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The Komondor Kennel

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Beck clears new heights with CD; Sound advice music review

Copyright 1997 Lewiston Morning Tribune
Lewiston Morning Tribune

August 29, 1997
SECTION: Entertainment; Pg. 6C
BYLINE: Judey Nitcy - Lewiston High School

Beck  "Odelay"

The cover art of Beck's second major label album, "Odelay," is a picture of
a komondor, an unusual breed of sheep dog, clearing a hurdle.

I see the dog as symbolizing Beck's music. Even though it tends to be
slightly eccentric, it is endearing at the same time, and it is clearing a
major musical hurdle -- making an album that mixes diverse musical genres
-- with divine results.

A lot of songs on this album are rooted with a folky guitar line, but you
hardly notice with all the other musical elements he adds to his songs. He
starts with a guitar line as a musical base, then adds pop beats, keyboard,
feedback, electronica and whatever else he needs to make a catchy, "stuck
in your head forever" groove. Obscure samples are also used in a lot of
songs. For example, a sample of Mantronix's "Needle to the Groove" is on
the inviting single "Where It's At."

The leadoff song, the irresistible "Devil's Haircut," kicks off with a
bad-boy guitar line and some apocalyptic lyrics: "Something's wrong 'cause
my mind is fading/And everywhere I look there's a dead end waiting."

Although slightly difficult to decode, the lyrics of this song are some of
the most straightforward of the album.

Most of the time, they are written and delivered in an ambiguous fashion.
For example, "Derelict" features Beck's fuzzy vocals and lyrics like
"Shooting venom at the passers-by/I'm hijacking stop the heavens down."

The most brilliant mix of genres, not to mention the catchiest music on the
album, can be found on "High 5 (Rock the Catskills)." Techno-blips, hip-hop
beats, snippets of classical music and guitar and lyrics poking fun at
trends of the past and trendiness in general make for a clever and fun song

And just what in the world is an Odelay, by the way? Well, Odelay is
derived from the Chicano slang word "orale", which according to Beck means
"all right, things are all right."

Well, if he's talking about how good his album is, he's being very, very

Copyright 1995 McClatchy Newspapers Inc.
The Herald (Rock Hill, S.C.)

November 13, 1995 Monday 1ST EDITION
LENGTH: 978 words
BYLINE: By Jennifer Becknell The Herald

SHARON - Joyce Henderson can't seem to go anywhere with her dog, Balki,
without drawing a crowd.

During a trip to Seattle, "we emptied several tourist buses. People don't
believe this is a real dog," Henderson says of her 130-pound canine.

Balki is a Komondor, a rare breed that quickly draws attention because it
looks like a huge, roving mop. Komondors were bred as Hungarian Shepherds,
guarding sheep and other livestock, and are often sought for their fierce
guarding instincts.

The Komondor Club of America, a dog owners organization, reports there are
only seven of the purebred Komondors in South Carolina, and about 1,500
nationwide, said president Lyn Bingham of Seattle. Worldwide, Komondors
number only "several thousand" Bingham said.

The dog attracts attention and lots of questions because of its heavy white
coat, which consists of thick tassels of hair which are called cords, and
look like dreadlocks.

"People ask: 'Where do you put the handle?' He looks like a mop," Henderson
said. "And 'How long does it take you to braid his hair?' And 'Is he real?' "

But perhaps what is even more unusual is what the casual observer can't
see. Though the dog looks like an overgrown teddy bear, Henderson said
that's deceiving. The breed's characteristics include an owner loyalty that
makes it a vigilant guard - a task at which it excels like few other dogs.
Territorial personality Komondors are aggressive dogs which instinctively
guard their territory and owners at all times. Though that quality can be
valuable, it also means they can't be treated just like ordinary house dogs.

"We must always be very aware of where we are, and what is around us,
because he is a guard dog," said Henderson, 47, a legal secretary.

For example, Henderson always "introduces" any visitors to her dog before
they enter her rural Sharon home, so he will treat them as friends.

Balki - who measures about 9 feet from toenail to toenail - lives inside
the Henderson home, and a "Beware of the Dog" sign is posted on the front
door to warn the unaware. When he does go outside with Henderson, Balki is
kept on a leash, and dog and owner have taken obedience training.

The dogs guard by staying in between whatever they are guarding and an
intruder; Henderson says Balki won't let other people get between them.

Although the dogs can bite, they actually attack intruders by "boxing" them
with their huge paws. Henderson saw this technique in action a year ago,
when someone tried to steal her car in a Gastonia, N.C., parking lot.

She said she went into a store and left Balki in the car, then returned and
began to open the car. "Someone came up behind me and knocked me down," she

Balki, sitting low down in the back, "came between the seats and knocked
the person out of the car. He knocked him down and stood over him until I
called him off." Canine rarity

Henderson said she had first seen a Komondor at a dog show in 1978, and was
very interested in the breed then. She didn't acquire Balki, however, until
about two years ago, after her home was broken into.

She told her husband, Harry, "I'm not going to live like this. Get me a dog."

What followed was a search for a Komondor through the Komondor Club of
America, which keeps a registry of owners and helps to place dogs that need
homes. She obtained Balki from a Texas couple who were divorcing and wanted
to find a home for their dog.

The dogs aren't easy to find because of their small numbers. The breed was
almost wiped out during World War II, when they were used to guard Allied
troops. Bingham said the dogs usually sell for $ 600 to $ 800, though
Henderson said she heard of one sold in Japan for $ 20,000.

But Komondors aren't an ideal pet for just any dog owner, either. Grooming
and maintaining a Komondor is an extremely time-consuming process.

Henderson bathes her dog by soaking him in a tub, then squeezing the water
out of his cords. She grooms him by separating the cords by hand. Even so,
his coat takes almost a week to dry, she said.

Though the Komondor looks like a shedding nightmare, Henderson said that's
actually not a big problem. "When he sheds, he loses a whole cord," she
says of the dog's ropelike appendages.

The corded coat, which eventually grows to the ground if it isn't cut, is
actually part of the dog's inbred protection. If a wolf tried to attack a
Komondor, for example, it would just get a mouthful of cord.

Because the dog has an aggressive nature, Henderson said it is important to
"socialize" the animal to being around other people. She has taken her dog
to day care centers to educate children about the breed.

Yet the dog has a gentle side, too. Henderson trusts him with her
3-year-old granddaughter, and feeds him dog treats from her hands.

"As aggressive as he is," she says, "he has the most gentle bite of any dog
I've ever seen."

Komondor Raised to guard sheep and other livestock on the Hungarian plains.
The average adult males measure about 30 inches tall at the shoulder and
weighs about 150 pounds; females stand about 28 inches tall and weigh about
100 pounds. Appearance: Covered with a heavy white coat that falls to the
ground in cords. The coat gives the animal protection from harsh weather,
as well as from predators.

Breed characteristics: These animals make excellent guards dogs because of
their aggressive territorial instincts. They guard by staying between their
owner and an intruder, and attack by "boxing" with their large front paws.
The dogs are also popular as pets.

Numbers:There are about 1,500 purebred Komondors in the United States, and
several thousand worldwide, according to the Komondor Club of America.

Cost: Usually ranges from $ 600 to $ 800, although some dogs may sell for
more or less.

Source: Komondor Club of America, World Book Encyclopedia


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