Anthony Bourdain Flirts with a Cardigan

August 31, 2009

By Karen

This week’s new episode of No Reservations is another special where Anthony Bourdain answers fans’ “Burning Questions,” but they look pretty tepid from the promo and the results of a lame Travel Channel poll. (Note to TC: Softball questions tossed by your PR people  to your biggest star can never burn.)

I expect the best moments will be some footage of Zamir.

However, what is truly shocking is Tony’s blog post this week, For Parents Only. He wantonly slips of out of his leather jacket and sexy, single, world-weary wanderer persona and into his bunny slippers to review kiddie TV. I’m not a parent, but I loved it. He makes me want to catch some of these God-awful shows to see how low children’s television has sunk since Captain Kangaroo, Howdy Doody, and Romper Room.

I regularly see the last 5 minutes of PBS’ Word Girl because it’s on right before BBC World News. I swear one of the voices is Lisa Simpson, but I never manage to read the credits.

Anyway, with characteristically caustic wit, Tony hits so many shows, I’m wondering if he’s not developing a new addiction. The image of Bourdain on the floor with a two-year-old, lapping this stuff up, is enough to give hardcore fans nightmares. Maybe it’s his way of preparing us for Sardinia on September 14, where we meet the in-laws. Or perhaps he’s researching a new book: How to Raise a Really Snarky Kid.

The Web once again was quiet, but I found two blogs that seem to be trading on Tony’s fame. (Before you say it, no, I don’t. Cats Working is his accidental reviewer and biographer and he’s well aware of it.)

Team Camwell engaged in what I’d call bold-faced hijacking. After writing a gratuitous, gushy introductory paragraph revealing how little they know about Bourdain (He’s a “world-famous chef?” He’s featured on Top Chef?”) they pasted Bourdain’s entire blog post about kid TV and didn’t give Tony a clear byline.

And this was bound to happen after Julie & Julia – but not in my kitchen. It’s Sophia and Tony. Sophia made (and photographed) his boeuf bourguignon recipe from the Les Halles Cookbook. It turned out great, but she ate a disgusting-looking frozen NutriSystem meal for dinner anyway.

Somehow, I don’t see book and movie deals in her future.

Passing the Kennedy Torch: Who’s Next?

August 30, 2009

By Yul

Cats Working has been mourning the death of Senator Edward Kennedy. He was a dog person and behind getting Bo into the White House, but Karen asked me to write a Yulology, because any friend of Obama is a friend of mine.

I hope in Ted’s honor Obama grows a spine on healthcare and helps Ted posthumously realize his lifelong dream of affordable access for all Americans.

Kennedy always sided with the little guy, marched to the beat of progress, and tried to make the world a fairer place for everybody, even when Republicans made empathy and generosity seem like sins.

He never got discouraged or distracted by the nuts who kept screaming, “Oh yeah? But what about Chappaquiddick?” to derail anything he tried to accomplish. If Ted had one thing in spades, it was perseverance.

Ted’s generation was raised to embrace public service, but it didn’t trickle down so well to the next one — probably because they saw a father and an uncle get mowed down in their primes for trying to do some good.

At Ted’s services, in that mob of Kennedys, I didn’t see anyone reaching to pick up his torch. Sure, Caroline half-heartedly vied for Hillary Clinton’s Senate seat, only to reveal she’s not cut out for public office.

The next liberal “lion of the Senate” won’t be a Kennedy. It will be John Kerry, who is now Massachusetts’ senior senator. Like Ted, he doesn’t have to worry anymore about running for president. I predict he’ll be the one who lights a fire under Obama on healthcare.

Remember, you read it here first.

Cats Working welcomes Senator Kennedy to Virginia, where he’ll be spending eternity at Arlington National Cemetery. Rest in peace, Teddy.

Florida Taxpayers Ordered to Foot Cat Killer’s Defense

August 26, 2009

By Cole

Judge John Thornton has ordered the state of Florida to pay $12,500 for alleged serial cat killer Tyler Weinman’s investigation and defense in a trial that could involve more than 100 witnesses. Prosecutors didn’t object, so let’s hope they’re sitting on some solid DNA evidence.

Weinman faces 19 felony counts of animal cruelty and improper disposal of animal bodies, as well as 4 counts of burglary, after he allegedly mutilated and murdered trusting pet cats and tossed them back into their front yards earlier this year. All the killings occurred in the two communities where Weinman shuttled between his divorced parents — coincidentally, whenever he was in town.

