Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Visions of Burgers Danced in their Heads

It must be the heat. Folks are wandering around Dog Park like zombies, their arms flopped at their sides, their eyes dull, their mouths slackjawed and drooling. They say in strangled voices, "Burger. Must have burger." There's an element of desperation --or deprivation--about the resulting conversations, as if folks have forgotten that, unlike their dogs, they have car keys and wallets and can go purchase a hamburger and eat it undisturbed. They're like characters in a New Yorker cartoon, castaways stuck on a tiny island with one palm tree and a winning lottery ticket: "Oh, the cruelty of fate!" 

I participate in the burger conversations as a matter of course, although I have not eaten one in nearly fifteen years. (I prefer not to eat mammals. Anything that sports big brown eyes while alive just doesn't sit right on my plate. Now, some of you will insist that the rumors disseminated by the pork industry are true—that bacon comes from pigs. Don't be silly. Everyone knows it comes from the Yellow-chested Bacon Bird.) In any event, here are the suggestions made during a Thursday night DP gab-fest about the places in town with the best burgers, in no particular order: 
  • Huts, 
  • Phil's
  • Five Guys, 
  • P. Terry's, 
  • Counter Cafe (anointed by Texas Monthly as purveyor of the 2nd-best burger in Texas) 

Places that were roundly razzed by Parkers include Sonic and Hilberts. (Caveat: Folks agree that although the food sucks at Sonic, somehow it goes down all too easily with an icy cherry limeade.) 

If you beg to differ with this admittedly imperfect best-burger poll, you may post your opinions in a comment or in an e-mail to In the meantime, you all can ponder the best local beers as well, which was the topic of  berm-side conversation on Saturday night. Bon appetit!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

In Defense of the Nap

A word or two before I leap back into the world of employment: Don't Knock Naps. A recent New York Times article pretty much describes naps as the refuge of the depressed, the unemployed, and the elderly and unwell. Oh, and the obese. Hmmph. As of today, I'm none of those things. I'm not ashamed: My name is Zia, and I'm a regular napper, in good times and bad. I refuse to be judged on my nap habits simply because of some silly research. 

I happen to think that naps are essential to quality of life. Austin summer days are way too long and too hot. What's wrong with an afternoon siesta as long as the dogs get fed and the bills get paid? For one thing, naps are free. Many people I know claim they don't dream or, if they do, that they don't remember their dreams. Mine are usually quite vivid and entertaining. A short nap is like going to a technicolor matinee. In my dreams, I fly, chase, ponder the end of the universe, or fret about my dogs, the test I didn't study for, my rotten teeth. Then I wake up and take those dogs for yet another walk. Boring? Yes, but at least I'm in a better mood after my snooze. (See? Everybody benefits!)

On this issue, I prefer to let the dogs take the lead. What are your dogs doing right this very second? (Go ahead, take a look. They're right under your feet.) They might be idly scratching an ear or stalking a squirrel or barking at the mailman or chewing on your shoes, but most likely they are stretched out snoring. What a life. Nap, eat, walk, poop, nap some more.  But, I ask you, what's the problem? The people who scoff that life is short and that they'll sleep when they're dead are really not as much fun as they think they are. I say, lie down with dogs, get up with a better attitude. Ta!

Monday, August 3, 2009

The Dog Parkist: Breeding, Schmeeding

Q: Often, people stop me at Dog Park to ask what breed my dog is. The fact is that I don't know. She's a mix of several, obviously, but I have no way of knowing which. People like to speculate, and I'm fine with that, I guess. My question is, why do people care? My dog is happy, healthy, and playful. That's enough for me. Why isn't it enough for other folks?
—Well Bred Enough

A: It is interesting, isn't it, that the people most concerned with good breeding seem to lack good manners. You have my sympathy, my dear WBE. I am sure that you are a lovely person and your dog is a lovely creature, mongrels though you both are. You are satisfied with the sheer privilege of drawing breath and walking the earth without a care about your place in the social structure. And why not? Life is complicated enough without knowing for certain who one's Daddy is and what he did or made for a living. 

The thing is, my dear, that human beings like to make classifications. They can't help it. It's hard-wired into their precious DNA. Human beings rose up from the dust a gazillion years ago with the brain power to sort the fresh meat from the spoiled, the enemy with a rock from the friend with a hewn tool, and the good grain from the chaff. Unfortunately, in modern times, the importance of  that type of sorting is now somewhat muted by the inventions of refrigeration and Facebook. Now we collect and sort stamps, flowers, baseball cards, glass baubles, and t-shirts adorned with beer logos or obnoxious sayings. Yet, some humans are not satisfied by the mere shuffling of things. They still want to exercise the part of the brain that sorts people and animals into categories that they consider meaningful, such as purebred and mutt. 

For some reason, the Dog Parkist has been, throughout her years in Texas, subjected to such scrutiny herself. She often meets people, strangers, who want to know where she is from or where her ancestors were born. Good heavens, she thinks: On planet Earth. Does it matter that her people are small, cranky, hard-drinking, tight-fisted northern Europeans who fled horrid economic conditions and settled in New Jersey in previous centuries? She's her own person with her own experiences, just, my dear, as your pet is his or her own dog. And any dog owner who has rescued a stray from the shelter or the street will tell you that mutts have mixed DNA on their side. Simply tell those who ask that your pooch is the best breed of all—your own dog, and keep walking, dear. Always keep walking. 

Dear Readers: I have only just learned that the writer of this blog has finally obtained legal means of employment. Will wonders never cease! As a result, the Dog Parkist also has learned, posts will be fewer in number and duration. Indeed! Don't despair, dearies. You have the Dog Parkist's permission to click on past posts for refresher courses in proper Dog Park conduct. Ta!