Cats Working vs. Kamakazi Bird

March 30, 2009

By Adele

Alfred Hitchcock would have loved this psychotic robin who lurked in the holly tree outside our kitchen window for 2 weeks, throwing himself at the glass every 30 seconds from sunrise to sunset. His incessant muffled thumping was the stuff of horror flicks.

Whenever Bird Brain took a break from beating himself senseless, he’d preen in Karen’s car windows, dribbling sour scream sprinkled with rat turds down the doors.

What's with birds and chronic diarrhea?

What's with birds and chronic diarrhea?

If Fred, Yul, or I were outdoor cats, this scene would have been a “wrap” in one take, if you know what I mean. Yul seriously considered slipping outside and evading punishment by charming Karen with an edible gift of “Mystery Poultry” upon his return.

But instead, we watched Karen’s futile attempts to scare off Bird Brain by taping pictures of a tiger and peregrine falcons to the window.

The bird didn’t miss a beat. Literally.

Then she tried enlisting us for windowsill sentry duty. The bird would scram, but we had napping and noshing to do, so we soon declared a strike.

To keep Narcissis from crapping all over her Saturn while admiring himself, Karen wrapped her car mirrors in yellow newspaper bags.

Finally, Dollar Tree provided relief in the form of three sharp plastic “wind catchers” that Karen nailed outside the windows.

Yul thinks, "Bird Brain could save me a step and debone himself on these."

Yul muses, "Bird Brain could save me a step by deboning himself on these."

We haven’t heard a thump since they went up, and the car remains sour-cream-free, so the robin’s reign of terror seems to be over.

If you ask us, he got off way too easy.

Rachael Ray Goes Fruity on Anthony Bourdain

March 27, 2009

By Karen

When Anthony Bourdain failed to send the fruit basket he’d considered after reading that Rachael Ray had booked the New York Dolls for her show, she allegedly sent a basket to Tony. It included a note asking him not to shoot any puppies, which had been his other impulse upon realizing that he and Ray share some taste in music.

Bourdain’s peeps deny any such basket was delivered, but I don’t know. It sounds like something Ray just might do.


3/29/09 UPDATE: Story confirmed. Ray did send the basket. Tony has posted a thank-you note to her on his blog.

Bourdain also just told Metromix in Los Angeles in this entertaining, witty interview that he could see himself tossing back shots with Ray if she ever stops cooking, but he could never bring himself to be drinking buddies with Sandra Lee under any circumstances.

And never ceasing to amaze, in that same Q&A, Bourdain revealed that when he’s finished roaming the world, he’d possibly “like to teach creative writing to fifth-graders, or English 101.”

Somehow, I can’t picture Tony diagramming sentences and explaining which parts of speech his favorite 4-letter words are to kids who picked them up from watching vintage episodes of No Reservations.

Here’s some good news for Bourdain’s devoted readers: In another interview with Nation’s Restaurant News, he said that his follow-up to Kitchen Confidential, tentatively titled Cooks, is scheduled for 2010 release.

He also mentioned in that interview, published March 23, that he was heading to Chile the next day, but on March 26 he was in Los Angeles speaking at the UCLA Extension Restaurant Industry Conference.

Continent-hopping is all in a week’s work for our Tony. Since he’d already been spotted in Chile previously, I’m assuming he needed more footage for No Res.

Just before these trips, he was being tracked on the blogosphere all over San Francisco. SF Eater offers the most comprehensive account of Bourdain sightings, complete with a map.

Press Democrat analyzes Bourdain’s taste in beer on that adventure.

After trying to ban such reporting when Bourdain shot in the Philippines, I suspect his producers have done a complete 180 and now welcome all the free advance buzz. These authentic, first-hand insider glimpses only seem to heighten fans’ anticipation for new episodes of No Reservations.

Health Insurers’ Newest Con: Poor Health OK, Birthdays Bad

March 25, 2009

By Karen

Private health insurance groups are worried about potentially deadly competition from an affordable, government-sponsored health care plan so they’re trying to snow Congress with a new shell game: You mandate that everyone buy health insurance from us, and we’ll end discriminatory rating and pricing based on health status.

In the fine print, they add, “Instead, we’ll screw ’em on age, family size, and geographic location.”

