Friday, January 7, 2011

Why They Love the Monster

People cheer for the monster. They reward it with piles of money and fancy cars. They put it on television and worship its glory. They hope, dream and pray that it vanquishes its opponents. The President of the United States has praised its new employer for giving it a second chance.

A second chance... Yeah, that must be nice. Of course, if you are a dog that the monster abused, forced against your nature to fight another dog that was equally abused, and you had the audacity to lose... you did not get a second chance. You got lynched, drowned or smashed into the ground... maybe all three... until you were dead. Painfully dead. No second chance.

Of course, if you won, then you did get that second chance. A second chance to once again fight your canine brother or sister for the sick pleasure of the monster. You just had to be sure you did not lose. You were fighting for your life. You lose. You die. No second chance.

Obviously the monster I am referring to is Philadelphia Eagles quarterback and vicious dog killer Michael Vick. I refer to Vick as "it" because I cannot bring myself to recognize Michael Vick as a man. A man does not abuse helpless animals. A man does not kill a creature that knows only loyalty and trust. A man does not do the things Michael Vick did.

So why do people cheer for the monster? Why did the Eagles hire it and why would anyone want their business or product associated with it? Why would anyone want to see it succeed in anything? Why does President Obama think it deserves a second chance?

Part of the problem (and yes, this is a problem if we are to ever truly be a civilized society that values life and has any hope of living in peace with one another) is the misconceptions about certain breeds of dogs. The media focused on Vick's pit bulls, so a large part of society just looked at it like the monster was just letting pit bulls be pit bulls. But this is not what pit bulls do.

What pit bulls do, when raised as they should be with love and gentle kindness, is protect those they love, give companionship to their masters, play with anyone willing to spend a few minutes tossing a ball around, and basically give back ten times the love they receive. They do not attack. They do not fight other dogs (unless protecting their loved ones). They never intentionally cause pain.

Another reason is some people do not care at what price victory comes. The monster is a great football player. No one denies that. The monster wins games. The football fans who support it want it to win games. So they just ignore what it has done. They rationalize that the crime had nothing to do with football. They just want to win.

They do not realize, or at least do not think about, the suffering the monster caused the dogs that were not winners. They do not realize that justice would be for this animal to be put down the first time it lost a game, the same as this vile creature did to the animals that lost for it. Most of all, they do not realize what the world has lost when a dog is turned into a fighter, is killed because it did not develop the killer instinct, or dies in a fight with another dog.

Every dog is a potential beloved companion to someone who desperately needs a sincere friend. Every dog has an immense amount of unconditional love to give to someone deserving or even less than deserving. A dog never demands perfection and willingly gives unlimited second chances. Every dog can become not just a pet but a beloved part of a family.

Dogs are intelligent creatures. They may not be able to multiply fractions or write best-selling novels, but they can figure out what is expected of them. Dogs have a desperate desire, an undeniable need, to please their master. When treated with kindness, a dog rewards the master with dedication, loyalty and friendship. This is truest of some of the breeds that are most feared by those not familiar with them -- rottweilers, dobermans... and pit bulls.

Because of the misconceptions about these breeds, many people see these dogs as less deserving of humane treatment than some other dogs that may be considered more cute and cuddly. But these breeds, pit bulls included, are as loving and ready to snuggle as they could possibly be. They do not just enjoy it. They practically live for it. And indeed, these dogs deserve to live for it.

I am a sports fan. I can forgive Pete Rose for betting on baseball games. I can forgive John McEnroe for all his antics on the tennis court. I can forgive all the players in various sports who used steroids and other performance enhancing drugs. I can even forgive boxer Mike Tyson for biting off Evander Holyfield's ear. Well, almost. But I cannot forgive a monster that kills loving, caring beings that had so much to give the world.

I would like to recommend two books for both dog lovers and anyone who does not understand how special a dog is. The first is The Lost Dogs by Jim Gorant and it is about the dogs Michael Vick and its cohorts abused, now known as the Vicktory Dogs. It describes what their life was like chained in an open field and forced into a life of aggression as well as what they have become once freed from that horrible life. It is, as the cover states, a tale of rescue and redemption.

