Pop Culture Gadabout
Wednesday, February 15, 2006
      ( 2/15/2006 09:48:00 AM ) Bill S.  

"SOMETIMES DOGS DO WHAT THEY DO!" – Can't avoid the Spirit of Competition these days: we may've kept away from the winter Olympics, but we couldn't resist watching this year's Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on U.S.A. again. The event is one that wife Becky loves, and while I've long held that the key to a good companion animal is hybrid vigor (seems more American, somehow), I still have a good time watching the various breeds strut before the cameras – provided the animal looks like an actual dog and not a piece of topiary, of course. Also like viewing some of the woman handlers walking their dogs, but perhaps I shouldn't be admitting that . . .

We've been watching this event for years, but this has to be the first time I remember actively getting annoyed at the on-air personalities. Granted, the dog show broadcasts have always had their share of dunderheaded on-air commentators – for years, sportscaster Joe Garagiola was a fixture on the show's teevee broadcasts and was so lunkheadedly wrong that even Fred Willard had difficulty surpassing his doltishness in Christopher Guest’s Best of Show – but at least they had enough of an arsenal to keep the patter varied. Current dog show announcer and show judge David Frei may've had one small moment of Hollywood glory, appearing in an episode of Sex And the City (a fact that was repeated more than we needed to hear), but his standard fall-back patter is to remind viewers that if they are smitten by any particular breed than they see to research that breed to make sure it right for 'em. A good point, to be sure, but he made it at least once within every group judging. The less said about his vacuous co-host, former Miss America and presentday vet Debbye Turner, the better.

Of course, the big reason for watching this event is the dawgs – and hoping that a breed which especially appeals to you becomes Best of Show. I admit it: I'm biased against the little shit dogs that primarily comprise the Toy Group, but at least the pug they chose this year didn't look like you could flick him off the judging table with your forefinger. I favored Maggie, the Scottish Deerhound from the Hound Group, while Becky was rooting for a striking Golden Retriever from Sporting. They all lost out to Rufus, a personable Colored Bull Terrier, but, unlike some years, we really couldn't argue too strongly against the choice because he really was a spiffy looking and behaving Terrier. At least the year's Best of Show wasn't some damn standard poodle . . .

Saw a lotta ads for upcoming dog movies, of course, the most notable being the Tim Allen remake of Disney's The Shaggy Dog, the second such remake for this durable property. I recall standing in line outside the now defunct Rockville Cinema (in Rockville, CT.) the year the original was released. It's one of those kids' flicks that I still remember fondly, so I've gotta state here and now for the record: Tim Allen is no Tommy Kirk . . .
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Pop cultural criticism - plus the occasional egocentric socio/political commentary by Bill Sherman (popculturegadabout AT yahoo.com).

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