Elwood H. Smith
July 2006
HOG DOG: A True Story
Sophie's Stick

ast Wednesday, Maggie and I were awakened to the sound of a dog vomiting. Not the neighbor's dog tossing his cookies into a rhododendron bed. Nope, the bed was ours and it was Sophie The Wonder Dog losing her dinner right there at our feet. Okay, no big deal. Like a short, squat, hairy maid, she probably sneaked up to the cat litter box in the attic and helpfully cleaned out the solid matter. We cleaned up the vomit, replaced the sheets & covers and went back to our dreams. Alack, she threw up the next night. And the next day and the next night. Bad news. Off to the vet. No lost objects appeared in the subsequent x-rays, but Sophie became increasingly listless and disinterested in her dinner. NOT our Sophie, I'll tell you.

The vet prescribed an antivomiting medication and another drug to sooth her stomach lining. That helped and Sophie began returning to her normal self, becoming interested in food and finally exorcising her clogged-up bowels. Like some kind of canine pervert, I stood this morning in the yard squinting at Sophie's asshole, my trusty poop bag in hand. As a couple of knobby turds sprung loose, I caught a glimpse of what looked like a small stick protruding from her anus. I grabbed the tip of the twig and pulled gently. HOLY MOLY, CAPTAIN MARVEL! Sophie had swallowed a 6 1/2 inch stick--probably a dried twig from one of our indoor plants.

Though I'm sure other Drawgerites have even more amazing Hog Dog stories to tell (and I hope you will), I am in awe that Sophie managed to swallow that rigid twig without puncturing her throat, her gut or her intestines as it traveled from mouth to anus. She is one lucky dog, that's for sure. Maggie oft tells the story of her Scottish terrier, Jenny, ingesting an entire corncob and of her American Staffordshire terrier, Mugsy, devouring the better part of a sofa and an entire coconut, outer husk and all, so I know Sophie's feat is small potatoes. Still, I was pretty impressed this morning as that stick kept sliding out, like a long rigid, bulimic earthworm on a rainy day.

Okay, your turn. Let's hear your tales of canine gluttony.
Sophie with Luigi & Maggie
Grumpy Lou directs the Vocal Range Rabbits

Due to popular demand for some Polecat tunes (1 demand: Zimm) I've decided to start a E.S. Music category.

I don't have any digitized versions of music by The Polecats and we never got around to creating an album, but I'll try to transfer some of our rehearsals from tape to my computer. If they are worth a damn, I'll post a couple of songs. Happily, I CAN post a tune sung by the core of the Polecats.

The song comes from a musical Maggie and I created some years back, "Grumpy Lou & His Kazoo". I wrote the songs and, later on, Maggie created the "book" for the live production that we did locally at the Rhinebeck Center For Performing Arts. It was not a common garden variety musical. Partly because I don't have the skills to create one, but it was also an opportunity to try something different. We projected about 600 slides from 4 carousels (it'd all be done digitally today) cropped from some 200 drawings I'd created, during which, the marvelous J.T. Carlisle read the story with gusto. The band wove the songs in and out of J.T.s reading following cues given by our esteemed musical director & keyboardist, Mark Vian. Our dear friend (master carpenter, actor & writer), Mike West, directed "Grumpy Lou" and showed up nearly every Sunday for months before our show date to help us put the complex slide show together. He also enlisted his talented wife, Deborah, as our female singer in the live production. It was true community theater and for all involved, it was a labor of love. Neither Maggie nor I had ever done anything like this and it was an amazing, creative, scary, joyous, sharing experience. The show ran for a three-day weekend and with sold-out performances. We were asked to do it again a month later. How could we not?

About the recording: The studio band featured Polecats Steve Bartles on lead & harmony vocal & bass; Russ Bonk on lead & that nice, deep bass harmony vocal; Charles Prosser, harmony vocal & drums, Tim Hoolihan, harmony vocals & guitar and guest vocalist, Cathy Curtis. John Platania played lead electric guitar, rhythm acoustic guitar and acted as musical director. I played rhythm guitar and mandolin.

The story, written by Maggie Pickard, tells the tale of Grumpy Lou (real name, Ludwig McTiffle), a cantankerous feller who rides the range with his trusty horse, Buster, and tends his herd of talented Vocal Range Rabbits. Two ornery rascals, Peadog and Jellybone, finally manage to rustle the Range Rabbits and head for the hills to brainwash their hostages. Lou enlists Captain Condor, who has a fear of flying, to help him in his search. Here's some dialog when Lou first meets the Captain.



    "Captain Condor at the ready! May I inquire, Sir, which of my many stunning military stratagems you require?"


    "Raptor's peepers is supposed ta do a bang-up job a' spottin stuff. How's about flyin' over yonder ta see what ya kin see?"


    "Flying?!!! No one said a word about flying!"


They encounter the Numbskulls, a "Slime bellied tricycle gang" with "rapacious murder in their flinty hearts" but manage, through the magic of music, to change the gang into a bunch of softies. Later on, Captain Condor meets and falls madly in love with Sylvia Snake. I may post their Bluegrassy love song later on. I may also share the song "Bad, Bad, Bunny Blues", sung by Peadog & Jellybone while brainwashing the helpless Range Rabbits.

I wrote "Doggone It, Now You Did It" to show the Numbskulls' miraculous change of heart. The song is in Western Swing style and John plays delicious breaks on his vintage Stratocaster. The Polecats handle the Western Swing style of singing admirably. Hope you enjoy.
Songs & Art Copyright 2006 Elwood H. Smith

Click here for the song, "Doggone It, Now You Did It"
Peadog & Jellybone
Okay, here's the Bad, Bad Bunny Blues as promised. Thing is, I'd forgotten that I sing on it and that's never a pretty picture. Steve Bartles plays bass and sings the part of Jellybone and, for reasons lost to the decades (and the beer, chips & spicy bean dip being devoured in the recording studio), I took over the roll of the dastardly Peadog. Seems to me, upon a current listening, that I'm overacting--trying to make the character mean and, in the process, becoming nearly unintelligible at times. Should have gotten John to sing the part, but what's done is done.

Click Here For "Bad, Bad Bunny Blues"

Of course, that's John Platania playing those sweet & low-down bad dog blues licks.
Captain Condor & Sylvia Snake

Some more art from Grumpy Lou & His Kazoo
The savage Numbskulls attack!
Peadog, Jellybone, Grumpy, Captain Condor & Sylvia
Mad Dog & Buster
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