Le Duo Des Chats

December 31, 2009

By Yul, Adele, and Cole

To close 2009 on a positive note, we at Cats Working wish you the best in the new year and hope you’ll kick it off with a smile after enjoying this beautiful musical interlude…

“Profiling” is Not a 4-Letter Word

December 29, 2009

By Yul

Inept “Tighty-Whitey Bomber” Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab is lucky he didn’t try to blow up a plane full of cats. Rather than being escorted to First Class, he’d have remained in Coach, a hunk of bleeding meat with a smoldering crotch and his eyeballs rolling down the aisle.

When faced with such a threat, a cat’s instinctive reaction is, “Shred now, ask questions — never.”

But thanks to the kindness of human strangers who did American taxpayers no favor by not snapping this punk’s neck, Umar is sitting in a nice cell, getting 3 squares and his burned nether regions tended to, while the wheels of justice spin aimlessly.

Meanwhile, in airports worldwide, innocent people are being stripped of their possessions and dignity to ensure they’re not the next Umar.

Airlines almost banned carry-on bags — like they need more checked bags to damage or lose. Some flights were making everybody sit still and idle in their seats for the last hour, like zombies.

They’re one small step away from declaring airports nude zones, banning luggage altogether and making everybody fly naked. Or, for maximum security, flying the planes EMPTY.

I’ve been watching sheeple on TV who are willing to tolerate any delay (“To avoid missing your flight, arrive the night before and sleep on the floor at the security checkpoint.”) or any indignity (“Spread ‘em, Grandma!”) to make flying safer.

To that I say, “Hairballs!” Enough’s enough. You’re missing the point.

Airlines and TSA, review the rogues’ gallery of past terrorists. Is there one woman, child, infant, or guy named Joe Smith among them?

Instead of worrying about offending nut jobs by singling them out, the only sensible way to deal with them is to profile like mad, and don’t stop with strip searches. Probe EVERY orifice.

Maybe if the next terrorist wannabe knows for certain that a Doberman will fixate on his naked crotch while a burly security agent named Bubba jams a broomstick up his ass, he’ll just stay home.

Bourdain Sank My Bearnaise Debut

December 28, 2009

By Karen

I still don’t feel like a foodie, but Anthony Bourdain has been eating away at me like a Chinese water torture. It’s been impossible to watch and read as much of his work as I have and dodge osmosis. I’ve been letting certain things creep into my kitchen, like sea salt and peppercorns, udon and soba noodles, memmi, and real cranberries. In just 2 years, my cranberry relish from scratch has already become a Wormald Thanksgiving tradition.

Guided by Cats Working reader Adele, I’ve roasted a whole chicken stuffed with herbs and lemon, with butter rubbed under the skin. If you had any idea how upsetting I find headless, hollowed-out birds with bumpy yellow hides and their guts in a bag, you’d know what a milestone this was.

Just last night, I morphed disparate Christmas Eve leftovers into a delectable pizza.

Thanks to Tony, I’m getting culinarily creative and it’s working!

…So my mother made this roast beef for Christmas Day and was complaining that no grocery store stocked béarnaise sauce in a jar. With Bourdain-inspired bravado, I scoffed, “How hard can it be to make from scratch?”

I Googled some recipes, and they ran the gamut of complexity. But one labeled “Never-Fail” contained only butter, egg yolks, tarragon, a microwave, and a blender.

I figured I could make it in a pan over low heat and skip the blender cleanup.

I went to my parents’ house for dinner prepared to amaze them with my béarnaise — until I unwrapped the Christmas wish they’d fulfilled — Bourdain’s Les Halles Cookbook. I immediately flipped to his béarnaise recipe on page 252 and made the mistake of reading this note from Tony aloud:

Note: Know this. If you haven’t made béarnaise from scratch before, you will surely fuck this sauce up.

The room was quiet until my mother finally mumbled, “That’s OK. Never mind. We don’t really need it,” and we ate the beef naked.

But I swear, Tony, I’m gonna do it — as many times as it takes to get it right. And I’m gonna try some other recipes from your book. When they film Karen & Tony, I want Julianne Moore to play a thinner, prettier, younger me and George Clooney to be you.


