Editorial License

Rob Hammerton, music educator etc.

Good Dog

There’s something you need to know about me, in order for the following story to make sense:

I’m not a dog person.

My family, as I grew up, had a pet cat for quite a long time; but that wasn’t it. It was probably the three German shepherds (or equivalent) that lived in my neighborhood, as I grew up, which were always in very bad moods all the time. They looked at me like I was either (1) an affront to their existence, or (2) tasty-looking, potentially with ketchup. One of them actually drew blood — mine — when I was three or four years old. So.

I could go on with stories about those miserable ambassadors of the canine world, but the following story is not about them. It is, rather, about a dog much more deserving of admiration and praise.

I met this particular dog several years ago, while I was visiting her mom’s house. When I arrived at the front door, and rang the bell, her mom (a longtime friend from college) came to the door and said, “you thought you even needed to ring the bell? Come in!” Well, it’s polite. Also, I knew there was a dog in the house (and, for the record, at least a couple of cats), and I wanted to give it a nice wide berth, since we had not yet formally met.

As any good guard dog would, the basset hound barked firmly, thrice. “Hello you!” I called, very bravely and with a completely false air of enthusiasm. Since this was a dog belonging to this particular longtime friend of mine, I felt I should be very polite and appear very friendly; so against all my life’s conditioning, I held my hand out in the basset’s direction, and hoped for the best.

Sniff. Sniff. Slight lick. Nod. Little tiny bark, more of a “gruff”. The sound didn’t sound anything like the German shepherds of my childhood had sounded. It didn’t sound at all like the last sound I would ever hear.

We adjourned to the den, which contained snacks and a large television. Upon sitting down on the couch, I sensed a presence down and to the right. Looking down, I discovered that the basset hound had followed at a careful remove, then crept around the couch, stopping at my foot and looking up expectantly. I patted her head. She did not bite my patting hand clean off.

For the next couple of hours, I was conversing with my old college friend, and petting my new basset friend.

For the next several visits, my new basset friend met me at the door with a couple of requisite barks, and then it was as if I hadn’t left. “Oh, it’s that one,” she seemed to muse; and for the rest of each visit, I appeared to be perfectly acceptable to her, and I was pleased that I still appeared to be perfectly acceptable to her. Particularly since those visits were yearly at their most frequent; but she remembered.

I was also always pleased to watch this dog and her mom take care of each other in equal measure.

The basset’s name was Della.

After a lengthy illness, Della passed away this morning.

I haven’t known many dogs well enough to really miss them after they’ve gone to their reward. And I got to hang out with this one no more than a dozen times, probably.

But I’ll really miss Della. And I have no doubt that the reward she meets will very well deserved indeed.

Good dog.

August 29, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Or Am I Overthinking This?, part 1

Planets don’t just arrive in outer space with names attached. Someone has to get in there and name them.

Whether it’s a scientist looking through a telescope and saying, “Yep, fits all the criteria for being a planet, let’s name it after a mythological character,” or it’s an explorer setting foot on it and saying “one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind, let’s call it Sherman’s Planet,” and hopefully the explorer’s name is Sherman otherwise it’s just weird…

Or, in our vivid imaginations, when we get to that planet and think about naming it, someone or something had gotten there first and named it, possibly using consonants and vowels we’ve never heard of and which we really have trouble pronouncing with our human faces.

So I got thinking this morning. Specifically, I got thinking about the planet Naboo, and what a goofy name for a planet that was.

Alderaan, Ceti Alpha V, Sherman’s Planet … dignified.

Naboo … a nonsense word uttered by a six-month-old. Naboo. Jakku. Dooku. Roku. Tofu. Babboo. Goo Goo.

I mean, come on.

Unless … unless Naboo means something dignified in someone else’s language.

Which led to the inevitable Star Wars universe question, one which I’m sure occurred to you shortly after you began reading this …

Did the humans, Queen Amidala’s ancestors (I presume; I mean, they didn’t put any prosthetics on Natalie Portman, did they?), name the joint “Naboo”? Or did the underwater Gungans, the floppy goofy ancestors of Jar Jar Binks, come up with that one and the humans heard it and just kinda went along with it? Did the humans, in a move utterly out-of-character for standard humans, punt on the opportunity to say “no! We the humans are in charge here now that we have arrived, and we declare this planet to be New Haven because that’s what it is!”…?

To me, “Naboo” frankly sounds much more natural coming out of the explosively drooly mouth of Boss Nass, the Gungan ruler (and the closest thing there is to Jabba the Hutt on an extreme bender), than it does coming out of the British-Empire-inflected mouth of Senator Palpatine.

If the humans named it “Naboo”, one can only wonder in what condition the explorers found themselves, after what presumably was a harrowing or interminable journey across the stars. Or perhaps the five explorers in the landing spacecraft were named Nancy, Abe, Barbara, Oliver and Oscar. Less fanciful; more logical. I’ve gone through all the possible anagrams, and … nope. Not that, either.

Perhaps in the Gungan language, “Naboo means “bountiful harvest” or “lovely view” or “planet which, against all science, has a core full not of molten hot magma but instead of water, so it’s lucky we’re built for swimming”.

Or am I overthinking this?

August 24, 2016 Posted by | movies, science fiction | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment