I realized this while walking my dog along the hike and bike trail. Why, I wondered, do dogs feel compelled to mark their territory on every tree and shrub along the way? Then it occurred to me that big corporations do the same thing by purchasing the naming rights to sports arenas, bowl games, and everything up to and including as-yet-undiscovered planets. The similarities between corporations and dogs led me, predictably enough, to consider a conspiracy theory along the lines that corporate executives are not really human beings but are in fact canines. Not only would that explain their oddly yet undeniably territorial marking instincts; it would also explain that weird "dog eat dog" saying. A dog eating a dog? Why a dog? Why not, say, a rat? If we were talking metaphorically, and I had always assumed we were, wouldn't rats eating rats make more sense than dogs eating dogs? But if corporate executives were, in fact, dogs, then maybe the saying was never a metaphor at all. Maybe it is a coded dog reference to mergers or hostile takeovers or buyouts or one of the many other business-related devourings that no human being actually understands. Maybe such complex business transactions are like certain high-pitched sounds, inaudible to the normal human ear but discernible to canines.

I was working on this corporations-as-canines theory when two thoughts hit me simultaneously. The more insistent of the two was, Why don't they ever put portable johns on hike and bike trails? I filed that thought, making a note to self to include it in a column someday, and went on to the other thought, which was that I should approach big corporations about purchasing the naming rights to my house.

You got your Enron Field in Houston, your American Airlines Center in Dallas, your 3Com Park in San Fran-cisco. The new New England Patriots stadium is going to be called CMGI Field. Just rolls off the tongue, doesn't it? CMGI Field. Why don't they just give it an unpronounceable glyph, a la Prince. They could call it $!@**//?, or the sports venue formerly known as a Football Stadium.