Yesterday, Tony wrote an Op-Ed piece called “Foodie Nation” for the New York Times. I think I smelled a whiff from his new book, Medium Raw.

Right after Morgan, Cindy and I met the Bourdains at the Capital Food Fight in mid-November, they were headed to Miami with Eric Ripert. Reader urbanjoanna found a few great pictures from their weekend in the sun. It’s the best photo of Ariane yet. At only 2 ½, she seems to be showing signs of Dad’s height.

Chowhound has Maine abuzz with rumors that Bourdain will be visiting Rockland in January to film No Res. Maine in January! What’s he thinking?

But at least on Friday, January 15, Tony will be basking in the sun at the (Grand) Cayman Cookout, giving a talk on Seven Mile Beach. Saturday evening he’ll be at Calico Jack’s, also on the beach, to man the grill with Eric Ripert for a barbecue. On Sunday he’ll help judge a cooking competition for local chefs, and that evening will pitch in to prepare a 7-course dinner with all the other celebrity chefs (last year he skipped that event). It’s already sold out.

And the honors just keep rolling in. PressDemocrat.com has named No Reservations one of the top 10 reality-based TV series of the decade.

Only 2 weeks to go until Season 6 of No Reservations premiers on the Travel Channel January 11.

Yul Puts the Yule in Christmas

December 22, 2009

By Cole

The no-kill joint where I grew up always had so many animals, holidays were like any other day for us. This is my first Christmas in my own home, and nothing could have prepared me. Actually, nothing could ever prepare anybody for Christmas with Yul.

It’s tradition that Cats Working cats have their own Christmas stockings, and Karen makes them special. She embroidered this one for me herself:

Because Yul was adopted from the joint on December 21, 1996, his stocking got last-minute iron-on letters, but this year, Karen gave him an upgrade:

Now all our stockings are beautiful and Santa Kitty can’t miss them.

I thought getting my own stocking was great, but it was only the beginning. Karen decided to go all out and put up the big Christmas tree. She loads it with sturdy cat ornaments, which started when a previous cat named Rex playfully smashed nearly 2 dozen glass ornaments his first Christmas and pooped tinsel.

No more tinsel. Now we have garland.

At 13, Yul remembers lots of fun Christmases, so he couldn’t resist supervising assembly of what would become our shiny 7’ tree-shaped cat toy…

“The screws for the stand must be in here somewhere.”

After Yul showed Karen where to put every branch, he was proud of their accomplishment.

“See? It’s as easy as licking your whiskers!”

Next came the ornaments. We cats each get our own special ornament (me, too!), and Karen hung them all together, right in front…

Clockwise from top right: Rex, Fred 1993, Yul 1996, Cool Cat Adele, another Adele, and Yours Truly 2009 in the center.

Here’s the tree when Karen and Yul were finished decorating…

Yul got really excited when he found THIS ornament, a favorite of his…

Fat Cat

Actually, there are 3 identical Fat Cats on the tree. Karen placed 2 near the bottom because Yul will stop at nothing to get what he wants. Adele tells me he has tipped the tree over in the past. It took Yul no time to claim the object of his desire…

And to decide that Fat Cat looked hungry after several years in storage and offer him a square meal…

Meanwhile, Karen was arranging silk poinsettias in a pewter pitcher on the kitchen table. Yul loves flower arranging, so that’s what he tackled next, giving the festive centerpiece his own personal touch — literally…

Yul says flowers are best admired up-close and sideways.

From one of my favorite observation posts — a beam across the living room — I politely admired the decorations on the balcony. Unlike Yul, I don’t have to get paws-on to appreciate things.

Once she had the house all decked out, Karen went shopping and brought home a whopping early Christmas surprise. Let me preface this by saying that our blue 4-tier kitty perch has been a fave of mine since I overcame the new-cat jitters and started hanging out downstairs with everybody. It’s about 5’ high, so no one can sneak-attack.

Unfortunately, sharing the perch became a turf issue with Adele. Things improved a little when Karen returned downstairs the kitty condo where I holed up for my first 3 months here. Adele was happy to get that back and has been gracious about sharing it with me…

But Karen thought everyone might be happier with another high perch. Naturally, Yul was on it before she could even remove the price tag…

Yul says, “First cat to shed on it owns it!”

