Dr. Phil Falls for Nadya Suleman’s BS

February 27, 2009

By Adele

Cats Working gives Dr. Phil three tails down on his interview with octuplet mom Nadya Suleman. He reportedly didn’t pay her to talk, but he rented a $1.2 million house for the 2-part show (why?) and had her picked up in a limo.

In return for the favors, after Phil prefaced some of his lame-brained questions with, “The country is waiting for you to admit this,” she’d obligingly say whatever he wanted to hear, like…

Yes, it was a mistake to have 8 babies.

No, I’m not addicted to being pregnant. In fact, I loathe it.

So where’s the loathing in those smug photos of her with her stomach out to there?

Phil begged everyone for donations for Nadya, “For the sake of the children.”

Thank goodness the hospital is finally showing some common sense. This week they gave Nadya a 3-page list of conditions to meet to get custody of the babies. Naturally, she went crying to Dr. Phil.

I think Phil is dead wrong. The only hope for Nadya Suleman is to take all the kids away and place them in mature, two-parent families who don’t want a herd and aren’t living on handouts.

Give Nadya a penny, and she’ll just blow it on more IVF, plastic surgery, and French manicures, like she’s been doing.

Nadya shouldn’t get a bigger house. She told Phil she thinks she can squash 14 kids and 2 adults into a 4-bedroom home. Obviously, she can’t see the octuplets growing any bigger than roasting chickens.

What Nadya needs is another chance to grow up. She’s used her kids to suck her parents dry into bankruptcy and pending foreclosure. She’s run up a mountain of student debt and still has over a year to go toward her master’s degree. And she hasn’t worked a regular job since 1999.

To sort out the mess that is Nadya’s life, she needs some time alone, obscure and penniless as a stray, unable to manipulate and mooch off everyone who has the misfortune to meet her.

And without Nadya setting an example as the quintessential parasite, maybe her children will have a shot at growing up responsible adults.

It’s their only hope.


Circuit City Bankruptcy Judge Slaps Justice in the Face

February 26, 2009

By Fred

Thanks to U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Kevin Huennekens, the last ones shoveling dirt into Circuit City’s grave may divvy up about $4 million in bonuses. It’s short of the $4.65 million they originally wanted, but nobody will suffer because one executive left, and James Marcum, the vice chairman and acting president and CEO, took his name off the handout list.

However, they hope to reward Marcum for his noble gesture by slipping him a little something later when the heat’s off.

Meanwhile, 34,000 employees being robbed of their livelihoods by this bunch will lose their health insurance after March 31.

Marcum still doesn’t seem to get it, trying to justify the bonuses because, “We are asking people to put off their futures” by helping to wind down the business.

No, Marcum. The people whose futures are on hold are the ones scrambling because you kicked them to the curb. The jerks still occupying the offices around you know exactly how long they have to update their résumés (don’t they say it’s best to look for a job while you still have one?). They’re still collecting regular paychecks. And if they do a crackerjack job dismembering the rotting carcass of your company, they’ll get a bonus.

It would be refreshing for Marcum to be the first CEO in history to admit that those whose string of breathtakingly bad decisions are the last people on earth who deserve bonuses. And that he will seek a bottom-rung position in fast food to atone for inflicting financial and medical chaos on tens of thousands of people who depended on Circuit City’s top dogs for sound leadership and judgment.

But why should he? Judge Huennekens thinks the bonus idea is dandy. As long as we keep rewarding incompetence, Corporate America’s clueless CEOs will never take responsibility.


Vermin are Making News Again

February 25, 2009

By Fred

I warned people about getting too chummy with vermin after that huge rat turned up in Papua, Indonesian New Guinea. Now a 6-pound bamboo rat with a 12-inch tail and inch-long teeth has been found strolling through a residential area of Fuzhou, China, a city with a population of 6 million people.

You know that rat’s got family nearby.

Some man who apparently skipped history class the day they learned about Black Plague decided to grab the thing by the scruff of the neck, stuff it in a bag, and take it home. Here’s the fool holding his catch of the day:

"Mmmm, rat. It's lip-smacking good." (Photo - News.163.com)

"Mmmm, rat. It's lip-smacking good." (Photo - News.163.com)

The question now is, what are his intentions? The Chinese consider rats an excellent source of protein, if you know what I mean. (Cats, too, I hear. They’ll eat anything.)

