Friday, March 26, 2010

Comics Roundup for 3/24/10

I love comics. What did I get this week? Here goes...

Green Lantern #52 - This one fills in the space between the last issue of Blackest Night and the one that's coming out next week. It doesn't do much as far as the story is concerned, but it does elaborate on the ever-growing mythology of the emotional spectrum. I hope that Doug Mahnke sticks around for when this whole storyline wraps up, as his art is really great, especially with Christian Alamy's inks.

New Avengers #63 - Just like Dark Avengers, this fills in on the whole Siege storyline by giving us some flashbacks. Good thing, too, because there were some unresolved issues regarding Luke Cage and Jessica Jones. Supposedly this series is going to reboot when Siege is over. I'm not sure that I completely understand the point, but since Bendis is going to write that one along with the main Avengers title, I'll probably pick it up.

Batman: Streets of Gotham - Paul Dini's back! Good thing, too, as it finally gets back to the storyline that I was itchin' to see continue. I also am finding myself liking Dustin Nguyen's artwork more and more all the time. I remember not really digging his style at first when he started drawing Detective Comics, but I quickly got used to it. By this point, I'm a genuine fan of his stuff. The characters have a lot of movement to them, and they don't look like they're posing for pictures.

Nemesis - I thoroughly enjoyed Kick Ass (here's hoping that the movie will be good!) so I wanted to pick up Mark Millar's latest offering from Icon. The fact that Steve McNiven was drawing it didn't hurt either. Pretty good stuff so far, I have to say. The basic concept is that you've got this supervillain who travels from town to town in order to create chaos and ultimately destroy a famous police chief. Now he has his sights on the chief of Washington, D.C. Nemesis has already crashed Air Force One and taken the President hostage. How the heck is Blake Morrow going to take this guy on? I'll be there for the next issue.

Captain America #604 - Marvel's Editor-in-Chief, Joe Quesada, while addressing the criticisms from the Tea Party types over this current storyline, commented that the story hadn't completely played itself out, and those people should withhold judgment until it does. With this issue, we get a guy who's a Tea Party type act as one of the good guys. He even helps The Falcon out, and he denounces the fanatics/terrorists. Other than that, this was another solid issue. I find myself really digging The Falcon, and under Ed Brubaker, he's becoming one of my favorite characters. What's up with the crappy covers though? And what's up with the lame "Nomad" backup?

The Amazing Spider-Man #626 - Yet again, we have another artist whose style would be just fine for some other book, but it just doesn't work for Spider-Man. It's not quite as bad as the Electro/New Vulture issues, as at least it doesn't look like Spidey has a hernia while swinging through the city. The story was pretty good, and Parker's definitely having quite the pattern of bad luck. Next issue Lee Weeks will be drawing, so I'm excited about that.

Thor #608 - Considering how little we're seeing of the title character in this series, it's amazing how good it still is. Poor Volstagg is taking a pounding like never before. Also, it's good to see Kieron Gillen following up on issues from the last writer. I wonder about the new direction that the series will take under Matt Fraction. I'll be sure to check it out.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Puppy or not puppy, that is the question

Within days after Argos passed away, I was offered a puppy by my neighbor. She would always see me walking him, and she felt sad to hear that I had to put him down. Her dog had just given birth to a litter of puppies (eleven of them!) and she said that I could have the pick of the litter. Not only that, but she said that she wouldn't charge me anything.

My initial reaction was that this would be a bad idea. After all, I have a baby due in August, and as my friend Andrew Nolan pointed out, you have to spend at least fifteen minutes a day with one of those things. Apparently it takes a week or two before you can just point to the fridge and tell them to help themselves when they get hungry. Also, I've heard that there might be a time or two when I can't just pass the baby over to my wife. Puppies require even more work, of course, as you have to teach them how to speak English and how to hotwire a car in case you lose your keys.

Here's the thing though. Even though I still have ol' Willy, I want another dog. One reason is that I want a guard dog. Argos wasn't just a pet - he had a job. That job was to bark at people walking by the house. Sure it was annoying sometimes, but it certainly made me feel better about leaving the house. From what I've read, a barking dog is a big deterrent to thieves. Also, walking is the only form of exercise that I enjoy. Kirsti and I have a stationary bike that's more of a piece of furniture right now. There's no way in hell I'd get a gym membership. I like walks, and I've found that if I don't take one every day, it starts to have an impact not only on my physical, but on my mental health as well. Having a dog gives me the motivation to go on a walk every day, as I feel guilty if I don't do it.

But why not Willy? Haven't I been making progress with him? Well, yes and no. He's definitely getting better at it, but the fact of the matter is that he's just not a good walker. He's still overwhelmed when he goes outside, and sometimes walking him is far more stressful than relaxing. One of my plans was to continue to take Argos on walks when I had the baby, but the baby would come along with us (usually in the stroller, but there are also those thingees where you wear the baby in front or in back. I haven't looked into those too much.) I fully realize, of course, that my walks might get cut short as the baby might want to stop for a beer or something. Still, I think that these walks would be good for me, the dog, and the baby. And one thing's for sure - I don't want Mr. Stress-case Willy going with us. Will he be a good ol' Uncle Willy indoors? I'm sure of it. But a walkin' Willy? Not so much.

After some discussion, Kirsti and I determined that maybe we should get an adult dog - either a German Shepherd or a Rottweiler (or a mix of the two, as Argos was). We have enough familiarity with both breeds where we feel confident that we can handle them. We actually went down to the animal shelter yesterday, but we didn't find anything that suited us. (There was a beautiful Shepherd, but somebody already adopted him.)

On the way home, we saw our neighbor, and we got to take a look at the puppies. In a word - they were awwwwwww so cute! This is a good enough of a reason to get one, I think. After all, things that are cute in the moment remain cute forever, and there is never any other thing to consider as cuteness trumps all. After all, Argos was cute as a puppy, and we never had any trouble with him because he was super cute. When he destroyed the side of our shed, it was okay, because he was cute.

Seriously though, we got to meet the parents of these puppies. The mother was pure Rottie, and when we came in, she calmly stood up and greeted us, not worrying for a second about us touching her puppies. In fact, she enjoyed a little attention herself. The father, who is half Jack Russel and half Australian Blue Heeler, was also a nice dog. He was a little bit more energetic than mommy, but he was friendly and docile. As for the puppies themselves, if you told me that they were 100% Rottie, I would have no problem believing it.

Kirsti and I are leaning towards accepting my neighbor's very generous offer. If Kirsti was due next month, then we'd easily turn it down. The fact of the matter is that we have several months to break the new puppy in before the baby is born. Sure, you can't completely train a puppy in that time, but training a dog is a continuous process. We've never had a baby before, but this isn't our first rodeo when it comes to getting a dog. This time, we go in with a lot more knowledge and preparedness, and we'll be able to select a dog with the right temperament for what we want. Also, Kirsti's taking the entire summer off, which will give her a lot of time with the puppy. As for myself, I'm going to have most of the summer off, and that'll give me a chance to socialize and train the dog.

I fully realize that you don't know what you're in for with a baby until you actually have one. I also fully realize that even though I fully realize that, I still probably don't fully realize that. Is it possible that this is a huge mistake? Sure. But you know what? I've been making mistakes my entire life, and I'm still here. Not only that, but I'm not going in this alone - I do have my wife with me. I've already heard some "It's a huge mistake!" bits of advice, and trust me when I say that it's nothing that I haven't already contemplated in my own head. After all, I've heard a rumor that some people, when they have a baby, actually wind up with two babies! Some wind up with as much as three! All at the same time! Of course, you don't hear about these babies too much, as our tradition is to leave them in the evil forest so they can die. There's no way you can possibly raise two babies at a time.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Comics Roundup for 3/17/10

Here's what I got:

The Amazing Spider-Man #625 - While the artwork was a step-up from last issue, I'm still a bit disappointed with the artists that they've had on this title for the last several issues. Obviously, I'm not talking about the likes of Marcos Martin and that one guy who has a somewhat similar style whose name escapes me. Maybe they just set the bar too high at the beginning of the whole "Brand New Day" with the likes of Steve McNiven, Salvador Larocca, and Phil Jimenez. Anyway, the story was pretty solid, so that's okay. I'm looking forward to the upcoming Roger Stern/Lee Weeks "Something Can Stop the Juggernaut" storyline.

Echo #20 - I probably need to reread the past several issues, but I have this feeling that the cover of this issue gave away the big reveal at the end of the issue. It looks like that one creepy Asian guy is back, and now half of his face has been blown off. Pretty cool. Anyway, this remains a cool series, with a good mixture of plot and character development.

Siege #3 - This is the kind of thing that reminds me of why I love comic books. After the past couple of years of seeing the bad guys in charge, it's great to see the Avengers come back, with Steve Rogers as Captain America again. Also, it was great to see Spider-Man play such a major part in all this. It definitely makes it all make even more sense when he'll be a part of the regular, ongoing Avengers series. Not only that, but this issue ends on a pretty decent cliffhanger. Let's hope the final issue pays off.

Dark Avengers #15 - I really like the way they're handling this particular crossover. You don't need to read this to enjoy the main storyline, but it's cool to see a bit more backstory that this issue provides. Turns out that Bullseye is kind of a jerk. It's bad enough that he was so eager to kill the Sentry's wife in the first place, but first he has to screw around with her and insult her before he finally does the deed. Screwed up, but entertaining, stuff.

Batman #697 - Not much to say here, only that this is another solid issue from Tony Daniel. I'm glad that I kept with the series even when I was ready to drop it. Still, I should probably reread the entire storyline once the concluding chapter comes out. It turns out that he's sticking around for a while after that, and I'm just hunky-dory with this proposition. I think it's a safe bet that Bruce Wayne won't be back in time for #700 though.

Spider-Woman #7 - The final issue? What the ___? I was getting ready to stick with this series for the long haul, and all of a sudden this is going to be the last one? Brian Michael Bendis gives his reasons for ending the series (most of which have to do with artist, Alex Maleev) at the end of the issue, but still I gotta say that I didn't see that coming. Oh well, I'm looking to drop books, and even though I was warming up to this one, I guess it's nice to not have to decide that it's going to be one of the ones that I'll drop. Overall, a satisfying issue, and a good end to a short-lived series.

Monday, March 15, 2010

I've given up...perhaps.

While I don't exactly have a huge audience for my blog, I do get a fairly decent amount of hits. Some individual posts have gotten up to 60 hits - My post where I speculated on the Green Lantern movie has received 90 so far. For the most part, I seem to average about 20 hits a day, and that doesn't count the MySpace version of this blog. Surely, not all of these hits represent actual readers, but I figure if even as many as five people a day check out my blog, that's pretty cool - especially considering that it's mainly my random musings, and I'm not offering any kind of critical information on anything newsworthy.

Anyway, my posts have tapered off. One of the reasons is simply due to exhaustion from the Blog-A-Day/Haiku-A-Day/Movie-A-Day marathon. Another is that I feel that I have exhausted a topic that I used to write about quite a bit. No, there will always be things to say about comic books, so long as I'm still reading them. I'm sure that I'll have things to say about beer and Shakespeare as well. What I'm pretty much spent on is religion.

I always say that it's best to keep an open mind and never get to a point in your life where you feel that you have all the answers. I especially feel this way when it comes to matters of faith and religion. Shoot, that was my attitude even when I was a believer, and I felt that I needed to keep it that way when I finally lost my faith. Basically, it took me about five years of not believing to finally admit that I didn't believe, and it took me another five just to make certain.

I think that this is why I posted on these matters for so long and why I so vigorously got into debate with people (mostly online) about the matter. I figured that maybe there was some chance that I was getting it wrong. Maybe there was some argument for a god's existence that I just didn't hear yet. Maybe there actually was a logical and sensible way to reconcile how a loving god could allow for so much suffering in the world.

I'm coming to the realization that it's just not happening. I've debated so many people, and I keep hearing the same things - many of those things I once used to say and have long since rejected. These aren't even people who all know each other and I need to branch out and try some different folks. The thing is, all these people just keep saying the same stuff, and it's starting to bore me. I mean, if I hear the "God allows suffering because we have free will!" argument one more time, I might go into a coma due to its sheer tediousness. I might also vomit fire if people give me the arguments of the ridiculous apologetics of C.S. Lewis and Lee Strobel. I might even turn into a chimpanzee and raise an army of damned, dirty apes if I hear any more arguments about how intricate and amazing the world is while completely ignoring things like parasitic eye worms.

Or maybe this is finally starting to really cement in my head because my best friend just died of cancer. A loving god wouldn't let dogs get cancer. Yeah, I know, people might interpret this into the "You sound really angry" argument to dodge the fact that I'm right. If ever there was an argument that was a slam-dunk against the existence for a loving deity, it's that one. Maybe you guys should cut your losses and try and convince me that Odin exists by this point.

I suppose another possibility is that Epicurus already took care of this issue long ago when he posed his riddle:

Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?

Am I done with this topic? It feels like I am, but only time will tell. Sometimes I like to write for the sake of it, but as of now I'll just be repeating myself, I think.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Fire them lousy teachers!

If you've been following Obama's education overhaul ideas, you've probably heard that one of the supposed "solutions" to fixing our schools is to fire all the teachers at schools with students who test poorly. Makes sense, right? If the kids aren't testing well, then they aren't learning. If they aren't learning, it's because the teachers aren't doing their jobs very well.

There is a school in my district where there are really low test scores and a high dropout rate. My school fares much better, and the obvious reason is that we simply have better teachers at my school. Of course, there's a school that does even better, so even though we're pretty darned good, we're not quite the best. Sure, some folks like to point out that the lower-performing school has more students from a lower socio-economic class, and the one that does well is in a relatively wealthy neighborhood. But what does that have to do with anything? George Bush even said that "All children can learn." Are you going to argue with him?

It's also fantastic that we'll finally get rid of all these bad teachers. After all, you might not know this, but there is a virtual army of qualified, talented would-be teachers who just can't break through the front door due to all of these crappy teachers with their "tenure" who aren't making way for this fresh and exciting top talent. Well, fear this no longer!

I remember when I was teaching summer school some years back, there were a couple of teachers who were having a tough time getting a regular job in my district. And let me tell you, these guys were grade-A talent! They commanded so much respect from the kids that they felt comfortable letting the kids wander around the hallways almost a half hour before class was over! That's some pretty good control. I'm not good enough to trust my kids to just go waltzing out the door on a whim. I have to be some kind of crazy control-freak who wants them in the classroom until class is over!

Thank goodness we're not trying to do something and hold the kids and their parents accountable in this scenario. After all, we teachers see these kids for nine months (not counting weekends and holiday breaks) a year. How can parents compete with us for the hearts and minds of their children? I'm sure that there are a lot of parents who have books around their house, take time to talk to their kids about world events, science, and literature, and yet they still can't get their kids enthused due to the horrible job that some of these teachers are doing.

And how can we expect the kids to learn when they have better things to do? Some of them would rather hang out with their friends than do their homework. Well, maybe that homework is hella boring and gay. If these crappy teachers would stop giving such hella gay boring retarded assignments, then maybe the kids would be more enthusiastic about going to school and would actually start trying! One thing's for sure, if they're not learning, it certainly can't be their fault. If some kid only shows up to class once a week, sleeps through the class, and doesn't do any of his or her work, clearly it's the teacher's fault.

Walking with Willy

One of the reasons why it's been so tough losing Argos is that walking him was part of my every day routine. I don't think that there were many days out of the year when I didn't take him, and I knew when I lost him that I would definitely feel different if I stopped going for walks. After all, when he was out of commission after getting his toe removed, I continued to go on walks all by myself. Still, those walks didn't feel quite so depressing because I knew that eventually he'd be rejoining me.

Of course, one of the things that I've considered is getting a new dog to be my new walking partner. I haven't completely (just mostly) ruled that out due to the fact that I still have a dog, and that's Willy. I've actually written about him before on this blog, as it was a bit of a trial getting him and the cat, Oliver, to get alone. (They're still best buddies, and you can often find them making out with one another as the Westboro Baptist Church protests their unnatural and ungodly ways.)

The thing is, Argos was the outdoor, walking dog, and Willy was the indoor dog. Kirsti and I had to keep them separate after Argos was about two, due to the fact that they got in a really awful fight with one another. Since it took too much time going on two separate walks, Argos became the default walker since Willy got to hang out inside with us all the time. Not only that, but Argos clearly enjoyed walking more than Willy. Willy's a bit of a nervous walker, and he would sometimes bark hysterically if he saw another dog. (It wasn't an aggressive bark. In fact, he's really eager to meet new dogs, as he would always do when I'd take him to the groomer to get his nails trimmed. He'd just get frustrated when he wasn't allowed to check the other dog out.)

(Special note: Oliver is licking Willy's face as I type this sentence.)

With all this in mind, I figured that I'd still try and give Willy a chance. After all, I have had a bit of success with another supposedly difficult dog, Molly. I was told by my in-laws that it was impossible to walk her, but I actually got her to heel and walk better than I even could with Argos. I also have had pretty good luck walking the two little poodles of my in-laws. In addition, when my friend Jeff leaves his dog with me while he's out of town, I can get her to walk and heel just fine. If I could handle all of these, why not Willy, too?

The first few attempts met with the typical results. He'd bark hysterically when he'd see other dogs. He wanted to pull ahead and go off into five different directions at once, feeling the need to sniff out everything he saw. If I tried to give him a correction using the prong collar (which worked like a charm with Argos) he'd start to get even more panicky and protest even louder.

This just wasn't going to work, and I had to try a new tactic. I mean, going for walks isn't exactly fun when it's such a stressful ordeal. He gets stressed and it psychically goes right through that leash up to me. I figured that I'd do a little research, and I found one site that was pretty even-handed when it came to the usefulness of prong collars. Sure, you get some people trying to tell you how "inhumane" they supposedly are. Well, if you put one of those on a person, it would be pretty awful. Dogs, however, aren't built like us, and it doesn't feel the same on their necks as it would with ours. Not only that, but it only looks draconian, and it does a lot less damage than a choke collar - or if you just attach the leash to their regular collar and let them pull on that like crazy.

So, this site acknowledged that it was foolish to call the prong collar inhumane. At the same time, it noted that the prong collar is not the right solution for every dog - especially nervous dogs like Willy. It suggested using the collar but turning it inside-out. I gave that a go, and he'd protest much less when I'd correct him. Still, I wasn't quite satisfied, and then I remembered that I had long ago bought one of those "Gentle Leader" collars for him. The basic premise behind this one is that if the dog does something he's not supposed to do, you just gently lift up and it forces him to look straight ahead instead of off to the side.

How's that working? Well, he still whines a little, and when we came face-to-face with a couple of dogs that were barking hysterically at him, he went crazy. Also, he tries desperately to get the thing off, and starts to wear himself out pretty early. Still, we've passed by other dogs, and with a gentle pull, I got him to look the other way and not bark like a mad dog. Also, when he starts to whine, a gentle pull gets him to stop and redirect his focus.

It's still early to say, but I'm noticing a bit of slow, but steady progress. If things go well, maybe I'll take him on a hike in the Crockett Hills. Argos loved it up there, and considering that there aren't a whole lot of distractions with other people, cars, and other dogs, I think that Willy just might love it too.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Comics Roundup for 3/10/10

I'm starting to notice that the bulk of the comics I buy come out at the end of the month. I went two weeks, and I only walked away with five books on my last visit. What did I get?

Criminal: The Sinners #5 (of 5) - This was a satisfying conclusion to a pretty good story. It's probably my third-favorite storyline from Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips' crime/noir comic series. There were quite a few subplots being juggled around, and they all got resolved rather well. Even better, there's enough stuff still dangling that could be followed-up on for future stories.

The Amazing Spider-Man #623 & 624 - Paul Azaceta might be a pretty good artist for certain comics out there, but he's definitely not a good match for Spider-Man. The storyline involving yet another new Vulture was pretty good, but Azaceta's Spidey often looks like he's suffering from a debilitating hernia while swinging through the streets of New York. Now, this isn't as bad as whoever the heck drew that crossover with Deadpool issue, where I had a hard time following what was going on. Azaceta's storytelling skills are pretty good. Like I said though, his style just doesn't work for this book. Anyway, this storyline gave ol' Peter Parker even more troubles, and what's better than an angst-filled Peter Parker? (The good news is that I've read that Michael Lark is going to be drawing some more issues. Huzzah!)

Astro City: The Dark Age- Book Four #2 (of 4) - As I've stated before, I'm waiting until this whole thing concludes to read the entire "Dark Age" storyline.

Batman and Robin #10 - This was a surprisingly linear story for Grant Morrison, and it's starting to set up for the return of Bruce Wayne. I was telling myself that I was going to wait for the trade paperback in order to pick up the Return of Bruce Wayne limited series, but I'm a bit too intrigued with the idea of Batman traveling through the centuries in order to finally get back to the proper time period, so I'll probably get the first issue when it comes out. Anyway, this issue really has me wondering how they'll handle the new status quo. I'm starting to really like Damien Wayne as Robin - maybe he'll stick around as Bruce's partner.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

So closed for ever faithful Argos' eyes

I've written about my dog, Argos, quite a few times on this blog. Last summer, I wrote about how he had to get a toe removed due to a cancerous growth. We had hoped that would be the end of it, but it turned out to be a melanoma that would eventually spread through his body and kill him. For the past seven months, he's been doing pretty well, and I've been able to take him not only on his regular walks but on some pretty rigorous hikes through Mt. Wanda and the Crockett Hills.

Last week I reported that a lump on his leg was starting to bleed, and we had to take him to the vet to get it checked out. Basically, the deal was that if it was bleeding due to him chewing on it, then he would probably be okay. If it was bleeding due to the nature of the tumor, then the only thing to do was put him to sleep before he started to suffer. Unfortunately, the result turned out to be the latter explanation.

While at the vet yesterday, I made the last-minute decision to keep him for one more day. When we took him there yesterday, it was right after work, and I didn't get to take him on his nightly walk. I wanted to be able to take him not only on his nightly walk but on his Saturday morning extended walk to the park where I play fetch with him. Keep in mind that aside from the bleeding wound on the back of his leg, his spirits and energy level were both really high. Obviously the leg caused him some pain, but it wasn't the type of pain that prevented him from being able to walk, run and even jump.

The plan worked out pretty well. He got his walk last night, and he got to hang out with us until it was nearly bedtime. He wasn't too fond of his bandage, and he would sometimes whimper while he laid there. This morning he got down to the park just fine, and while he's been known to want to play fetch for much longer periods of time, he certainly did a lot of running before he finally laid down to call it quits.

The only thing that went bad is that about three hours before we were scheduled to have him put down, he started to have some really painful dry heaves. I've never seen him do this before, and it was really hard to watch it happen. He'd lie down and his body would convulse as he tried to cough out something while his mouth foamed up. He eventually stopped, but all he wanted to go do after that was lie down in his dog house.

Basically, Kirsti and I didn't want to just sit and watch him do that for the next few hours, so we called and managed to get an early appointment. It went as well as this sort of a thing possibly can go. Sure, there was a bit of difficulty finding a vein, but once it was in he was ready to go. The vet said that she noticed a change in him, and Kirsti and I were even more convinced that it was time to let him go. (The vet pointed out that his lips and tongue were both very pale. Not only that, but he had a hard time breathing unless he was standing up. Most likely he was starting to have some internal bleeding.)

If you have a dog, I cannot recommend it any more that you be there for him or her when you put your pet down. Argos had his head in my lap while my wife scratched his back. Not only that, but my sister-in-law and her boyfriend were there, and they too were petting him as he went down. It was very peaceful and very quick. Basically, he just got really tired and plopped his head down while I petted him behind the ears. Within moments the vet told us that he was gone. I could only hope to have as good of a death as that when my time comes.

I know that everybody loves their dogs. Shoot, I still have Willy, and I love that guy too. I've also had two other dogs in my life, and I really loved them. Argos was special to me. Maybe it's because I walked him every day and went through training with him that gave us a special bond.

Other people got a kick out of him too. Obviously, both my sister-in-law and her boyfriend loved him enough to want to be there with him. (Both of them were visibly sad as well.) The woman at the front desk at the vet remembered him when I simply mentioned his name over the phone. On more than one occasion, I've had people pull over their cars just to tell me what a handsome dog he was. He was also really good with little kids. Sure, he could be a bucking bronco with adults, but for some reason he'd always tone it down quite a bit when a little kid was around. One time, two little kids - both at eye level with him - walked right up to him and put their faces right up to him while putting their hands over his ears. What was his response? Gentle little kisses.

I don't know who, but somebody once said that when you get a pet, you just got yourself a tragedy waiting to happen. Nothing could be more true, so long as we're talking the literary definition of the word. I just finished Cyrano de Bergerac with my freshmen, and I feel sad every time I read that play (and then watch the movie with them). Still, that's only part of tragedy. Tragedies, at their best, also inspire us and remind us of the great potential that exists within our lives. When I think of Argos, I think of how he never let anything get him down. He'd always enjoy every moment for what it was, and even when he was in pain he never sat around feeling sorry for himself. (Of course, these are universal attributes for dogs.)

And of course, when I think of Argos, I'll always think of his namesake. For those who don't know, he was named after the dog of Odysseus in Homer's The Odyssey. Essentially, Argos' tale is a mini tragedy unto itself. After twenty years of being gone from home, Odysseus returns to find that his home has been overrun with a bunch of suitors who make the moves on his wife and have no respect for the laws of the gods. Waiting for him this whole time is his faithful dog, Argos, who nobody bothers taking care of since Odysseus has gone missing. The dog is old, flea-bitten, and lying on a dung heap, but when he hears his master's voice, his ears prick up and his tail manages to barely wag. Odysseus is unable to go up and pet his dog (he's in disguise and petting an old, flea-bitten dog would give him away) but he manages to wipe away a tear when nobody is looking. As for old Argos, he lies down and dies. Sad? Obviously. But the dog dies happy because he's once again in his master's presence.

Thousands of years ago, people understood just as well as we do now how great a dog is. The story of Argos is the story of how faithful and instantaneously joyful dogs can be. My Argos couldn't have had a more fitting namesake.
So they spoke. And a dog, lying there, lifted its head and pricked up its ears. Argus was the hound of noble Odysseus, who had bred him himself, though he sailed to sacred Ilium before he could enjoy his company. Once the young men used to take the dog out after wild goat, deer and hare, but with his master gone he lay neglected by the gate, among the heaps of mule and cattle dung that Odysseus’ men would later use to manure the fields. There, plagued by ticks, lay Argus the hound. But suddenly aware of Odysseus’ presence, he wagged his tail and flattened his ears, though no longer strong enough to crawl to his master. Odysseus turned his face aside and hiding it from Eumaeus wiped away a tear then quickly said: ‘Eumaeus, it’s strange indeed to see this dog lying in the dung. He’s finely built, but I can’t tell if he had speed to match or was only a dog fed from the table, kept by his master for show.’

Then, Eumaeus, the swineherd, you replied: ‘Yes this dog belongs to a man who has died far away. If he had the form and vigour he had when Odysseus left for Troy you’d be amazed by the speed and power. He was keen-scented on the trail, and no creature he started in the depths of the densest wood escaped him. But now he is in a sad state, and his master has died far from his own country, and the thoughtless women neglect him. When their masters aren’t there to command them, servants don’t care about the quality of their work. Far-voiced Zeus takes half the good out of them, the day they become slaves.’

With this he entered the stately house and walking straight into the hall joined the crowd of noble suitors. As for Argus, seeing Odysseus again in this twentieth year, the hand of dark death seized him.