Big Brown’s Back on Track

July 31, 2008

By Fred

Big Brown, that independent-thinking wonder horse, is ready to rumble again on August 3 at Monmouth Park, NJ, in the $1 million Haskell Invitational.

Brownie with his jockey Kent Desormeaux

After his stunning wins at the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness, only to come in last at Belmont and blow his shot at the Triple Crown, Big Brown has been resting up all summer. Unfortunately, his trainer is still Rick Dutrow, Jr., who seems to keep his head buried in kitty litter. He recently said, “…I know the horse went into the Belmont in good condition. I have no idea what happened in that race.”

Hello??!!

Big Brown got hemmed in and bumped by a pack at the rail when he’s used to running free and clear on the outside, it was stifling hot that day, the dirt on the track was much deeper than he likes, and his right rear shoe was falling off.

Anyway, Dutrow says Big Brown today “looks amazing. He’s shiny. He’s happy. He looks as good as he always has.”

Dutrow, meanwhile, has been busy appealing a 15-day suspension by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission for doping another horse at Churchill Downs in May. As long as he drags it out, he can keep working with his horses.

We’ve all got our paws crossed at Cats Working that Big Brown, who has won 5 of his 6 races and earned $2.7 million so far, will again make the other horses at Monmouth look like they’re standing still – most notably, Atoned, who’s being ridden by the late Barbaro’s jockey, Edgar Prado.

Go, Brownie!!


RIC Airport Ruined 35 Years of Perfect Driving

July 29, 2008

By Karen

RIC Airport looks like new, but I wouldn’t call a bogus speed trap on its most baffling stretch of road an improvement.

The chic décor inside implies that Richmond is a welcoming, cosmopolitan place – but just get in your car and they’ll fleece you like you’re in Podunk, Nowhere.

My tale started last Friday when a weekend houseguest flew into RIC. Using the free 30 minutes of parking in the hourly lot, I met him in the terminal.

Leaving, we got stuck behind Mr. Pokey-Pants at the checkout gate, who dragged out my visit to exactly 31 minutes. The gatekeeper knew I was there on time, but she charged me $2 for that ONE extra minute anyway.

Petty, annoying, and unnecessary. But little did I know it could get worse. Much worse.

On Monday at noon, I returned to drop my guest off. On the straight, 2-lane stretch entering the airport with no other traffic in sight, I was cruising toward the terminal, trying to read the myriad conflicting, confusing signs that point in every direction and seem to change with every visit.

Suddenly, an unmarked black car pulled up behind me, lights flashing, and I got a ticket for doing 41 mph in a 25 mph “work zone.”

BUT NO WORK WAS BEING DONE.

The officer’s demeanor over my “crime” was so grave, you’d think he’d seen body parts hanging out of my trunk.

The speed limit on that same road leaving the airport is 45 mph.

So 3 ½ decades of clean driving are down the toilet and I now have a court date – that’s my thanks for bringing business to RIC.


McCain’s Chasing His Own Tail on Iraq

July 25, 2008

By Fred

To listen to John McCain talk about “winning the war” in Iraq, you’d think it’s 1945. Iraq isn’t a “war” and it never was. It was an unprovoked invasion. Now it’s an occupation. And the Iraqis have had enough of it.

Saddam Hussein was a blustering bully, but he was no danger to us when we attacked his country. He had no viable weapons of mass destruction, no ties to al-Qaeda, and nothing to do with 9/11.

In cat parlance, the U.S. subjected Iraq to “misdirected aggression.” Enraged over 9/11, we pounced on the easiest target – an unsuspecting bystander.

Our “enemy” in Iraq didn’t materialize until after we were there. Insurgents arose to kick us out, and outside terrorists joined them just to waste our money and resources – because we made it easy for them to do.

Now McCain is saying, “The fact is, if we had done what Sen. Obama wanted to do, we would have lost.”

Lost WHAT??!! Obama never wanted to go to war. There would have been nothing to lose. We’d even have about an extra trillion dollars to spend fixing our own problems.

McCain doesn’t realize that there’s no “winning” in Iraq because there’s no one to vanquish. Saddam’s dead. Once we leave, the people can go back to squabbling with each other and the terrorists will scatter.

Republicans’ claim that “losing is not an option” is ridiculous, even to a cat. Losing wouldn’t have been an option if they hadn’t attacked Iraq in the first place.

The last thing we need is a president who embraces misdirected aggression as foreign policy and sees “winners” and “losers” in touchy situations where cooperation – not competition – is what’s needed.


Did Anthony Bourdain Have a ‘Top Chef’ Tryst?

July 23, 2008

By Karen

Reader Nickole sent a provocative possibly-Bourdain tidbit from Eater.com, which received a blind item/question to the Top Chef tip line from the friend of a cheftestant in the upcoming 5th season, now being filmed in New York City. It said:

“Say a certain contestant had had a little tryst with a rakish new york rock star chef who is known to be a guest judge on the show. How does this affect his/her decision making ability when the celeb chef has to judge[d] the contestant’s food?”

