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SHORT STORIES

May 11, 1986|PATT MORRISON

The Beagle Chill Maybe you ain't nothing but a pound dog, but you can still have immortal longings in you. At Canine Cryo- bank, a doggie sperm bank in West Los Angeles, your pedigreed Phydeaux or plain Fido can go on forever. Carol Bardwick founded her service five years ago as an alternative to the risky practice of sending costly show dogs jetting cross-country to breed. "You'd put 'em on a plane, you'd open up the crate at a show and they'd be dead. That doesn't have to happen if we can ship the semen instead of the dog." Bardwick has already played the proud clinical matchmaker to 25 litters, including two in Sweden, a batch of 11 borzoi puppies in Canada and an AKC champion corgi. She and partner Dr. Priscilla Stockner have had two spaniel puppies named after them. Still, it is no substitute for an old-fashioned woof wooing: the soprano strains of a distant dog-whistle . . . beef ribs for two in some quiet, out-of-the-way little garbage can. . . . Take Me to Your Liter Hide the yardstick; squish the inchworm. Lorelle M. Young is in charge. The Torrance high school home-ec teacher is the newly elected president of the United States Metric Assn., begun in 1916 and graced at its first meeting by Mme. Montessori, the pioneer teacher. Young is as staunchly launched on the crusade of metric righteousness as that group could want. While many of us may stick to our 16-inch guns, Young is trying to change our thinking to meter and liter. "I see it as a growing problem," she says, an economic one, when being at variance with big-scale metric traders like Japan and Europe will leave us kilometers behind. "It takes us right out of the leadership role. You have to get with it, or you can't compete." Waving the metric banner and speaking on the metric stump is not without its risks, says this Marianne of the kilometer barricades. "People are afraid to learn something new. They're afraid for their jobs. People say it's not an American system, we don't need it. But it's a much more organized and easy system. It didn't grow from kings' hands and thumbs and barleycorns." Her home front is staunchly supportive: Young's husband is a track coach--the 100-meter dash et al. Besides, "Do you ever hear anyone worrying about buying a liter of wine?" Kick That Block If you don't have Writer's Block by now, you'll probably never get it. Stewart Lindh's novel is done at last, and the Santa Monica man who hewed the Writer's Block, that walnut embodiment of every writer's nightmares, won't be making them anymore. "I've had my fun," says Lindh, who banged his brain up against his first bloc d'ecrivain seven years ago in Paris, working on his Ph.D. "There is no rejection slip as profound as the one you send yourself when you don't write." Back in Los Angeles, he crafted The Block, a cube accompanied by a booklet of sayings, some legit (Shelley: "The block that for uncounted ages has remained") and others pure fiction (Eskimo proverb: "Two blocks do not make one write"). He sold and gave away nearly 2,000, one to the White House's Patrick Buchanan, who sent Lindh a two-edged note: "Thank you . . . now I have two." Lindh's next invention: "a piece of blank paper. You crumple it up, cover it in Lucite." That's Hollywood.

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