Animal magnetism 

Foxy George Faughnan stole the show ... and my heart

Pickins be slim for entertainment writers around this time of year. If you listen carefully, you can hear the sound of barrel bottoms being scraped. One way you can tell is that I've broken my rule about not covering the same place two weeks in row (see Dad's Garage item below). Another way you can tell is that the AJC's Peach Buzz ran a story about Donald Trump Jr. getting hit in the head with a beer stein at that trendy night spot on Atlanta's north side commonly known as New York City. If you listen carefully again, you might hear the sound of CL readers saying, "Donald Trump Jr.?"

I spoke with See & Do editor Jerry Portwood last week, and he warned me that pickings may get slimmer for a couple of weeks before they start fattenin' up again. So if my columns start including stuff like, "Man, that Renee Zellweger sure can dance!" or if Peach Buzz includes "Howie Mandel Jr. gets Lasik surgery," you'll know why.

Lots of bitches: Having a dog helps you meet nice people. Perhaps it's the dog's way of repaying you for getting mud everywhere, or for making you miss your newspaper deadline twice in the past two weeks by vomiting on the floor next to your desk while you're writing. Atlanta's eleven50 of dog-centric social spots is undoubtedly the enormous, fenced-in Dog Park at Piedmont Park. I've been hearing about it for ages, so I finally decided to take my dog there last Saturday to see what all the fuss is about.

The first thing I noticed about the dog park was its special double gate. Having to pass through two doors to enter or exit means that sneaky, ill-behaved dogs like mine have less of a chance to sneak out. And like I said above, the place is big -- so spacious that about half of it sat empty as the dogs concentrated their play in the half of the park where the people stood. Pack animals!

Acceptable dog behavior at the dog park includes: running, barking, wrestling, sniffing, fetching and defecating (please clean up though).

Despite Piedmont Park's reputation (see several of Cliff Bostock's columns from last fall), the big behavioral no-no appears to be humping. Three times that afternoon I saw dogs getting jiggy, and all three times a human jumped in and coitus-interruptused them. You haven't seen disappointment until you've seen a frisky Schnauzer having the Great Dane of her dreams pulled off her back.

The people were just as social as the dogs, albeit with less ass sniffing. The humans were in fact much louder than the dogs most of the time. The strangest conversation I overheard was about the relative merits of buying a custom-made wheelchair rather than getting one off the shelf. Apparently there's some guy OTP who makes good ones.

Martha "Cashews" Graham: Last Friday evening, the Atlanta Ballet performed a PG-13ish parody of the The Nutcracker called The Nutty Nutcracker. I've never actually seen the original Nutcracker, but the ballet left in a lot of the original scenes -- such as the shark attack and the Annie Hall-like bit where you can hear the characters' thoughts being spoken aloud. But because it was a joke, they did add Batman and Robin, a Starbucks clerk, a pizza delivery to an audience member, and other new bits. The most dramatic change was the addition of music by Tchaikovsky. Only a small portion of the ballet's original Calypso score remained. The show was definitely a real audience-pleaser. On the way out, I heard one man say, in a Thurston Howell III-like accent, "I have got to find out if anyone in Chicago does anything like this."

I know I was there last week, but: It was really hard to find a fourth event to cover, so I went to Dad's Garage again for TheatreSports improv. After all, it's improv, so it's different each time, right? The best skit of the night -- one whose format I've never seen before -- was the slide show. One performer narrates while the rest act out scenes as the lights turn on and off like a slide show. This one took place on the moon. To me, DG regular George Faughnan stole the show as a Rastafarian smoking pot on the moon. He didn't say a word, but instead conveyed everything with a single demented facial expression. I have a serious comedy man crush on him.

Animalistic: Zoo Atlanta had a 2-for-1 admission special running over the weekend, so I went. Some people bitch about zoos being cruel to animals, but after last weekend, I'm more inclined than ever to side with pro-zoo people who say that zoos are educational.

On Sunday, I learned that a black rhino's penis points backward and it sprays urine like a garden hose with the nozzle set on mist. I learned that the sign near the pandas telling people to "Keep Voices Low" does not mean you're supposed to speak with a baritone. I learned that, judging from the winners of the children's reptile-drawing contest, children can't draw reptiles well until they're at least 9 (the kids -- not the reptiles). I learned that there's a woman who gets vocally disappointed with the zoo's orangutans for not answering when her daughter tries to speak to them in sign language.

Finally, I learned that the cage in which the Egyptian Uromastyx lizard lives is decorated with camouflage, tanks and warplanes because Egypt is supposedly war-torn. Never mind that Egypt hasn't fought a war in 30 years. If you're gonna do stuff like that, at least be consistent. How about putting Wal-Mart replicas in the cages of all the North American animals?



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