Giuliani the Un-Candidate… Romney the Undead?

January 31, 2008

By Fred

I was sorry to see John Edwards leave the Democratic race, but I don’t blame him. Rather than taking sides with what’s left, I’ll leave it up to the convention. I commend Edwards’ pit-bull determination to stay with the issues until they were eclipsed by race and gender.

But what was up with Giuliani? After roaring out of the gate, he either hung out with total boneheads or personally had the worst idea ever: to skip the Republican dogfights in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina. He probably thought he was keeping his paws clean, but anyone who’d expect Florida retirees to propel him into the White House is too stupid to be president. Oops, except for Bush, of course.

Tim Russert summed it up when he told Brian Williams that the more people saw of Giuliani, the less they liked him. Who wants to listen to Rudy chant “9/11” like a mantra until 2012?

Buying into that, the media fostered this myth that Rudy’s a fierce junkyard dog on terrorism, but I don’t think he ever took down a single terrorist – rescued a survivor, or recovered a victim – from 9/11. Without the bullhorn, his style was to sneak around on his wife and tell her via TV he wanted a divorce, rather than ‘fess up to her face.

Some hero.

I just hope Giuliani’s whopping 15% of support will be enough to help John McCain keep the lid down on Mitt Romney’s coffin.

Romney makes my fur stand on end. With his preternaturally calm demeanor, chiseled physical perfection, and mysterious dark places in his private life, it seems he’d feel more at home in Castle Dracula than the White House. Every time he mentions Ronald Reagan, I wonder if he ever met Reagan – as a bat.

At least McCain doesn’t make you want to wear a wider collar to hide your neck.

Was That Ariane Bourdain in Greece?

January 30, 2008

By Karen

I just saw Anthony Bourdain in the Greek Isles on No Reservations, and I think he partially granted my wish to see his new family. But I may be wrong. I don’t have the technical expertise to post the moment here, so you’ll have to watch for yourself and decide, but I can tell you exactly where to look because it happens fast.

I first got suspicious when Bourdain was wearing a wedding band on the correct finger, in addition to his usual right thumb ring, while shooting his first meal. The ring stayed there, the sure sign of a wife nearby.

That night, his first dinner was staged to look like a manly event with raki flowing freely, a potent liquor Bourdain compared to lighter fluid.

After he’d downed a few too many, his cameraman came around the other side of the table to reveal Bourdain had an infant sitting in a red high-backed chair to his right. For just a second, he casts a fond look at someone just off-camera, sitting across from the baby.

It’s unlikely the Greek guys brought babies to their drinking binge with an American TV star, so that must have been Ariane. I’m guessing Tony, the ardent newlywed, persuaded Ottavia to come along, like in the good old pre-baby days. Then he got:

“You dragged us all the way to Greece so we can sit in a hotel room while you drink with the boys? Fat f#$%ing chance!”

Watch it yourself and let me know what you think.

L.A. Cats vs. Rodents. Guess Who’s Winning?

January 29, 2008

By Fred

Vermin’s days reigning California’s mean streets are over. They’re fleeing or facing extinction because ferals are working like cats with rewarding careers through a rescue and advocacy group called Voice for the Animals (VFTA).


(Photo by Bob Chamberlin, LA Times)

Ferals are kitties with no use for domestication. VFTA catches them and then sterilizes, vaccinates, and microchips them for their own protection. Then they’re reassigned where they can do some good, like the Flower Market in Los Angeles, which has been infested with rats since 1909.

The cats are kept in a big cage until they feel comfortable in the new place and consider it their home. This usually takes about a month. Otherwise, they’ll split and try go back where they came from.

Once on the job, few corporate CEOs have it so cushy. The cats’ duties consist of eating, sunbathing, and prowling. Thanks to eons of losing wars with us, all it takes is the smell of a cat to make rodents run for their lives.

Once cats were on the case, the Flower Market was soon rodent-free without poisons, traps, or disgusting rat carcasses – except when the cats killed for practice.

The Los Angeles Police Department’s Southeast Division recruited 6 ferals when the rodents got so brazen, rats lived in bicycle officers’ equipment bags in the parking lot, and mice scurried across people’s desks inside. Humans who doubted the cats’ abilities were soon believers when the vermin vanished.

Ferals have no use for humans except at mealtime. However, if these working cats have a change of heart and turn friendly, they’re retired and put up for adoption.

So, with gainful employment, housing, regular meals, sports opportunities, and career options, L.A.’s ferals are sitting in the catbird seat.

Black Cats are Never Dull

January 28, 2008

By Adele

We’re not superstitious, but Yul demonstrates daily how exciting life with a black cat can be. He’s always in touch with his “dark side” and pushing his limits.

But if the chips were ever down, we know Yul would be the one with the brains, guts, and strength to save us.

Like a plucky black “moggy” named Salem in Rochester, England, who recently saved his careless owner, Lucy Thompson. She started a fire in her apartment at 4 a.m. by leaving a candle burning in the living room that ignited the furniture.


The place was filled with smoke when Salem started biting Lucy’s hand and scratching her face to wake her. The cat’s cool head and quick thinking saved not only one of his lives and Lucy’s, but allowed her to rouse the neighbors and grab her other cat, Syrius.

Eat your heart out, Lassie.

And in California, an anonymous black cat got himself rescued on January 17 from the top of a power pole, where he’d been precariously standing for as long as four days. Electricity was briefly cut off to 1,700 customers of Pacific Gas & Electric in the Martell/Jackson area so rescuers could reach the cat safely in a cherry-picker. He knew he was getting a life back and didn’t resist.