The LA Times reported that Weinman tried to make a deal before his arrest by confessing to some killings in exchange for lesser charges. Why would a completely innocent kid do that? Police decided to arrest him after he described too enthusiastically how a cat’s skin sounds when it’s peeled from its body.

Since being released on bond in June, Weinman has been under house arrest with a monitoring ankle bracelet. His grandfather is putting up $50,000 for his defense and helped post the $249,000 bond that sprang him from the slammer.

This family is sinking everything it has to prove the unemployed 18-year-old dropout they love is innocent. If they succeed in getting him off on a technicality, let’s hope he doesn’t show his gratitude by disemboweling and skinning them.

Anthony Bourdain Visits Marlboro Country – Smokeless

August 24, 2009

By Karen

While still blissfully unaware of the brutal flak in store for him after his domestic travels this season (except, notably, from Detroit), Anthony Bourdain headed to Montana for this week’s new installment of No Reservations.

Champagne Living provides the full episode summary from Ingrid at Room214, as well as the video promo.

Tony’s latest blog entry reveals he’s in recovery from a heady, yet harrowing, visit to Panama, which will air next season. It appears that our Tony has bid adieu to summer vacation and is hard at work again.

Cats Working reader Cindy has been telling us about the sale of the Travel Channel, but here’s some scoop from the New York Times. Every article about the deal is illustrated with Bourdain’s photo because the LA Times reports that NR draws 900,000 viewers, where TC’s prime-time audience typically runs about 485,000. Tony’s quite a catch, but we already knew that.

I’ve got a bone to pick with Travel Channel myself. It’s like they know I missed the Street Food episode because their schedule is packed with reruns of Greece and French Polynesia and everything but, just to spite me.

Inspired writing about Bourdain was lacking in the blogosphere last week, but I dug up a few tidbits…

Jeff Houck at The Stew posted an open letter inviting Tony to Tampa, since he’s making an appearance in the neighborhood in January. Winnipeg Bob, take notes.

A View from the Kitchen ran a poll on who would be most welcome back to Cleveland, and Bourdain won in a landslide over Rachael Ray and Guy Fieri — but, in fairness, the electorate consisted of only 26 voters.

Voodoo Kitchen posted a weird, one-question interview with Bourdain about the future of restaurants. Didn’t reveal if he actually talked to Tony or did a copy-and-paste job.

I watched the season premier of Top Chef last week and, without the prospect of Bourdain dropping by to judge this season, I couldn’t bring myself to care about anyone in that personality-free mob of 17 contestants. How about you guys?

Not Playing Discover Card’s Games

August 19, 2009

By Karen

Because Discover Card’s sliver of 1% rebate is an insult to incentives, I seldom use it, but it has become my most annoying credit card.

Since the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility, and Disclosure Act of 2009 gave issuers until next year to nail customers to the wall before it takes effect, I’ve been watching my cards.

The last time I used Discover to keep it active, I was inundated with phone calls beseeching me to use it more, not to mention almost daily shipments of “convenience checks.” Then I got a nice letter that began…

We want to thank you for participating in our FREE 5% Cashback Bonus® program and remind you how easy it is to make your money worth More.

Just use your Discover® Card at home improvement stores, department stores, and clothing stores from 04/01/09 until 6/30/09, and get 5% Cashback Bonus on up to $400 in purchases.”

Sounded good. I stopped reading and skipped down to the table laying out the 5% bonuses for each quarter of 2009.

I charged something at Home Depot in June. No 5% bonus. OK, maybe a system glitch. No big deal.

In July, the rebate switched to gas, so I used Discover for a few tanks. Again, no 5% bonus.

This time I called Discover, and learned I have to sign up every quarter. This is a chore I can live without.

I’ve had this stupid card since 1988. If Discover wants to increase my Cashback on certain purchases, fine. But don’t expect me to perform quarterly maintenance.

The Discover rep told me the enrollment gimmick is for marketing research. After 21 years, now I’m a guinea pig.

The rep granted my full gas rebate ($1.24) and enrolled me in this quarter’s 5% program, but all bets are off in October. So Discover is banished from my wallet indefinitely, and they can keep the loose change as my gift.

Owner Disses Cat’s High School Diploma

August 18, 2009

By Yul

Oreo, a 2-year-old cat in Macon, Georgia, completed her studies at Jefferson High School Online with the financial support and encouragement of her owner, and now he’s dissing her diploma.