I suspect that sucker ended up as ratatouille.

Covering the rodent beat right here at home, I discovered the American Fancy Rat & Mouse Association. Really. They have breeds and shows where their best specimens compete, like the world needs high-quality vermin.

People deliberately breed these things, and the ones who aren’t show quality sometimes end up in laboratories participating in gruesome experiments.

It seems to me that this hobby could cause problems with our relations with India. That country is overrun with rodents and people starve because rats beat them to the rice.

While I have nothing against finding new and exotic ways to kill vermin, I draw an ethical line at bringing them into the world solely to doom them. Where’s the sport in that?


Part 3: The Truth About Ottavia Bourdain

February 23, 2009

By Karen

While Anthony Bourdain was autographing my copy of No Reservations: Around the World on an Empty Stomach at the Durham Performing Arts Center on February 19, he mumbled something with an Italian accent like, “Make sure you see Cats Working!”

“What?” I asked.

That’s when I learned that it was his wife, Ottavia, who put him on to Cats Working. And it was she who suggested he send me a Christmas card.

Talk about a shock. Every snarky post and comment ever written about her flashed through my mind like it was my final moment on earth. But trying to keep my wits about me, I changed the subject and inquired after Lupetto, his cat.

I figured that’s what he’d expect Cats Working to ask.

“Lupetto’s a 6-year-old male. Ottavia rescued him from the North Shore Animal League some time ago. He came as part of the package,” Tony said.

And I’ve been thinking Ottavia was like my Italian grandmother and hates animals, when all the time, the woman’s been scooping a litterbox. She’s a cat person!

If you look beyond her style and youth (both of which I wish I still had, by the way), Ottavia sounds like exactly the smart, earthy type of woman we’d expect to capture Bourdain’s fancy.

And seemingly to put to rest a reader’s comment about her origins, I was told that Ottavia hails from her mother’s home, the Lombardy region of Italy, and that her father is Sardinian.

Since it’s now abundantly clear to me that someone in the Bourdain household has read Cats Working pretty thoroughly, I want to set the record straight and apologize publicly to Ottavia for misperceptions about her that arose in the absence of facts, to provide the truth so the curious can find it here (because her name continues to appear as one of my top searches), and to thank her for not putting out a hit on me.

Like Tony, she’s a genuine class act — a much-beloved wife — and probably about to have her hands full as daughter Ariane enters her terrible 2’s in April.


Part 2: Meeting Anthony Bourdain

February 22, 2009

By Karen

It looked like more than 100 people lingered to meet Anthony Bourdain when the lights came up at the Durham Performing Arts Center on February 19, and they were mostly seated in the front rows. Barnes & Noble had been selling most of his titles in the lobby, but many women like me carried large purses containing their own books. I had brought No Reservations: Around the World on an Empty Stomach.

This is the only area where DPAC fell short, in my opinion. After paying an extra $65 to get up close to Bourdain, these fans deserved more than the hurried cattle call they got.

After no one seemed to be taking charge, we all began trickling out a side door of the auditorium in considerable confusion. Quite a few people said, “Screw this,” and headed for the exit. The rest of us made our way up some stairs to the bare, cavernous backstage area, where a long table had been set up for Bourdain.

Tony was seated behind it, surrounded by DPAC handlers who mostly blocked anyone from getting any good photos of him. Cameras had been prohibited in the auditorium, and they weren’t encouraging photos ops now, but I caught this profile as I stood in line.

Bourdain, about to meet Cats Working.

Bourdain, about to meet Cats Working.

We were told to write our preferred inscription on an index card and insert it in the title page of our book. Someone took my book and it got ahead of me in line, so when Tony read my card saying, “Karen,” a man was standing with it.

I quickly switched places with the guy and handed Tony a copy of my book, How to Work Like a CAT. He looked up at me with a broad smile (not snarling at all), reached out to shake my hand, and asked, “Do you want this written to Karen or to Cats Working?”

The jig was up.

I said, “Either way,” and he proceeded to write…

nores-cover

And draw on the facing page…

nores-facepg

Inscribing my book took him so long that the DPAC people started getting antsy. One of them said, “Maybe we should get him another pen.” The people in line behind me watched us in silence.