From our old perch, I watched Yul demonstrate how to climb into the “crow’s nest” through a little hole in the bottom.

Yul says, “Nothing to it. Piece o’ tuna, Kid!”

Adele had to try it next. “Seniority,” she told me.

I’m chomping at the bit (uh, at the bottom) for my turn.

Finally, nobody was around and my big chance came to check out the crow’s nest for myself. I’m King of the New Kitty Perch!

Wow, this is a lot higher than it looks!

Karen moved the old perch to the other end of the room. Adele and Yul seem to prefer it there.

Sometimes they look like an old married couple, don’t they?

The new perch is now sitting next to my favorite chair, but I share it with everybody. It’s the only way to survive around here.

Yul says, “Kid, first kitty come, first kitty served.”

As we anticipate the arrival of Santa Kitty, Yul keeps fiddling with the tree, rearranging ornaments, garland, and lights…

“All the best decorators know that a few ornaments on the floor and droopy garland lend casual elegance.”

Sometimes, Adele doesn’t appreciate Yul’s efforts and lets him know in that no-nonsense, direct way I recognize all too well…

“Ow, Adele! Get a manicure! Your talons could use a trim!"

Now there are lots of presents under the tree, and Yul says some have my name on them. What could they possibly be?

Yul says, “I peeked, but it's fun to keep the kid guessing.”

Adele and Yul tell me the best is yet to come. On Christmas morning, we will open our presents, have a breakfast of Fancy Feast® Elegant Medleys, get stoned on ‘nip and nosh on Temptations® treats while we watch Video Catnip. It’s the feline version of It’s a Wonderful Life.

I feel blessed that Karen recognized my potential and selected ME — not a cute little kitten, but a grown-up cat with some emotional baggage — from my dozens of cellmates, and gave me this wonderful life. So I’m leaving all the mischief and destruction to Yul because he’s well-known for it and I don’t want to blow it.

The whole gang at Cats Working — Karen, Adele, Yul, and I — wish all our readers a Merry, Coley Christmas!

Yul needs to show me how to wear this thing with panache.

A Bourdain Holiday Smorgasbord

December 21, 2009

By Karen

Anthony Bourdain is putting the finishing touches on his next book, Medium Raw: A Blood Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook. Cats Working reader Cindy found an e-mail interview at Grub Street that mentioned, as of December 14, Tony was in Vietnam again. House-hunting, perhaps?

Tony looks dapper in coat and tie — although I wouldn’t say “amused,” as Grub observed. In a subtle homage to Ottavia, notice that Tony holds the boning knife so his wedding ring is clearly visible.

Here’s one for the “Call Me Confused” department: The San Jose Mercury News ran an undated video clip of Bourdain eating street tacos in Oakland, California, to introduce a brief December 16 interview with John Wenzel from the Denver Post that said he’d spoken to Bourdain by phone in New York.

Wait a minute! Tony was supposed to be in Vietnam on December 14. I can’t keep up. If Star Trek transporters ever go mainstream, Bourdain will probably have one in his living room.

The interview was blah and inspired comments that centered on nothing but whether Bourdain really said “Myanmar” or “Burma” as a place he’s intrigued by, but reluctant to visit.

Tony got unwittingly dragged into this truly disgusting nugget, uh, McNugget. The McNuggetini is a cocktail made with said mystery meat, barbecue sauce, and vanilla vodka. Alie Ward, one of its creators, says, “It’s like Anthony Bourdain meets Martha Stewart on crack.”

If she knows anything about Tony’s position on all things McDonald’s, trying to link him to her awful concoction takes irony to a new level.

The Ninja Priest tries to improve on Tony’s recipe for boeuf bourguignon by including some helpful tips. (After discovering that used copies of the Les Halles Cookbook are scarcer than cat thumbs — I’ve asked Santa to bring it to me to make my collection of Tony’s tomes complete.)