Oreo likes to stay on top of current events, too. (Photo - Kelvin Collins)

Oreo likes to stay on top of current events, too. (Photo - Kelvin Collins)

Her owner is Kelvin Collins, the prez and CEO of the Central Georgia Better Business Bureau. Apparently, Collins helped Oreo complete her studies only as a stunt to prove that such diplomas are worthless.

He’s basically saying a school has to be a special kind of stupid to graduate a cat.

The nerve.

I’m sure Oreo, who was rescued from a ditch as a kitten, is justifiably proud of her achievement. How many human 2-year-olds can compose essays about their life experiences?

If you want to talk about stupid businesses, our late brother Rex had his own credit card. Credit was so loosey-goosey, First Card offered Karen another card in anybody’s name without any other information. So she got a card for Rex.

Soon, the mailbox was crammed with offers from American Express and many others, clamoring to give Rex more credit. He even started getting calls from telemarketers.

First Card raised his credit limit several times, even though he never charged anything. It was only when Karen ran into some problem with the account and got jerked around and, in a fit of pique, informed the company that one of their cardholders was a cat, that they cut Rex off.

But Oreo did the coursework in good faith and I think her owner should show her a little more respect. Giving her a new automatic litterbox as a graduation present was a good start.

She also got 15 minutes of fame with MSNBC, and CatsWorking just extended it to 16.

Congratulations, Oreo!

Anthony Bourdain’s Paunchy Physique is the New Chic

August 17, 2009

By Karen

Anthony Bourdain seems to wear all his shirts untucked these days because he’s sporting a paunch, but who knew he was a trendsetter? It’s even got a name.

In “It’s Hip To Be Round,” in the New York Times last week, Guy Trebay revealed that Tony’s look is called the “Ralph Kramden” among Brooklyn boys.

(Photo - Paul Wellman)

(Photo - Paul Wellman)

Bourdain’s charms are apparently wearing thin with sfist, who turned Tony’s own San Francisco blog words against him.

Speaking of San Francisco, here’s a clip cut from the episode of Tony sampling absinthe and foie gras vodka for breakfast. Did he learn nothing in Paris? The Examiner provides more info on the strange distillery.

Serious Eats collected many amusing comments about Tony’s allegedly chronic state of inebriation through the whole episode.

Rochelle at Sexy Girls Eat had an accidental encounter with Tony at PDT in New York, and TV Squad has sprung to Sandra Lee’s defense.

On tonight’s new episode of No Reservations, Tony travels to Bangkok, Thailand. Ingrid at Room214 says he and the crew get caught up in “political upheaval…protests, violence, and uncertainty.” Sounds like Beirut. Bourdain hooks up with another runner-up from his fan contest, a Muay Thai fighter named Eric Rivera who may get a lot of footage, possibly for Tony’s wife Ottavia, who studies martial arts.

Tough as he’d like us to believe he is, Tony seems to be going out of his way to make sympathy rounds among his contest’s also-rans.

Since he knows his fans like to see him suffer, tonight’s highlight may be watching Tony harvest cockles while waist-deep in mud in the Gulf of Thailand.

To: Health Insurance Reform Opponents

August 12, 2009

By Yul

Obama has stumbled into a vortex of insanity while battling the forces of greed in healthcare. To anyone who has, or plans to, act up at town hall meetings, let’s talk about you for a minute…

Since you don’t think anybody needs affordable health insurance, I’m guessing you already have it yourself. And you got it at work. And your employer negotiated with a few insurance companies, without any help from you, to get the best deal. Then it was handed to you.

You had no say in picking your insurer. Oh, sure, you may have been given a couple of choices, but your employer made the choices.

Lots of companies choose HMOs because they’re cheaper, but only if you see doctors in the network. So you don’t really get to choose any doctor without paying through the nose out-of-network.

Since your employer probably subsidizes your premium to keep you from going into sticker shock, you mooch off someone else to avoid paying full price.

If you’re young and healthy, you may not realize this yet, but your insurance doesn’t cover everything. Just wait until you get real sick and your doctor recommends some promising, yet still experimental, treatment that could probably save your life. Your insurer will probably deny the claim — ration your care.

So what’s your beef with Obama trying to help others get decent healthcare through the government without all the games? Unlike you, they’d pay for it entirely themselves, and insurance companies wouldn’t have power over life or death.