Speculation immediately began that the “rock star” chef in question is Anthony Bourdain. Said hookup was in the past, so it could have happened when Tony was trolling between Nancy, Paula, and Ottavia (2005-2007). And it seems doubtful he could have known the woman would ever end up on Top Chef.

But I don’t think it’s him, merely because with a new wife and baby and his kinder, gentler persona, he’s anything but “rock star” material now, and he never really was. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think Les Halles was a must-taste NY eatery when he ran the kitchen, and he admits himself that his cooking was never top-tier. Its fame came with his fame – as an author.

It’s been 8 years since Kitchen Confidential was published, and Tony’s been out of the restaurant business nearly that long. His claim even to the title “chef” has become tenuous – occasional forays in front of a stove to fill TV time notwithstanding. If anything, he’s morphed into a professional diner.

Speaking of which, there’s also some speculation on Bourdain’s future with Top Chef, but more on that to come after some research…

[Note: To find the item on Eater.com, scroll down to Top Chef Questions: Can Judging Be Fair in NYC? from July 22, 2008.]


The Absurdity of Krauthammer’s Obama-Bashing

July 22, 2008

By Fred

Syndicated Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer (a/k/a “Old Pickle-Puss” around here) has declared that Barack Obama hasn’t “earned” the right to give a speech July 24 in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Germany because Reagan and Kennedy were much greater when they did it. After the Germans expressed ambivalence for the idea, Obama obligingly moved to the Victory Column in Berlin’s Tiergarten Park.

I suppose that now makes Obama a flip-flopper.

It seems Krauthammer would be happiest if Obama spoke at a truck stop on the Autobahn or, even better, just rolled over and played dead.

I would agree with him that Obama (or any other candidate) campaigning in Europe is as strange as Angela Merkel, Nicolas Sarkozy, or Gordon Brown doing the same here. Except that nobody’s looking to Germany, France, or England for the answers (and money) to solve all mankind’s problems.

After we’ve allowed an idiot to spend 8 years inflicting pain en masse and calling it “democracy” – including eavesdropping, arrest without charges, torture, and death – Obama knows everyone’s watching our next move and wants them on his side.

Gee, what a dumb way for someone vying for the most influential job in the world to think. Obama’s very popular overseas, and it’s the prospect of more photos like this undoubtedly fueling it:

Old Pickle-Puss would rather elect John McCain, who must pretend to be a Bush-lover to keep his party’s clueless lunatic fringe happy, to a vibrant, articulate newcomer who’s unafraid to step onto the world stage, even though he hasn’t spent decades hanging around Congress learning how to do nothing but get re-elected. Instead of playing it safe, Obama’s willing to promise the world that he’ll do his best to clean up the messes we’ve made – and adjust his plans as necessary.

I don’t see what’s wrong with that.


Use Your Trivia to Feed Shelter Cats

July 21, 2008

By Yul

Twelve-year-old Mimi Ausland of Bend, Oregon, is America’s answer to Bindi Irwin, only her best animal friends are domesticated. Mimi’s concern over the growing number of pets being abandoned after losing their homes in foreclosures led her to launch Free Kibble, a Web site to help feed shelter animals. Inspired by the Free Rice Web site for hungry children, she found sponsors to cover the cost of running the site and buying the pet food.

Here’s how it works: A new trivia question about cats or dogs is posted every day. If you take a stab at answering them – right or wrong – 20 bits of dry food get donated to the animals.

Mimi initially set out to help only dogs, but soon expanded her horizons to include cats. Each month, she personally delivers the food her site earns to local shelters, but she hopes to create a network so the program can expand to shelters nationwide.

Cats Working gives Free Kibble 3 tails up. As shelter alumni ourselves, Adele and I really appreciate Mimi’s efforts to provide more square meals for abandoned pets. We urge you to make her site a Favorite and visit every day.


No Surprise: Dog Owners Love McCain

July 16, 2008

By Fred

Dog owners, lovers of unquestioning devotion and blind obedience (and predominantly white), prefer John McCain over Barack Obama 43% to 34%. They must want a president who’ll doggedly maintain the disastrous Bush status quo until no one’s left.

Except for Dick Cheney. Using his free, taxpayer-paid healthcare, he’s rigged his heart so he’ll even outlast the Energizer Bunny.

To match Obama’s youthful friskiness, that old dog McCain does occasionally try new tricks, but they always seem to leave him clenching a tennis ball, looking for someone else to play fetch with. For example, when he thought he’d get treats, he rolled over for evangelicals he once thought were nut jobs.

McCain owns 4 dogs himself, so he’s used to being worshipped as leader of the pack and never questioned, no matter how dense or misguided he is. As a result, he has this 9-point lead among fellow owners of the world’s dimmest pets.

When you factor in cats (who outnumber dogs as pets by 13 million), McCain’s advantage over Obama shrinks to 3% (41% to 38%), even though McCain’s trying to cover all this bases with a black-and-white cat named (yawn) Oreo.