The book has a happy ending but I would only caution those who read it not to become too elated thinking this is the fate of all dogs rescued from dogfighting rings. In fact, this is the exception as the more common outcome is that these innocent creatures are euthanized even when rescue organizations volunteer to take them on because judges do not understand that these animals can be saved.

Shockingly, even the Humane Society of America and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals inexplicably usually support putting down the animals in these situations without first trying to rehabilitate them. Fortunately there are people like Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, one of the organizations who took in many of the Vicktory Dogs, who understand these dogs can be saved and are doing what it takes to do so. Hopefully their success will help bring change so that more dogs can be saved.

The second book I would like to recommend is A Big Little Life, a memoir of his dog, Trixie, by Dean Koontz. He tells Trixie's story not only from the time he and his wife adopted her until her passing years later, but also he discusses her life prior to coming into his home. She quickly became a part of their family, a treasured companion and much like a daughter to them, but Trixie was a special girl even before she met Dean Koontz.

The golden retriever was a retired support animal having previously helped a disabled lady until medical problems ended Trixie's career early. She was trained from birth to meet the special needs of her human companion and from all accounts she loved the work and did a great job.

It is impossible to read this book without realizing just how special a dog can be. Not only was her younger years dedicated to serving her special master, but her later years filled the lives of her new family with joy. But I warn you, in the end when Trixie passes, though you know it is inevitable, it will break your heart.

No one should be allowed to treat a dog the way the monster did. And yet out there in this cold hard world, there are other monsters just like Michael Vick. They are looking at this monster and thinking maybe what they are doing isn't so bad. People cheer this monster. People give him big rewards. Nobody seems to care about the dogs who were murdered by the monster. They are just dogs.

Yes, they are just dogs. But dogs are something special and they deserve to be treated with respect, kindness and caring. Michael Vick can never make up for what he did to those dogs so he can never truly pay for it. A few months in prison is hardly punishment for brutally taking the lives of those dogs that did not survive and the pain and torture endured by those that did.

Why do they love the monster? The only answer I can find, as much as it pains me as a human being to admit, is that they love the monster because the monster is them. Or at least a part of them. And that is a very scary thought indeed.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Heavy Pettin: Rock Ain't Dead

I wrote a new hub over on HubPages about NWOBHM'ers Heavy Pettin. Check it out...

Lesser Known Stars of the NWOBHM: Heavy Pettin

Friday, January 8, 2010

At the Drive-In: The Best of 2009

I am sure you have all been waiting anxiously for my Top Ten Movies of 2009 list, so you will be pleased to know you must wait no longer. But before we get into the movies, let me just say that this year was a rather light year for movie going and, in fact, even for DVD viewing, so there are many films I have not seen. So if you saw something awesome that is missing from my list, please do not hesitate to let me know. But as for me, here's my list...

1. Zombieland

"Where are you, you spongy, yellow, delicious bastards?"

Was there any doubt in your mind? Of course not! I mean, we have zombies, roller coasters and we have Woody. And then, of course, we also have Bil... oh wait... Don't want to spoil it for you if you haven't seen it yet! Definitely the most awesome movie of the year, but alas, not the all-time greatest zom-com (that's "zombie comedy" for those of you who may not be up on your hip terminology) as I had hoped. Definitely not as good as Shaun of the Dead. Probably close to a tie with Fido. Still, an excellent flick.

2. Law Abiding Citizen

"My wife and daughter can't feel anything. They're dead."

The previews for this movie built my anticipation of the film to the point that when it was released I was almost convinced it would be a disappointment. Fortunately, I was worried for nothing. The movie was as awesome as it seemed with a great plot and amazing performances by all the stars. Plenty of action and yet underneath it all is a movie that makes you think. Who is the good guy? Who is the bad guy? The only thing for sure is the system has failed and the average joe on the street is the first to get the shaft.