While he scribbled, I managed a bit of chit-chat and he set the record straight on something very important. But more on that later.

Then I whipped out my camera and asked if we could have a photo. Tony readily stood up and let me come around the table so another fan could snap us together.

Holy crap! I look like his mother!

Holy crap! I look like his mother!

Then he resumed his seat, handed my signed book back to me, and shook my hand again with a big smile, saying it was good meeting me.

I reached over, touched the cover of my little book, and told him, “You embody working like a cat,” before a DPAC goon pointed me toward the opposite wall, where I had to find a way out and ended up on the stage.

I’m saving what I learned from my encounter with Bourdain for last so I can do the topic full justice with its own post. Stay tuned…


Part 1: An Evening with Anthony Bourdain

February 21, 2009

By Karen

On February 19, I was in my seat at the Durham (NC) Performing Arts Center 45 minutes before show time — and I’ve been lying about where it was.

When Anthony Bourdain kindly provided me a complimentary ticket to his show and VIP book signing a few weeks ago, I decided to keep my seating options open until I knew if his seat was better or worse than mine in the Grand Tier.

Tony’s was better. MUCH better. Fifteenth row orchestra, dead center.

The sold-out house of all ages hummed with anticipation. Tony came on stage to enthusiastic applause. He was dressed in black from head to toe, wearing a jacket over an open-necked, untucked shirt, achieving that rumpled, casual, yet somehow appropriate look he pulls off so elegantly.

He stood beside the podium, laying his left hand on it as a prop while he talked, glancing over at it occasionally. I thought perhaps he was referring to a topic outline because his transitions were so smooth and his delivery so easy and intimate before such a large crowd, I figured he had to have some notes.

Many of his tales and opinions were familiar to his fans, but he regaled us anyway. His profanity was judicious and well-placed. And he seemed totally in the moment, hearing and responding to some audience members who yelled out.

Although he said he’s watching mostly Nickelodeon with daughter Ariane these days, he hit the Food Network. First, he said he intends to lay off Rachael Ray because she’s such “low-hanging fruit.”

However, he’d relish seeing Martha Stewart square off against Rachael in a cooking competition. Naturally, Martha would win, “and then probably shank Ray in the green room afterward.”

He greatly admires Martha’s culinary prowess and technique, and said if one of his cooks ever conked out in his kitchen at Les Halles and Martha was dining out front, he’d trust her to jump in and man the empty station, saying, “You can always count on Martha to watch your back.”

He also praised his usual favorites: Ina Garten, Giada De Laurentis, and Nigella Lawson.

He called Sandra Lee’s Kwanzaa Cake a “war crime,” worries that Robin Miller’s skinny little arm will break every time she reaches for the fridge door, and feels sorry for Bobby Flay every time he gets thrown down.

Tony doesn’t know how teetotaler Andrew Zimmern eats bizarre food — especially all those balls — without benefit of alcohol, and why Adam Richman of Man vs. Food relishes piles of bad food. And all the delusional contestants on Gordon Ramsey’s Hell’s Kitchen remind him of the kids who used to pick their noses in school and eat the results.

As for No Reservations, when he recently filmed in Sri Lanka, he felt so jet-lagged and lousy the first three days, he almost began to question what he was doing, but the show had to go on and he got over it.

His favorite NR episodes, stylistically, have been Cleveland and Venice.

Bourdain revealed that he loathes Lou Dobbs, I gathered, for his stance on immigration, since Tony said in the same breath that he himself advocates amnesty for all Mexican kitchen workers.

He also thinks that Garrison Keillor has done to poetry “what Hitler did to Poland.”

And he has no love for author James Frey, who tried to pass off A Million Little Pieces as a memoir. Tony read the book hot off the press and said, “I didn’t need Oprah to tell me it was a fake.” Because he felt it did a disservice to people seeking help for drug addiction, he’d “cross a street to punch Frey and wish him a shitty day.”

A Q&A session followed Tony’s talk, and maybe 4 questions were asked from all those the audience submitted, and they were nothing ground-breaking. But here’s Tony’s answer to, “When will you go vegan?”

“When Sandra Lee and I have our 4th love child. When I join the road show of Mama Mia. Or when I give Billy Joel that long, lingering massage I’ve been promising him.”