No one knows what sent him up the pole in the first place, but he had the sense not to try tightrope-walking on the live wires.

He was wearing a collar (but no tags) and is very friendly, so the people keeping him at the Martell animal shelter hope his owners come to claim him.

Games Health Insurers Play

January 26, 2008

By Karen

I don’t think anyone inspires more fear and loathing than health insurers and the IRS. After an 18% premium hike in January put my insurance within spitting distance of my mortgage payment, I’ve been trying to get a cheaper, higher-deductible policy from the same company. They’ve been dragging their feet.

They’ve already got a file on me dating back to 1992, so you’d think it would be just a matter of changing my policy number. But, no. They needed another application, and now they’re carefully… and slowly… dissecting it.

Last Saturday morning, they phoned to quiz me on a few points. Seems the underwriter had “questions.”

I gave nothing more than what I wrote on my application. There’s nothing to tell. No surgery, no prescriptions, not even follow-up. I felt they were trying to catch me off-guard on a weekend, hoping I’d spill some juicy, life-threatening secret.

The truth is that I have no serious health issues except hypertension (which they aren’t helping), but it’s under control. But it’s disgustingly apparently they’re slavering for any excuse to keep my rate jacked up while providing less coverage.

Meanwhile, the clock’s ticking on my current policy. The premium is due February 1, and I haven’t sent it in yet, hoping for February 1 inception on the new coverage so I can save $110.

My agent says I’m paranoid, and maybe he’s right. He swears I have a 30-day grace period on February. But it wouldn’t surprise me if my insurer drags this out past February 1 so they can:

1) cancel me to create a coverage gap they can exploit (an “accidental” error they’ll take months to correct while I pay more for it), and

2) report the late payment to the credit bureaus to put a ding in my credit rating.

I’ve always dealt with them in good faith, being honest about my health and punctual with payments. They’ve done nothing but evade, deny, extort, and exaggerate minor, one-time ailments from my distant past into time bombs too risky to cover for less than a fortune.

Something is fundamentally wrong with a health system where we’re forced to keep forking over large sums of money to companies whose manner of doing business we find morally and ethically repugnant, and who are too often opposed to helping us maintain the health we’re supposedly paying them to “protect.”

After a Saturday morning assault, I’m bracing for whatever they dish out next.

Holy Catnip! 2008 is The Year of the Rat

January 25, 2008

By Yul


February 7 marks New Year’s Day in the “Year of the Rat.” The Chinese lunar calendar is represented by 12 animals, in this order: rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep (or goat), monkey, rooster, dog, and pig (or boar).

You’ll notice the cat is nowhere on this list. This legend explains why:

Chinese gods held a race for all the animals wanting a position in the cycle of years. The animals had to line up on one bank of a river and get to the opposite shore, with their finishing time determining their order on the calendar.

The cat had a problem because he hated water. The ox had bad eyesight and didn’t know if he could even find the opposite shore.

The rat, ever-sensitive to other species, made a helpful, benevolent suggestion to the ox: “Let me and the cat ride on your back and we’ll be your GPS.”

The ox fell for it (even though GPS wouldn’t be invented for centuries), let the rodent and feline climb on, and started plodding across the river.

Just as you’d expect from a conniving rat, he pushed the cat into the water mid-stream. Then as the ox reached the far riverbank, the rat jumped off and came in first. So, the Chinese rewarded that cheating little vermin by naming their first year in his honor, the ox got the second year, and the cat got nothing.

Cats have never forgotten this humiliation, so we kill rats at every opportunity. Hunting them this year will be great, since the last gesture of reverence they’ll be expecting is a broken neck.

Gracie Mae, the Amazing Flying Cat

January 24, 2008

By Adele

Even when a kitten’s surrounded by clueless humans, her story can still have a happy ending.

Gracie Mae is a 10-month-old tabby who lives in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., with Seth and Kelly Levy. She’d just been spayed a few days before Seth took a trip to Texas, but Gracie didn’t let a stitched tummy and convalescence stop her from doing what cats do best.


Gracie Mae reunited with the silly humans who love her.

While Seth was packing, Gracie playfully jumped into his suitcase as if to tag along. The joke was on Gracie when the guy slammed the case shut with her inside and left for the Ft. Lauderdale airport.

Gracie went through checked luggage screening, and American Airlines apparently didn’t blink twice when a cat skeleton passed through their x-ray.

Somehow Gracie managed not to suffocate or freeze to death in the cargo hold and arrived safely at Dallas/Ft. Worth, when Rob Carter mistakenly claimed the luggage and took it home to Ft. Worth. He realized his mistake only when he didn’t recognize the clothes inside, but it was too late. The cat was out of the bag – and under the bed.

Carter said he “screamed like a little girl,” but noticed Gracie’s ID tag. He called Kelly Levy, who was distraught, and they arranged for Gracie to fly home with Seth for $80 the next day, presumably in a proper carrier.

The Levys are happy Gracie’s back. This incident aside, they’re obviously responsible owners, having Gracie spayed and tagged. If they weren’t, she’d be living in Texas now with Rob Carter and named “Suitcase.”

This story evokes memories of another adventurous tabby named Emily who, in 2005, traveled from Wisconsin in a cargo container, via Chicago and Belgium, to France.

Gracie Mae and Emily offer these lessons to all cats: 1) When given an ID tag, wear it graciously, and 2) Always keep your pussport up-to-date.

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