At Rachel Ray Giveaway (which probably has no actual affiliation to Ray, since it misspells “Rachael”) there’s speculation on who would win in hand-to-hand combat, Tony or Rachael. The last time I checked, Bourdain was kicking Rachael’s ass in the comments in many ways, though some observed he’d never really physically attack a woman.

Mike Hale at the New York Times picked his top 10 favorite TV shows, and declared No Reservations “still the only show in the food-and-travel category that doesn’t make me want to throw things at the host.”

If you’re into caricature, Eating the Road has Bourdain’s likeness in an interesting gallery of food personalities.

Cats Working wishes the Bourdain family — Ottavia, Anthony, Ariane, and Lupetto — a very Merry Christmas!

Congress Makes Health Insurers’ Christmas Merry

December 18, 2009

By Yul

Senator Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) tried to introduce a bill for single-payer healthcare to Congress, only 700 pages, compared to that 2,000-page monstrosity Harry Reid loves.

Why so short? Because Sanders omitted 1,300 pages of loopholes to protect drugmakers, insurers, and every other leech feeding off the healthcare system.

Republicans killed Sanders’ bill by calling for all 700 pages to be read before debate began. Nobody could sit through it, not even Sanders. In his withdrawal speech, he ripped everybody a new one.

And whiny Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) became the tail that wagged the dog to protect his insurance cronies, single-handedly killing the chances of Medicare or an affordable public option for people 55-64.

Merry Christmas, Hartford insurers! Keep those bribes coming!

And some joker named Ben Nelson from Nebraska is trying to make it all about abortion to keep women barefoot and pregnant.

At every turn, Reid and Obama just cave and say, “OK, we’ll just cross out whatever you don’t like.”

So far, nobody’s screamed to cut perks for the industries that created this mess. In fact, drugmakers just got the ban on foreign imports continued so the sky’s the limit on drug prices.

Merry Christmas, Eli Lilly!

Have you noticed how quiet the insurance lobby has been lately? That’s the sound of gloating. Insurers will find 30+ million new customers to bilk under their Christmas tree. And as fast as Congress can backpedal to prohibit insurers’ heinous discriminatory practices that will kill and financially ruin more Americans than ever, insurers will stay one step ahead with new ones. They always do.

The only way to fix people’s insurance problems is to eliminate insurers. Until Obama and Congress admit it, there’s no fix for healthcare.

Dogs Better Than Cats? Ha!

December 16, 2009

By Cole

New Scientist published the results of a clearly biased study concluding that dogs are “better” than cats. I claim bias because they not-so-cleverly chose more categories dogs could take. Here they are:

Brains Cats
Shared history Dogs
Bonding Dogs
Popularity Cats
Understanding Dogs
Problem Solving Dogs
Vocalization Cats
Tractability Dogs
Supersenses Cats
Eco-Friendliness Cats
Utility Dogs

In the end, it’s HUMANS who look bad. If dogs are better, why would people have 204 million pet cats in the top 10 cat-owning countries, compared to only 173 million dogs among dog-lovers?

The U.S. alone, which was No. 1 on both lists, has 76.43 million pet cats compared to 61.08 million dogs.

If scientists counted puddles and piles of poop dogs leave for people to step in, they’d probably conclude that dogs outnumber cats by far.

So where’s Neatness and Hygiene on the list? Cats would win because we don’t think the world’s a bathroom, and we never need baths because we never smell nasty like — dogs.

And how about Good Taste? Unlike some dogs, we don’t consider cat poop a snack.

Discernment? Dogs only seem to bond with humans more readily because cats don’t befriend jerks. Kick a cat and he’ll leave, but a dog keeps coming back for more.

Maturity? You won’t see a cat leaping around and drooling with excitement at the sight of a leash.

Consideration? Cats don’t waste humans’ time letting them teach us undignified tricks like shaking paw, rolling over, or playing dead. We also don’t stoop, with longing gazes full of pain, into guilting humans never to leave the house. Instead, by ignoring their comings and goings, we make them feel confident they won’t be missed.

Cuddlability? If you had to choose between petting a Persian or a pit bull, which would it be?

I rest my case.