It’s a sweet deal for insurers, increasing their customer base by the 45.7 million uninsured. And since they’ve never been able to charge everyone sky-high premiums for poor health, they now can count on us to age.

Just for the record, they already use age as a weapon in the individual market, imposing gratuitous rate hikes every 5 years.

For Republicans, this suggestion keeps their big-business fox squarely in the hen house and they can shove health care back under the rug and pretend everybody’s getting some.

But Democrats had better not fall for this BS. To make private health insurers the fix — by law — will leave Americans even worse off than they are now. Insurers will have free rein to gouge a captive public while continuing to be the greatest obstacle to medical care.

On a personal note, after Anthem tried to hike my premium another 14% this year, I joined the ranks of the underinsured.

Increasing my annual deductible from $500 to $2,250 and giving up prescription coverage, I lowered my annual premium from $5,172 to $2,592. But Anthem put up a fight.

They tried to place me in a higher risk class (level 3) to get the price for crappy coverage up to $3,456, citing “all” the medications (2) I take for hypertension, and my “unoperated” hiatal hernia, which was diagnosed 2 years ago and has never needed follow-up care. According to Anthem, I’m practically an invalid.

Funny thing is, I reported both these situations last year when applying for cheaper coverage (an annual ritual until I have no insurance), with no effect on my risk rating.

Miracle of miracles, Anthem backed down and reinstated my level 2 rating.

But if Congress plays this latest insurance shell game, people like me will be forced to continue fighting for affordable health care against intractable behemoths like Anthem — until we qualify for a government-run plan — Medicare.

Congress, the writing on the wall couldn’t be clearer. Private health insurers ARE the problem you need to solve.

Nadya Suleman Bites the Hands Feeding Her Kids

March 24, 2009

By Adele

Four of the octuplets are now home, and Nadya Suleman took another step toward losing all 14 children. The good news is that nonprofit group Angels in Waiting probably dodged a bullet.

The honeymoon between Nadya and 4 Angels nurses lasted exactly 5 days before Nadya threw them out. She suspected the Angels founder of spying for Child Protective Services.

It seems the Angels had rescinded their generous offer to bankrupt themselves providing round-the-clock care to all 14 kids (due to few donations from an outraged public, perhaps?), and was just training Nadya’s own hand-picked nannies.

Where Nadya’s getting all the green to pay for a bigger house and a paid staff is anybody’s guess.

Now, Nadya and home visitors from the Kaiser Permanente hospital where the octuplets were born will be doing the training.

Anyone could see trouble coming when that abrasive celebrity ambulance-chaser, Gloria Allred, got in on the act, representing the Angels and hitting the airwaves to ask for donations.

And Dr. Phil‘s still playing both ends against the middle. He’s interviewing the Angels on his show this week, even though Nadya fears they’ll “bash” her.

It makes you wonder how Nadya’s treating those kids that’s got her so worried.

My prediction is that an inside job will ultimately cost Nadya custody. She recently declared the kids will never know their father by vowing to protect his identity, so one of the older kids will get the authorities’ attention by venting his frustrations in school, giving them an excuse to go into Suleman’s home and find the chaos.

Bonus: Jimmy Kimmel spoofed Nadya giving birth. It’s funny, if technically inaccurate. She delivered the octuplets by C-section.

Obama, if You’re Not Angry Yet, Then When?

March 23, 2009

By Yul

I’m still proud there’s a black cat in the White House, but he’s beginning to worry me. Playing Mr. Fair, Legal, Constitutional Nice Guy is never going to fix this economy.

Obama needs to remind himself that nice guys finish last. The execs at AIG could tell him, if they weren’t so busy counting the bonuses they received thanks to the loophole Obama’s people insisted on adding to the bailout deal.

It caused taxpayers to send death threats to AIG and visit some executives’ Connecticut mansions just to see how “the other half” is living on their money.

Last week Obama claimed to be “outraged” at AIG, but like most of his strong emotions, it rang pretty hollow.

And now that Congress is channeling the public’s fury and proposing a 90% tax on the bonuses, Obama says he doesn’t want to govern “out of anger.”

If now isn’t the time to be angry, when is? People are losing their jobs, homes, and life savings, and struggling to afford health care while they watch their taxes go directly into the pockets of fat cats. They’re hearing that fat cats’ employment contracts are sacrosanct, while for them it’s, “All bets are off, dontcha know? We’re in a recession!”

