You might think he's doing something else. But in reality, he's learning how to sit/stay, and not doing a very good job of it (he eventually learned how to do so beautifully ... sort of ).

martedì 12 aprile 2011

You're talkin' a lot, but you're not saying anything

On this day in 1808, Antonio Meucci was born in Florence (on via dei Serragli, 44). Apparently he might have invented the telephone. His was an interesting and colorful life – he worked briefly at Teatro della Pergola (in Florence), lived in Cuba, and eventually settled on Staten Island. According to, “Meucci set up a form of voice communication link in his Staten Island home that connected his second floor bedroom to his laboratory.” His failure to renew the patent led to Alexander Graham Bell’s acquiring said a few years later.

How nice, and how appropriate, that an Italian possibly invented the telephone. When riding commuter trains, we can blow a kiss to the Goddess, and thank her for all those obnoxious Italians nattering away on their cell phones (yesterday, a young woman got on the train at Pisa and continued her long, boring conversation with probably an equally boring friend all the way to Florence; we were a captive audience; I wanted to strangle her).

The most civilized Amtrak has silent cars. You pay extra for it, but it’s more than worth it.

We have six dogs who like to bark. This is our aural equivalent of chatty Eyetals on their cell phones. It is, perhaps, more obnoxious. Theoretically, one could ask nattering Italian to lower his/her voice. And yes, in theory, one could ask one’s dogs to stop barking.

“Lulu! Please stop barking,” we plead.

Lulu, oblivious, continues to bark. (She’s outside, barking, as I write. Our neighbors must love us; of course, we have a neighbor who’s not very nice, so when the dogs bark, I sometimes inwardly glow.)

Tillie never barked. She only barked at the mailman, which is appropriate, since dogs and mailpeople have a natural antipathy toward one another.

Waldo yapped. And he yapped at everything. Lulu did not bark until Waldo taught her how to.

Harry’s latest fun trick is to bark at the Puppers while they are crated. He stands in front of the crate and eggs them on. They, being young and impressionable, rise to his bait, and join the chorus. It’s quite the din.

You might wonder why we crate these puppers. Four words will do: They are canine terrorists. They also are only sort of getting housebreaking. They are often outside for long stretches of time. Re-entry requires -- nay, it’s mandatory – to eliminate immediately upon said.

For any of you who has housebroken a puppy, multiply our load (bad pun absolutely intended) by three. Myrtle, cousin to the pups and puppers, is a puppy herself (and somewhat obstinate, according to reports). She’s just recently – according to my sister – really broken through the wall and is no longer peeing on the bed. My mother’s alleged bichon, now 11, has never really gotten it.

This is admirable (Myrtle). That is appalling (Peter).

Googled “how long it takes to housetrain a puppy” and saw 16,200,000 hits. Apparently this is a great preoccupation for many of us. has these words of (non)comforting advice: “The amount of time it takes to housetrain your puppy is primarily dependent upon you. Do it right and it should not take long at all – perhaps just a few weeks [italics mine].”


I wonder how long we’re going to have to navigate our apartment wearing flip flops. Pity: terracotta floors feel so nice under (bare)feet when the weather begins to warm.

Lulu barks, and Harry has joined the fray.

Why has no one invented canine cell phones?


"Psycho Killer, from Talking Heads 77: "You start a conversation you can't even finish it./You're talking a lot, but you're not saying anything./When I have something to say, my lips are sealed./Say something once, why say it again." Lyrics D. Byrne, C. Frantz, T. Weymouth.

Curious about Staten Island, I googled “Famous People who have lived on Staten Island.” This led, of course, to Wikipedia, which lists 18 different categories. “Notorious” – number 12 – included Paul Castellano, Jeb Stuart Magruder, and, most importantly, Sammy “the Bull” Gravano who penned a most readable autobiography with the help of Peter Maas in 1996. According to Wikipedia, Mr. Gravano served as a mess hall cook while doing a stint in the U.S. Army in 1964. Le specialità dello chef? One shudders to think.

7 commenti:

  1. Garibaldi lived on Staten Island. And according to Wikipedia, was employed by Meucci. But I'd doublecheck that!

  2. Thank you, Frau Doktor von Spritz!

  3. What a howl this was, P.! Your canine brood sounds so charming, so lively, so full of personality. To say they seem human might be doing them a disservice.

  4. E - I believe the only time they are charming is when they are asleep. Today Buster will again be "socialized" at the bar. He behaved really, really badly yesterday, so we're going back for more.

  5. Of course, when I said "charming" I meant in a Marquis-de-Sade-sort-of-way.

  6. E - your definition of charming defines these monsters in the most appropriate way.

  7. This from dear Italianista chum in Missouri:

    "My favorite (and good use) of a cell phone on trains in Italy was reported to me by a friend in Rome. As the train approached Termini, a young-ish man made a call and said “Mamma! Siamo in arrivo a Termini….butta la pasta!” (not totally sure about the “siamo in arrivo”…my grammar is utter codswollop…)"

    For those of you who don't know Italian, do know that the young man was telling his mother that his train was pulling into the Rome train station, and that she could throw the pasta in. Another brilliant ex. of mammismo, unique in this country. Roughly, it translates to "mamma's boy" but it actually refers to an Italian mother's slavish devotion to her son. It's pretty disgusting, actually.

    (And "siamo in arrivo" is 100% grammatically correct.)