, if could we would!
We don’t like throwing away our favorite pairs of underwear!
But men can choose to not have sex
And they know how to live without a full head of hair,
so why are tampons and pads still taxed, but Viagra and Rogaine isn’t?
Is your erection really more important than protecting the messy parts of my womanhood?
Is the thinning of your hair really more embarrassing than the period-staining of my jeans?
I know it seems petty to complain about a few extra cents
But it’s just the finishing touch on a pile of change I have yet to feel in this country.
So don’t try to justify our injustices with excuses that smell like your security when you’re walking alone to the bathroom
or your car
or down the street.
Security my eyes have yet to see
Their too busy praying to my feet
So you don’t mistake eye contact for wanting physical contact
I’ve been zipping up my smile so you don’t think I want to unzip your jeans.
I know you forget to examine the reflection of your own privilege
You may be afraid of the truth
But I’m not afraid to be honest
I’m not afraid to be nasty
Yeah I’m nasty
like the struggle of women still beating equality into the world,
because our rights have been beaten out of us for too long.
And our fight will continue to embody our nastiness.
I’m nasty like red, white, and blue bruises.
Nasty like Elizabeth, Amelia, Rosa, Eleanor, Condoleezza, Sonia, Malala, Michelle.
Our mothers, our sisters, us sisters are all nasty like history
And our pussies
ain’t for grabbing
They’re for reminding you that our walls are stronger than America’s ever will be.
They’re for birthing new generations of
Nasty women.
So if you a nasty woman
say hell yeah.