You must be a special kind of stupid if you think anybody in Washington is cooking up “Death Panels” or planning to euthanize old people. Those ideas might have floated in the PREVIOUS administration, when life was cheap. Remember? It’s no coincidence that the people spreading these incredible lies worshipped the last administration.

Unless you have dealt directly with an insurance company to buy your own policy, and you pay for it entirely on your own, you have no clue what this debate is all about. You’re a sheep taking marching orders from liars and revealing yourself to be ignorant, selfish, and cruel.

In the end, you won’t win. Evil never does. This fix needs to happen.

Verizon Strikes Again, Comcast Strikes Out

August 11, 2009

By Karen

After more “rate creep” by Comcast to almost $90/month for plain vanilla cable, Verizon bundled FIOS phone and TV for a few bucks more than I now pay for phone alone.

Verizon needs to work on their “Wait from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. for us to show up” policy, but the FIOS TV installation August 10 was seamless, thanks to Mike, a friendly technician from Indiana.

But on my phones, Verizon screwed up in classic mode. I just wanted my dedicated fax line merged into my main line with distinctive ring, retaining the fax number.

No problem, Verizon said. We’ll disconnect the fax line August 10, and reconnect it as distinctive ring August 11. They said it involved another service call, so I’d have to spend a second day waiting between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.

No so, said Mike. That’s a remote switch. He even rearranged my phone jacks and reprogrammed my fax so I’d be ready. Then he called Verizon to confirm the phone work, and they told him my fax line had been disconnected since August 4.


He gave me a number to call and verify the phone work, and that’s when things got interesting.

The first Verizon rep kept me on hold for half an hour before telling me I couldn’t keep my fax number, even though it was still available.

So I asked to be bumped up and got a nice woman who said I could keep my fax number. She even offered to switch it to distinctive ring on the spot, but the work order for August 11 was apparently set in concrete.

I just checked it, and my fax line works, so the switch was made. There’s just this little nagging mystery of why that line was disconnected a week early.

Verizon FIOS TV leaves Comcast in the dust. I never knew my TV could have such a clear, crisp picture. FIOS lets you access Internet information with widgets, even though I have Clearwire Internet. Accessing On Demand takes mere seconds. And Verizon threw in some free HBO so I can catch up on Season 2 of True Blood.

Superior TV for $80 less, but there are tradeoffs. We’ve lost our beloved horse racing channel, and I can no longer fax and talk on the phone simultaneously. But to dump Comcast, it’s worth it.

Overdue For My Next Bourdain Fix

August 10, 2009

By Karen

Anthony Bourdain does San Francisco on No Reservations tonight, and I better not miss it like last week’s Street Food special. My DVD recorder had a malfunction.

Even worse, Verizon comes today to switch my TV to FIOS (Your latest rate increase was your last, Comcast!), and Verizon better not screw it up. Both episodes are airing tonight back-to-back and if I don’t capture them, life won’t be worth living.

Just kidding!

Lots of advance buzz on San Fran. Ingrid at Room214 says Tony stuffs his face with interesting things non-stop, and Sand Dollar Adventures has a few words about Ingrid.

SFoodie ran a “Why I Love Bourdain” essay contest last week. I liked this winning entry, which claims that Tony doesn’t “exotify” food. A vegetarian reveals how Bourdain converted him with an oyster. Another fan calls Tony the “anti-celebrity chef.” Excellent description. And here’s a poem.

An SF bartender relates his conversation with Bourdain in — where else? — a bar.

Remember when Cats Working reader Petunia told us she thought Tony is doing voiceovers for Glad storage containers? I haven’t seen the ad yet, and no one has confirmed it, but now another one has surfaced — in Singapore. The Certified Pinoy Blogger wonders if Bourdain is really endorsing chicken rice or if someone’s using his likeness without permission.

And remember all the flak over the Rust Belt episode dissing Baltimore and Buffalo? Well, ModelD offers some tweets on Bourdain’s visit to Detroit and there’s not one kvetch about how he done ‘em wrong.

Scott D Parker in Houston reveals sort of a man-crush on Bourdain by concocting his own version of, “I travel. I write. I eat. And I’m hungry for more.”

Here’s an off-the-wall item: Variety compares Bourdain to fellow reality series Emmy nominees, comedian Kathy Griffin and Dog Whisperer Cesar Millan, and they each give their theories on their success.

And even weirder, Sandra Lee would like to have Tony over for meat and potatoes and cocktails.

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