3. Taken

"I believe you. But that won't save you."

Unlike Law Abiding Citizen, it is very easy to decide who is the hero and who is the scum sucking bastard in Taken, an action thriller starring Liam Neeson. Yes, I said Liam Neeson. And Liam surprised us all by rocking the balls off the role. Probably because while he is able to play a convincing secret agent / super spy he is also able to play a concerned father who will storm the Gates of Hell to get his daughter back. Really there is more concerned father in the part than super spy anyway. He just happens to be a concerned father who knows how to fuck you up if need be. And well, the need did indeed be.

Released at the end of January, this movie was in the #1 spot on my list for most of the year and when I get the DVD it might even manage to wiggle its way up past Law Abiding Citizen. But even super spy Liam will not be able to wrestle the top spot back from Woody and the zombie hoard.

4. The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard

"Ahhhh, it feels like a Smurf jizzed all over my face!"

"If he pulls this one off, I'll eat my own pussy."

"Look, I may be old fashioned, but when a man tells me to wear my boner pants, I wear my boner pants."

"Nobody tells DJ Request what to play."

"Don Ready is the rash between my ball sack and inner thigh."

I wasn't sure what to expect from this movie because, on the one hand, the previews were the funniest I had seen in some time. But on the other hand, it is a movie about car salesmen. But then so is Cadillac Man. I gave the movie a chance. What I got was the "quote movie" of the year. Line after line to crack you up so that repeated viewings are required just to get all the jokes. Yes, this one is definitely a winner and your best bet if you are just looking for a laugh.

5. (500) Days of Summer

"Just because she likes the same bizarro crap you do doesn't mean she's your soul mate."

Any guy who has ever fallen for a girl that only wants to be friends will certainly identify with this movie. Why does he do it? You cannot really fault her as she never lies to him and tells him exactly what he can expect. And yet he still falls in love with her. And he gets exactly what she told him he would. Though I guess in fairness to the guy you have to admit that while she was saying one thing her actions sure seemed to say something else. Or maybe that's just the guy in me talking... See the movie.

6. Year One

"I'm sorry. I wasn't listening. All my brain blood was in my boner."

Yeah, I know. You think it sucked. Everybody in the world except me seems to think the movie sucked. But I thought it was hilarious. Jack Black's best work since The Pick of Destiny and, as much as I want to dislike Michael Cera, he makes a great sidekick for Jack in the movie. I can admit that Jack Black's departure from the tribe at the beginning of the film was pretty much lifted from his departure from the band at the beginning of School of Rock, but so what? It was funny the first time and it is funny the second time. It will probably be funny the third time.

7. Push

"Buy an umbrella. It's gonna rain."

This wasn't a very good year for sci-fi flicks. (And yes, I did see Star Trek. It was very flashy and high tech but it was lacking something.) Anyway, Push was this year's Jumper. It came out of nowhere with a cool plot and plenty of action and made its way onto my Top Ten. Sure, it was mostly things we have seen before, but it was put together perfectly.

8. Drag Me To Hell

"I desire the soul of Christine Brown. We will feast upon it while she festers in the grave!"

Sam Raimi's horror tale slipped by me in the theaters but I managed to catch it on DVD. Creepy and suspenseful, the movie drags you in along with the movie's heroine who soon finds herself in mortal peril because of a gypsy's curse. Hey, we've all had those days! This is old school horror that goes straight for the thrills and chills. Justin Long is along for a little comic relief though, to keep things from getting too heavy.

9. Orphan

"I have a special surprise for you, Mommy!"

This is the story of sweet, innocent Esther, a special child who finds a home with a nice couple and their two kids. Then it's "happily ever after" time, right? Sorry, but no way! When it comes to evil children movies, this one is up there with The Good Son. Things go from bad to worse and that is just the beginning. Things spiral out of control as this demented psycho gives new meaning to the term "homewrecker."

10. The Men Who Stare at Goats

"But really he was dying of a broken heart. And maybe a little bit of cancer."

This was a good movie but it didn't really live up to the expectations I had after seeing the previews. But still a strong comedy. A little heavy on the message and a bit light in the jokes though. And it might be one of those where it moves up the list once I get it on DVD and can watch it a couple more times without my high expectations.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Santa Claus Conquers The Martians

Santa Claus Conquers The Martians... What a great movie! The basic premise is a simple one -- there's something wrong with the way-too-serious kids on Mars and to fix the problem the Martian leaders decide to kidnap Santa Claus to give the Martian children a proper childhood. Of course a couple of Earth kids get caught up in the plot and get taken back to Mars. The martians split into two camps -- those who only want Santa to bring joy to the kids and those who want Santa and the Earth children dead. In the end, well to save the surprise for you, let's just say everyone ends up happy. Cheesy special effects, stumbled-over dialogue, over-the-top acting, a theme song destined to be covered over and over as a punk rock classic and Pia Zadora's first shot at horrendous acting... what more could you want? If I ever do become a famous screenwriter and thus required to sell my soul as I am sure is required by the union, this will be the movie I want to ruin with a remake!

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Sunday, November 15, 2009

You Know That Ghost Is Me...

There are some songs, or more specifically some performances of certain songs, that are just so perfect, it is hard to believe it was created by humans and not by gods. But then some would argue that the Man in Black was, if not a god, certainly at least something more than human.

Johnny Cash was a legend long before I was even born and many would say he burned brightest in the last few years of his life. But when he adds his touch to Gordon Lightfoot's already classic ballad, "If You Could Read My Mind," well... it is nothing short of heaven. His voice, technically speaking, is not what it once was, but if anything it is more powerful and full of heart than ever before.

When I picked up American V: A Hundred Highways, I burned it straight to my Media Player and never actually listened to it. The song popped up in a random shuffle the other night and then spent a couple of hours on repeat. Amazing. Touching. Yes, it almost made me cry. It is that good. I guess I need to get around to the rest of the album now...

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Trust me. I know what I'm doing...

I miss Sledge Hammer! It was a great show. It only lasted two seasons but should have had more. Of course, it's second season was something of a miracle so maybe I should just be thankful for what we did get.

The show starred David Rasche, Anne-Marie Martin and Harrison Page. It was a spoof of cop movies like Dirty Harry. Most importantly, it was funny, funny, funny! (Though I don't recall any fast motion...)

Monday, June 29, 2009

This song rocks...

"The Springs" - A

Air on the streets, lights on the trees
Eight days a week, singer's disease
I wanna be where the sun meets the sky
I wanna be there, it's out of your mind
And I believe in the secrets you're keeping
I wanna piece of the air when I breathe in
I wanna be the gold underneath the stream
Having my moment, you know what I mean

Ooooh, it's a blue sky
And the headlights, and the headlines
It's a new day, for a new wave
It's a perfect moment, oh
I'm moving out, for a moment in The Springs

Out of my way, Berlin to L.A.
I wanna stay here and never go home again
I wanna be the grass underneath your feet
I wanna be the shops on your high street
And I believe in the secrets you're keeping
I wanna be your alarm when you sleep in
I wanna be the one you can be around
I wanna be the one who can make you proud

Ooooh, it's a blue sky
And the headlights, and the headlines
It's a new day, for a new wave
It's a perfect moment, oh
I'm moving out, for a moment in The Springs

Get a voice, don't get a doctor
That's your choice, no-one can stop you
I wanna be the one you can be around
I wanna be the one who can make you proud
Got a job, I don't got no pension
In it for love - money's too tight to mention
I wanna be in the rockin'est city
I wanna do what I want if it kills me
Have to say, your home's where you make it
It's OK, I know when you fake it
I wanna be the gum on your train seat
I wanna stand up and walk on my own feet
I wanna be the one you can be around
I wanna be the rock underneath your ground

I wanna be the one who can make you proud
I wanna be the one you can be around

I wanna be the one you can be around