It was a good night, and it was about get even better as the audience filed out, leaving behind those of us who had passes to the VIP book signing backstage. Stay tuned…


Who Would Have Thought Bristol’s the Smart Palin?

February 20, 2009

By Adele

When Bristol Palin talked to Greta Van Susteren on Fox, she showed who got the brains in the Palin family. It’s not saying much, but Bristol’s guts impressed me.

Although her speech is sprinkled with “like” and “you know,” Bristol inspired unfortunate comparisons to Mom’s fiasco with Katie Couric. Bristol formed coherent sentences and gave straightforward answers, hedging only on the gory details of what led to Tripp.

With common sense unexpected in a spawn of Palin, Bristol admitted getting pregnant was dumb and she should have waited 10 years.

On the other hand, she declared Mom’s abstinence-only ideas “not realistic at all” for most teenagers.

Bristol would like to help prevent teen pregnancies, so she must be pro-birth control. That would help a lot more girls than her mother’s head-in-the-sand approach.

Bristol only gave Sarah one day’s notice that she was talking to Fox, so Sarah had to think fast to get herself in front of the camera. Wielding Tripp himself, she commandeered a chunk of the interview to put her spin on teen pregnancy, lest anyone forget she might run for president in 2012.

Sarah now condones teenage girls having babies if they have lots of family support. (And, obviously, lots of family financial support, since their job prospects are nil without even a high school diploma.)

Once again, we see a Republican forced to confront her own idiotic beliefs morphing them to fit her particular pickle.

If Sarah really wants to see a Palin in the White House, she should hoard her PAC money until Bristol can run because the girl’s more honest, articulate, and firmly rooted in reality than Mom can ever hope to be.


It’s B-Day! Meeting Anthony Bourdain in Durham

February 19, 2009

By Karen

When I discovered Anthony Bourdain and No Reservations a few years ago, it never occurred to me that our paths would cross and I’d wake up one day planning to meet him.

While making my tea this morning in my little Virginia kitchen, it seemed surreal to think by this evening I’ll be in a sold-out crowd, breathing Tony’s air and, later, thanks to his generosity, lining up for his autograph and introducing myself as the infamous Cats Working.

Then I’ll duck.

Shampooing with Miracle-Gro hasn’t done much for my butchered hair. (Thanks, Fantastic Sam’s!) If there’s a photo op, I’ll be the boy standing next to Tony.

My red V-neck sweater, hoop earrings, and plenty of makeup are packed and ready to roll. The Saturn’s gassed up. Driving to Durham, I’ll be re-listening to French Lessons by Peter Mayle. Fittingly, it’s about his gastronomic adventures. After years of No Res, I expect to “get” it a lot more than I did the first time.

You won’t hear from me again until after the event, but I’m turning the keyboard over to Adele.

If you don’t hear from me again, I’m dead and Bourdain’s on the lam. Contact the Travel Channel and the FBI immediately.

Bonus:

Found some reviews on the Philippines episode. Filipino American Pinoy Life loved it and provided several links to other bloggers’ posts.

Wordblots also weighed in.

Wish me luck!

Oh, and Bob, Winnipeg ROCKS!


Cooper, the Shutterbug Cat

February 17, 2009

By Yul

Humans don’t have a lock on travel photography. Cooper is a 3-year-old orange tabby and former stray who single-pawedly creates gallery-worthy art and travel slide shows from his ‘hood in Seattle.

To satisfy their curiosity, owners Michael and Dierdre Cross rigged Cooper in a special harness to go about his business one day a week for a year wearing a digital camera that snapped pics every two minutes.

"Say 'Treats!'" (Photo - My Seattle Pets)

"Say 'Treats!'" (Photo - My Seattle Pets)

The Crosses, filmmakers themselves, were stunned by the results.

While many photos were duds, Cooper captured some real jewels, showing a natural flair for composition and special effects. Some of his locales have yet to be identified.

“He takes beautiful nature and wildlife scenes and amazing abstracts. He also takes a couple portraits — one of a friend of ours and one of another cat, finally. We’re now calling it Cooper’s girlfriend,” said Michael Cross.

On that score, Cooper’s mum. He doesn’t kiss and tell.