He probably has no idea Oreo’s a Democat who will never submit to being herded or brainwashed if his human wins the White House.

Obama has no pets because he says his kids have allergies, but he’s vowed to get a dog after the election, win or lose.

Big mistake, Obama. You’re obviously a cat person. Get one of our non-allergenic breeds and you won’t have to keep a poop-scoop in the Oval Office.


Matt Harding: The Next Anthony Bourdain?

July 14, 2008

By Karen

Matt Harding, a 31-year-old video game developer from Connecticut, is probably experiencing the same emotions Anthony Bourdain did when his book, Kitchen Confidential, hit the big time and the media came knocking.

In Matt’s case, he achieved notoriety by doing a goofy little dance all over the world that became an Internet sensation in pre-YouTube 2005. It caught the attention of Cadbury Adams, makers Stride gum. As a promotional stunt, they offered to bankroll his second trek to do more of the same.

In 2007, Matt successfully persuaded Cadbury Adams to let him film his dancing again in 39 countries on all 7 continents – with hundreds of partners.

Basically, Matt gets paid to go wherever he wants and dance. The parallels to Bourdain’s path to stardom are striking, although Matt’s schtick is much more low-cal and aerobic.

However, when it comes to snarkiness, Matt’s the anti-Bourdain – a thoroughly nice guy. He has followed in Tony’s footsteps to many places, but managed to avoid dining on warthog butt in Namibia.

Matt’s blog, Where the Hell is Matt?, is where you can find out all about him and his videos.

He also shares travel tips.

Anthony Bourdain, if you’re reading this, rest assured that my devotion hasn’t wavered. I’m just telling you to watch your back. Your aversion to eating family pets probably spawned Andrew Zimmern. Now your well-known loathing for dancing with the locals may compel the Travel Channel to fill that void with Matt Harding.


Do Canadians Secretly Crave Cat Food?

July 11, 2008

By Adele

Pet food companies are finally catering to their most discerning diners – cats. Ground mystery guts are giving way to paw-licking dishes like Chicken Florentine with Whipped Egg Soufflé which, pound for pound, are pricier than people food.

Now Professor Gary Pickering at Brock University in Ontario has recruited human tasters to check it out, claiming cats can’t communicate their preferences clearly enough.

Since when? What’s unclear about a disdainfully mimed litterbox burial over the food bowl? What’s murky about that untouched pile of rotting brown, crusty mush? Obviously, the cat would rather starve than eat it.

When a cat gobbles the food and licks the plate, that means haute cuisine – excellent flavor, texture, color, and smell. However, when the same food sits left over in the can all day to be served cold for dinner, that’s prison swill. It’s not rocket science.

I suspect Pickering’s “research” is just a front to keep colleagues from noticing his secret cat food fetish, or why his homemade tuna sandwiches have a suspiciously strong aroma.

His tasters rated cat foods on some weird attributes like caramel, cereal, soy, burnt flavors, bitter, and offaly (i.e., nasty bits), as well as grittiness and chewiness.

However, since they omitted fresh bird or mouse carcasses, and even moths – all feline delicacies – their findings are moot because they lacked the standard against which cats rate canned food.

We know you humans keep all the best cuts of meat for yourselves, but we’re willing to forgive in exchange for yummy sauces. In fact, Fred and Yul usually eat nothing but the sauces.

So, forget about developing exotic new flavors to please our palate. Cats just want more GRAVY.


Diss Cats at Your Own Risk

July 8, 2008

By Adele

Cats hate being laughed at, and some humans are teetering between humor and disrespect. It’s only fair to warn you that we’ve noticed, we’re not amused, and we have friends who spray.

Take Kitty Wigs – please. They’re on no cat’s wish list, except maybe hairless Sphynxes with self-esteem issues.

If you find yourself wearing one of these synthetic abominations, hurl a hairball on the carpet. In the seconds it takes your human to fetch paper towels, rip the wig to shreds.

Another site called Stuff on My Cat is almost too silly to be offensive. Humans pile things like cell phones and socks on cats and photograph their handiwork. How lame is that?

Cats That Look Like Hitler is photos of cats who, by birth – or someone’s “accidental” use of a Sharpie – have facial markings like Der Fürher. They’re called “Kitlers” and we don’t approve because Hitler was a dog person.

No non-black cat is safe from becoming this site’s next victim.

A sweet white cat (like me) at Cat Town is forced to wear many hats – literally – to portray at least 7 characters in a kitty soap opera with really bad scripts. That cat deserves Equity wages x 7 plus a lifetime membership in SAG.

Cat Town also has a character named El Guapo who looks like Hitler. Whether it’s natural or by Sharpie is anybody’s guess.

One site gets my Cats Working stamp of approval. It’s the Popovich Comedy Pet Theater. This guy rescues cats, helps them perfect one trick of their choosing, then puts them in his show. Except for occasional embarrassing collars, he treats the cats with dignity and respect, and the cats show the world what we’re capable of.

On the other hand, maybe we’d better keep that our secret…


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