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From the coast of Maine comes the deep-sea version of Manbearpig, the Porbeagle!

Also, divers taking pictures of salmon poop.

We are doomed.

I see where today is the anniversary of the birth, in 1903, of Evelyn Waugh, perhaps Ol’ Robbo’s very favorite writer of fiction these days.

At the moment, I happen to be rounding (again) into the third book of his Sword of Honour trilogy, The End of the Battle.  I find myself musing idly this time around on the plausibility of Guy Crouchback ever having been married to Virginia Troy in the first place, and wondering whether this is another reference to Mr. Wu’s own failed first marriage to the She-Evelyn (the other one I know of being Tony and Brenda Last in A Handful of Dust).  After TEOTB, I’ve still got Put Out More Flags, The Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold and Brideshead to tackle in order to complete the canon.

As I mentioned over at Jordana’s place, I have also ordered up Waugh’s biography of Edmund Campion, which will be a new book for me.  I’d also like to get his biography of Ronald Knox.  On the other hand, I have yet to summon up the energy to tackle his Helena, of which I have heard some not very flattering reviews.


I saw a gal handing out “free eco-masks” at the metro this morning, cardboard blobs covered with green leaf designs.

Don’t really know what the point was supposed to be.  Is Mother Gaia now co-opting Halloween, or was the idea maybe that we could all pretend we were dressed up as Birnham Wood?

I am His Majesty’s dog at Kew;

Pray, tell me, sir,

Whose dog are you? ¹

Regular port-swillers may recall some time back my mention of a little literary contest the Mothe was putting together to spike challenge her book club.  Well, wake the kids and phone the neighbors (and perhaps linky on your own blogs?), because…….I’ve got it!

The quiz is very simple.  Below is a list of the names of twenty-five dogs associated in one way or another with literature.  (The original list – which I helped in small part to put together – actually was twenty.  In my enthusiasm, I’ve tacked on an additional five.)  The challenge is to match them with their owners. ²  That’s all there is to it.

Here is the list:

1. Ponto

2. Krak

3. Pilot

4. The White Boys ³

5. Bartholomew

6.  Pug

7.  Man Ray, Fay Ray and Chundo

8.  Blondi

9.  Sandy

10.  Muggs

11.  Jack the Bulldog

12. Fala

13.  Blanche, Trey and Sweetheart

14.  Laska

15.  Keeper

16.  “…the nicest little black bitch of a pointer….”

17.  Grasper

18.  the pet [or little] dog (a Pomeranian)

19.  Checkers

20.  Moretto (a bulldog) and Lyon (a Newfoundland)

21.  Tricki Woo

22.  Freda

23.  Tigger

24.  Reilly

25.  McIntosh

Here’s what’s let’s do:  If you want to have a go at identifying the owners, shoot your submission(s) to me at  In the memo line, put “Fido’s Quest.”  While you should feel free to leave general comments or queries here, don’t give away answers, as it will spoil things for everyone else.  I will then tabulate all submissions received as of 12:00 PM Eastern Time on Friday, November 5 and announce the winners.  I also will post the answer key, of course.  Winners will receive…..oh, I don’t know.  We’ll think of something.

You are all on your honor not to do any sneaky googling to come up with the answers.  (Of course, I can’t enforce this rule, but I will remind you that God is watching and He will know if you violate it.)  Remember, this is emphatically not a general doggy knowledge quiz.  It is a highly arbitrary and eccentric one.  Some of the references ought to be quite easy, but some of them are quite idiosyncratic.  So feel free to take a plunge, even if you only know a few.  Anyone who presents anything close to a perfect score will be looked on with deep, deep suspicion.

Oh, one other thing:  We have specific animals in mind.  In the event you identify another dog with the same name belonging to someone else, I will award you partial credit for the answer.

In her covering note sending this along, the Mothe says, “Probably not suitable for publication – at least I wouldn’t want to meet anyone who could get 20 out of 20.  Too weird, by half.”

Well, all I can say is that despite my carefully-crafted veneer of stuffiness, most of you know by now that underneath there is no such thing as “too weird” when we’re sitting here over the port and Stilton.  So go to it and good luck!

¹  Supposedly engraved on a collar presented to King Charles II for one of his many pet spaniels.  Attributed to James Wilmot, Earl of Rochester, but I am unable to document it.  Extra points for authentication.

²    I can tell you that nine of the owners were real people.  Full credit will be awarded for simply identifying them.  For the remaining fictional characters, I will need the name of the character, the book or story and the identity of the author in order to award full credit.  Partial answers will receive partial credit.

³  Extra points for identifying the allusion.

(Scottie image lifted from Tricky Tykes.  I’ll take it down if they want, but if it makes any difference, I grew up with a Scottie named Fergus and the breed has always had sentimental associations for me.  He was a right bastard, but he was a good friend.)


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October 2010