Eugenie, Tanner and I were in Santa Barbara this past February, when we met a lovely woman named Jo Hartman, who volunteers at the Central Coast SPCA. Here’s a link to a story in the Santa Maria Times about her and her  late rescue St. Bernard, Dover. Her work with him goes to show how love and patience can change a throw-away dog into a life saver. Way to go, Jo.

Jo Hartman and ‘Dover’


Last year Tanner proved to be a wiz at handicapping the Oscars; albeit his method was sketchy, he tabbed the Best Picture and Best Supporting Actor nods, along with a slew of other winners. Given his track record, Eugenie and I decided to let him offer his thoughts on this year’s races.

Tanner & Lou on State Street, Santa Barbara, 2/18/13

In the Best Picture category, we didn’t see three of the nominees – Beasts of The Southern Wild, Django Unchained and Life of Pi (Lou’s fault since Eugenie and I were bugging him to get the screeners).  Of the other six, Les Miz was overly long with uneven singing and a plot that jumps from a riveting ‘A’ story (Jean Valjean v Javert) to sappy, with the love at first sight between Marius (a rich frat boy slumming as a revolutionary) and Cosette. It’s a bit of a downer, but nothing compared to Amour, which made me want to run into traffic (Remember, I’m a dog and seppuku isn’t an option). We all found it sheer torture and it left us wondering how in the heck these two snooze fests get nominated when the bubbly, brilliant Intouchables came away with bubkes. But I digress. 

Lincoln was well done, with great acting boosting what is basically a lengthy documentary. Our friend, Joe Simone, rightly said it should have ended 15 minutes earlier, before the assassination, while David P, a director pal, said it l was shot with all those profiles so we would marvel at Daniel Day Lewis’s resemblance to Abe. Zero Dark Thirty (much like Hurt Locker, the 2009 winner) features a documentary story with a frosty protagonist that’s hard to warm up to. Her growth during the picture is nil. That leaves us with Silver Linings Playbook and Argo. Mom loved the former, second only to Intouchables in her year’s best. Dad said the first 30 minutes were a bit muddled but, after that, it was quite good. We all agree that Jennifer Lawrence is amazing, perhaps a new Meryl Streep in the making, and that she will take Best Actress. Eugenie liked Argo while dad liked it much better; then again, he’s a political type. It’s a tough call but I’m rolling with mom on this one. 

In the acting categories, it’s Daniel Day Lewis for Lincoln, Jennifer Lawrence in Silver Linings, Philip Seymour Hoffman for The Master (no, I didn’t see that one either and probably never will because, with the exception of Boogie Nights, Lou doesn’t care for the director’s work). Finally, the under-rated David O. Russell upsets Steven Spielberg for Best Director. Overall, last year’s movies were far superior, not coincidentally, because they featured canine stars.
Porter update: Although he’s still fighting an infection and some post-op soreness, the tough little puppy is doing much better.

A ‘SIDEWAYS’ VALENTINE (aka Tanner’s Birthday Blues)

We were desperate for a Valentines getaway but February 14 is  also Tanner’s birthday, and we didn’t want to leave him behind.  Nobody actually knows when he was born, a fact that drives my astrology-minded wife crazy, so we decided to celebrate our Pit Bull baby on Valentines Day, the same as his pop.  We discussed Palm Springs and San Diego but finally opted for Santa Barbara.   Finding a place that accepts dogs isn’t easy.  Most hotels and motels don’t and many of the ones that do charge a hefty fee.  Why?  For the same reason Tanner chews his tail, because they can.

If you’re new to our saga, Tanner’s not fond of the car.  Seriously.  He used to barf every time he rode in it, even if we were only going down the block. We’ve made real progress since but long trips are still iffy.  We stopped along the way so I could join him in the back seat for ‘encouragement’ but we made it to Santa Barbara without incident.  After a taco run to La Super Rica, we dumped our bags at the State Street Motel 6, and took off for Solvang,  and the wine country made famous (infamous if you ask the locals) by Alexander Payne’s movie, “Sideways”.   
It’s not the Amalfi Drive (forget Tanner, even Eugenie can’t ride there) but the San Marcos Pass (Rte 154) is a scenic, winding road that passes by picturesque Lake Cachuma.  Tanner wasn’t happy but he closed his eyes and hung tough. 

Solvang’s a quaint (cheesy?) Danish village that’s also super dog friendly.  Once a year, in late February, they host a Greyhound Fest in which town opens its doors to a swarm of sweet, speedy rescue dogs.  We spent the afternoon shopping (the pet store and the Sock Guy got the bulk of our coin), then we took the birthday boy out to diner at Root 246, one of our favorites.  The three of us ate outdoors, on the patio by the fire pit.  Then we made the harrowing drive back. 

By the time we reached our room, Tanner was toast.  He ignored his food and water and hunkered down in his bed while we watched the Westminster Dog Show

a tradition from our New York City period when we owned a wonderful Irish Setter and the Dalmation from Hell.  Ironically, both breeds were represented in this year’s Best In Show round.  Tanner’s an American Staffordshire Terrier so we were  hoping the AmStaff might win the Terrier Group but no dice.  Maybe next year.  Tanner was torn.  The finalists included a German Shepherd, like Tanner’s girlfriend Lola, and a sexy Doberman named Fifi.  Eugenie and weren’t; we were rooting for the Irish Setter ‘momma’ that had recently given birth to 15 puppies.  

The following day, we hung around SB until after lunch.  Then we chauffeured Tanner home to Malibu.    The poor dog was fried and didn’t budge until his nighttime walk.  He’s grown very attached to us and wants to be with us everywhere we go.  If only we never left home, life would be perfect for him.