Cooper’s first local gallery showing opened last week at the Urban Light Studios in the Greenwood Collective. His work has also been exhibited in London and he did a spot on Cats 101, a series on Animal Planet.

Check out some of Cooper’s work and his blog.

What’s in it for Cooper? After supplying photographic proof that he waits hours at the door to be let in, the Crosses installed a special cat door Cooper can control with an infrared sensor on his collar.

Some of the proceeds from sales of Cooper’s work will go to PAWS, a progressive animal welfare society in Seattle.


Bourdain Does the Philippines: Redux

February 15, 2009

By Karen

Since Bourdain’s visit to the Philippines got thoroughly documented once the No Reservations producers realized the foolishness and futility of trying to muzzle the blogosphere, I’m returning to my original post on it. The episode airs February 16.

Last week I was contacted by a woman from Room214 in Colorado, a company that helps the Travel Channel foster word-of-mouth buzz for some of its programs. She confessed to being a long-time Cats Working lurker and offered me, as an “influential blogger” (her words, not mine), some “inside scoop” on upcoming episodes.

My first dose of scoop was on the Philippines, and I’ll confess feeling underwhelmed. To repeat it would make me a PR flack for Bourdain and he’d lose all respect for me. However, if you want to read it, So Much More Than a Mom posted it verbatim.

Since Cats Working readers have come to expect original content, I resurrected my original October 24, 2008, observations on this episode, which were fresh at the time. It’s the post I pulled because Claude Tayag’s nephew asked me to when he told me that the NR producers were concerned about leaks. If you compare it to what Room214’s putting out there in advance buzz, it’s inconsequential. Here it is:

Bourdain’s Smoking in the Philippines

Anthony Bourdain checked in with fans on his blog and graciously endured a ritual flogging over the dismal results of his recent special, At the Table With Anthony Bourdain, while en route to shooting a long-awaited episode of No Reservations in the Philippines.

Filipino bloggers have been tracking him. Our Awesome Planet reported (in the post he was asked to delete, but I read it first) that Tony was in Pampanga at Claude Tayag’s Bale Dutung on October 23, with plans to do an “Ultimate Pampanga Tour” on the 25th, which includes eating “juicy kwentos from Tito Claude.”

Tony with Mr. and Mrs. Claude Tayag (Photo - Jumbo Tayag)

Tony with Mr. and Mrs. Claude Tayag (Photo – Jumbo Tayag)

This blog also reports that Tony drained the place of an apparently nasty beer called San Mig Light that earned a “D+ avoid” rating with the Beer Advocate. I assume Tony’s holding one in the photo.

Awesome Planet went on to say Tony was the first (and last) person allowed to smoke in Bale Dutung. Now I’m wondering if Tony isn’t holding a cigarette in the right hand he’s coyly concealing, in case the photo ever falls into Ottavia’s hands?

The blog post ended saying that a trip to Aling Lucing’s Sisig was canceled because “lasheng na si Bourdain. hahahahaha.”

I couldn’t find a translation for this phrase, so maybe someone who speaks the language can help me out. I suspect it has something to do with “raging hangover.”

(UPDATE: Before I yanked this post, several readers commented that the remark had to do with drunkenness, and I was unable to find a translation because the spelling was slurred for effect.)

Perhaps that nightmare of a posh meal “At the Table” was a wake-up call. The old Bourdain seems to be back.

Now, back to the present…

As a tie-in to his visit, Tony gave Filipino magazine, Rogue, an interview. A Whiff of Lemongrass captured one page of it. The interviewer seemed to be using the list of questions Bourdain has answered a million times, but Tony does get in a good dig at food bloggers.

Anthropologist reported a few more of Bourdain’s comments.

And if Tony needed any more evidence that he’s sorely missed on Top Chef — and new guest judge Toby Young is suffering mightily in comparison — Blogging Top Chef posted results of yet another poll. Their first names may differ by only one letter, but in style and wit, Tony and Toby are light years apart.

And I just came across this first-hand account (with photos) from Profumo Profondo, who dined at Les Halles that memorable night Bourdain returned to work a double shift and invited Eric Ripert to man the grill station.

Meanwhile, I’m beginning prep for my own live encounter with Bourdain in Durham, NC, on February 19.


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