The only way to change this mentality of, “Bend over and shut your eyes while we shaft you good and rob you blind,” is a smack-down furious enough to get Corporate America’s attention.

If Obama can’t bring himself to unfairly tax or fire these bozos who wrecked powerful banks, then let’s do it the legal way: Prosecute them. Fraud. Theft. Criminal Negligence. Take your pick.

There’s no such thing as playing fair with crooks. At least behind bars they can do no further harm.

The Latest Tony (Bourdain) Tidbits

March 20, 2009


Sadly, it’s back to reruns of No Reservations until August, but I did manage to scare up a bit of interesting Bourdain news and discussion on the Web.

Although Tony left us in the last new NR episode with the impression that he may not be able to afford a place in Vietnam nice enough to keep his family in the lifestyle to which they have become accustomed in Manhattan, Jaunted’s not buying it.

For MSN, Bourdain wrote 18 brief, sometimes biting, reviews of food shows, and weighed in with characteristic style on Toby Young, the new judge who has joined Top Chef:

“Toby Young, what’s up with that? He’s an egregious add-on. They were looking for a snarky British guy, and Toby wrote a successful book that made a good case for his uselessness. He’s lived up to that promise.”

Surprisingly, Tony also revealed here that wife Ottavia watches Rachael Ray. I suspect it’s not so much that Ottavia loves hearing “Evoo” and “Yummo!”, but a quiet vigil to see if Ray says anything about Antonio to justify taking out a hit. Italians can be very loyal that way.

At a personal appearance in Palm Springs last week, Tony was apparently in rare form and wowed ’em.

For upcoming episodes of No Res, Tony’s travels to Chile and San Francisco have been documented.

And here’s a one-hour video of Tony (mostly Q&A) from 2007 at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco. He reveals, among other things, that he met Ottavia on the first blind date of his life, set up by Eric Ripert’s wife.

First 2 Octuplets Join the Circus

March 19, 2009

By Adele

Kaiser Permanente agreed to let the 2 largest octuplets be Nadya Suleman’s guinea pigs.

Nadya enjoyed an Angelina Jolie moment leaving the hospital with the babies. The paparazzi was savage all the way, leaving dents in her new garage door from their pounding. They frightened Nadya so much, she called the police for protection until she was safely inside her house — with her own camera crew.

Her mother and a gaggle of Angels in Waiting caretakers were also there. They claim they’ll care for the babies as Nadya would and bed them down with Nadya’s scent so they’ll be able to pick their mother out of the crowd.

It warms the heart, doesn’t it?

Meanwhile, the 6 previous kids must navigate this mob, watching all the adults’ obsess over the tiny preemies. Isaiah is 5 lbs. 13 oz. and Noah only 5 lbs.

The remaining 6 octuplets are expected to go home in pairs, and they’ll share 4 cribs in one room. So cute — as long as they all remain shorter than half a crib. Then what? The new house is only about 2,600 square feet — 4 bedrooms, 3 baths. Still not large enough for 15 people and a constant stream of helpers.

Angels in Waiting plans to stay as long as public donations last, and they apparently hope donors don’t realize their money is going down this deeply dysfunctional rat hole. I couldn’t find a word about Nadya’s touching plight on their Web site.

I also can’t explain my fascination with this slow-motion train wreck. The most frustrating thing is that all the attention and assistance may distract Nadya from ever realizing she’s probably inflicting lifelong scars on her 14 fatherless kids by raising them in a zoo.

Waiting for AIG to Do the Right Thing

March 17, 2009

By Fred

Washington is furious over AIG’s plan to waste $165 million taxpayer dollars on bonuses to incompetent executives, but Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) had the best idea:

“I suggest… the first thing that would make me feel a little bit better toward them if they’d follow the Japanese example and come before the American people and take that deep bow and say, ‘I’m sorry,’ and then either do one of two things: resign or go commit suicide.

“And in the case of the Japanese, they usually commit suicide before they make any apology.”

I suggested hard labor on a chain gang, but hara-kari’s even better.

President Obama vows to do whatever he can to stop the bonuses, and to ensure that companies asking for government handouts never try it again.

AIG calls the bonuses “retention payments” (like they’re owed) and promises to cut them by 30% for 2009.

Hello??!! We want them cut 100% today. There’s no need to retain people who ruined the company.