Bourdain Spends Holidays Under the Radar

December 14, 2009

By Karen

This week’s Bourdain research yielded little except a few personal appearances for his 2010 calendar. Ottavia said at the Capital Food Fight that her parents were maybe coming over from Italy for the holidays, so I hope they did and the Bourdains and Busias are all spending quality family time together with no cameras around.

Ottavia might like some of these fan comments I found on Yelp. Someone who saw her on No Reservations in Tuscany and Sardinia calls her a “little cutie.”

I happened upon this blog post by Zamir in the NR crew blog after he filmed the Rust Belt episode. He only got 13 comments, so I’m thinking a lot of people missed it.

Cats Working reader Cindy uncovered the first 3 episode of No Reservations Season 6. Tony will be in Panama on January 11, Istanbul on January 18, and Brittany on January 25. I was unable to uncover the rest of the lineup myself.

Four more weeks until our next fresh Bourdain fix…

Nobel’s a Cardigan Event for Michelle Obama

December 11, 2009

By Adele

The Obamas traveled to Oslo this week so the president could accept the Nobel Peace Prize, and it started out promising. Michelle wore a beautiful dress and matching coat in that putrid yellow-green only she can pull off. The ensemble was designed by Calvin Klein, no less.

But under that elegant coat lurked the insidious cardigan. It was by Nina Ricci and it matched, but it slopped down the whole outfit.

Notice the tailored look of the woman in purple behind Michelle (Photo - Bauer Griffin)

Michelle, Michelle, what were you thinking? Let me crawl inside your head…

“Hmmm… We’re going to Norway in December and we’ll be meeting the King and Queen. I think I’ll pack something sleeveless and just throw on a sweater.”

At least we can be grateful she showed some restraint and left off the belt.

Stylelist follows Michelle’s fashion evolution, clearly showing that when she looks good, she looks very, very, good (photos 2, 3, 5, 7, 24, 34, and particularly 8 and 29 — very Carla Bruni-Sarkozy). And when she looks bad, she looks horrid.

I can live with the belts that match the color of the outfit (photos 4, 6, 11). But that huge black belt over the turquoise coat? Yuck!

Here it is close-up at another event.

Lately, Michelle seems to be weaning herself from studs in favor of width. In this belt, she’s going for the Roman gladiator look.

All she needs is a spear and a shield to complete the ensemble. (Photo - Kevin LaMarque/Reuters/Corbis)

Essence has a gallery of Michelle belt photos. She must have a walk-in closet full of them.

Here’s some video of Michelle’s style. The best belt shots start at about 2:30.

American Flag an Eyesore Around Richmond

December 8, 2009

By Yul

When Virginia makes national news, it’s usually over something embarrassingly stupid, and the current flagpole stink is no exception.

If you missed it, we have this 90-year-old Medal of Honor recipient named Colonel Barfoot who fought in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. He flies the American flag from a flagpole in his front yard. But his subdivision, Sussex Square, has a no-flagpole rule.

Apparently, they deem flagpoles unsightly, offensive destroyers of property values. Looking at Barfoot’s house, all they see is that filthy flagpole with its garish stars-and-stripey rag flapping at the top. The sight burns their eyes and makes them want to vomit.

I’m betting a lot of people there keep monstrous SUVs sitting in their driveways that could be mistaken for their houses when parked near the mailbox. But that’s OK.

Today’s Richmond Times-Dispatch (which supports Barfoot) used ink it usually devotes to complaints about Garrison Keillor to run letters from Illinois, Maryland, Indiana, Massachusetts, and Texas, all supporting Colonel Barfoot. Virginia’s governor, Tim Kaine, thinks the controversy is “ridiculous.” Obama’s press secretary, Robert Gibbs, has said he thinks it’s “silly” that a veteran of 3 wars can’t have a flagpole.

The 2 local letters the RTD chose to print both said (and I paraphrase): Screw Barfoot. We don’t care how many times he risked his life to defend the country. Rules are rules and he should obey.

Since the Civil War, some Virginians seem to think it’s their duty to always fight on the wrong side.

Cats Working applauds Colonel Barfoot’s cat-like refusal to conform. We hope he sticks to his guns.

And here’s a little something for Sussex Square to show them how to herd cats:

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