New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo demanded a list of the people set to receive bonuses, as well as the negotiators of their contracts. AIG ignored him, so Cuomo plans to issue subpoenas.

The so-called sanctity of employer-employee contracts doesn’t justify the bonuses. The suits who run their companies into a ditch and then blithely throw thousands of people out of work with no severance, no benefits, and no notice deserve no special protection — and certainly no payoffs.

There’s hope the executives will be shamed into turning down the money, but it makes no sense to expect decency from people who earned their living screwing investors.

I say Cuomo should go for it. And gently-used, sharpened old swords should be sent to AIG in case any execs decide to do the right thing.

Here’s a Fix for AIG

March 16, 2009

By Fred

Some suits never learn. Insurer AIG, who accepted more than $170 billion in bailout money, wants to spit in taxpayers’ eyes by giving about $165 million in bonuses to their 50 top executives. The same guys who achieved Corporate America’s biggest loss in history — $61.7 billion in 4Q2008.

AIG claims their hands are tied because the incompetent execs all have contracts. They’re too stupid to do their jobs, but apparently smart enough to sue for money they know they don’t deserve.

Here’s how I see it: If you bankrupt your company, screwing your stockholders, employees, and customers, all bets are off. You can wipe your butt with that contract.

Here’s how we fix things: Taxpayers now own 80% of AIG. Step 1: Fire those guys. Step 2: Prosecute. To hell with “setting dangerous precedents.” Some dangerous precedents are exactly what we need because these crooks have no fear of repercussions.

Right now, the sight of Armani-clad executives being hauled off to prison in shackles would do for American consumer confidence what the sight of Marie Antoinette’s head in a basket did for peasants during the French Revolution.

Let ‘em spend the rest of their days pounding big rocks into gravel, which they can spread in chain gangs on some of Obama’s road improvement projects. They’ve already proven they’re not cut out for desk jobs.

These Wall St. wizards obviously still don’t get it, and the only thing nobody has tried yet is roughing them up and demanding accountability. What are we waiting for?

Will Nadya Suleman Stop at 14 Kids?

March 14, 2009

By Adele

Since IVF is to octuplet mom Nadya Suleman what water is to a Chia Pet, should we believe her assertion to Dr. Phil that 14 kids are enough? Let’s see…

When she had only 6 kids, Nadya lived in obscurity with her bankrupt mother in a crowded pigsty on the verge of foreclosure.

With 14 kids, her new digs worth $565,000 are being refurbished at no cost by an army of volunteers, with lots of free new furniture courtesy of Dr. Phil.

With only 6, Nadya’s mother struggled to raise them alone while Nadya went off and got pregnant with 8 more.

Now, a dozen caregivers a day, 24/7, from a non-profit called Angels in Waiting will raise all 14 for $135,000 a month — all in public donations — until a disgusted public cuts the Angels off and they go bankrupt, too.

With only 6, Nadya was an unemployed mooch living on government handouts.

Now, she’s pimping her litter to every willing media outlet, claiming she’s leasing the new house with her earnings.

If there were any justice, Nadya would be up to her eyeballs in dirty diapers, vomit, and screaming, neglected kids until she begs Social Services to find them proper homes with two loving parents who aren’t insane.

But thanks to Dr. Phil, Nadya’s dodging all consequences. Using her children as his excuse to bask in her notoriety, Phil is repaying her in freebies.

Don’t be surprised if Phil’s got a special show lined up to “restore” Nadya’s self-esteem with a free tummy tuck and a fresh lip job.

Now addicted to the limelight, I’m betting Nadya won’t stop at 14 if the attention begins to wane.

Meanwhile, her new neighbors will watch the next generation of fatherless criminals grow up. In a rare honest moment, Nadya admitted the first 6 aren’t adjusting well to the notion of 8 more.

The 10 boys will probably start with petty vandalism, maybe torture a few pets, light some fires, then graduate to assault, theft, and worse as they hit their teens.

The 4 girls already have “unwed teenage mother” written all over them.

I’m not saying the kids are bad. They’ll just be be the product of third-party rearing, starved for attention because Mom was always away pursuing fame and getting her nails done.

When Nadya’s second PR flack recently quit, he summed it up by saying that Nadya’s “nuts” and “greedy.”

For the well-being of mankind, I’d like to hear that Nadya Suleman has been spayed.

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