Talking with Rachel Alexandra, Horse of the Year

January 29, 2010

By Adele

Rachel Alexandra finally agreed to a phone interview from New Orleans where she’s training, after learning she beat her arch-rival, Zenyatta, as Horse of the Year.

Adele: Congratulations, Miss Alexandra! I was worried Zenyatta would be the sentimental favorite, since she lost to Curlin last year and was supposedly retired.

Rachel: Call me Rachel. I hear you, Adele. We were both undefeated but, not to brag, I won 8 races to Zenyatta’s 5, broke a couple of records winning by 20 ¼ lengths and 19 ¼ lengths, which was ridiculous. Those other fillies barely left their stalls. And I was the first filly to win the Preakness since 1924, and the first filly ever to win the Haskell, and the first 3-year-old filly to beat older guys running a mile-plus in the Woodward Stakes.

Zenyatta ran against the same horses she always beats until they put her up against males in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Big deal. I’d already beaten colts 3 times.

A: Everybody was disappointed that you and Zenyatta never raced each other. Did you hear she’s coming back as a 6-year-old? That means there could still be a match-up, and they’re talking about the Apple Blossom at Oaklawn on April 3.

R: Bring her on! If Zenyatta’s willing to get her hooves dirty on a real track instead of that fake stuff she loves out in California, I’d be happy to settle the “best horse” question once and for all.

A: You won the Preakness, the second Triple Crown race, and beat the winners of the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont, Mine That Bird and Summer Bird, respectively. I think that makes you the Triple Crown winner by default. Do you wish they had entered you in all three races so you could have earned the title for real?

R: Hadn’t thought about it, since I was busy winning races. But, gee, since you put it that way, I’m bummed. I felt bad beating Mine in the Preakness and crushing his big dream — with his jockey on my back, no less. It would have been preferable to win the Derby so he never got his hopes up. Mine’s a nice guy. So’s his brother, Summer.

A: I guess that means the rumors you tried to gain an edge before the races by freaking them both out pretending there was a love triangle are false?

R: Rumors? It’s no secret I’d be game anytime for a little ménage à trios with the Bird brothers. They’re hot! Racing is just our job.

A: They’re hot, but slow.

R: Well, yeah. I can out-run them with one hoof tied behind my back, but speed isn’t a necessarily good thing in boyfriends.

A: What do you do in the off-season?

R: Get my mane done. Have a pedicure. Watch Mister Ed reruns. I’m not much for reading.

A: Did you hear that Curlin, last year’s Horse of the Year, just had his first foal, a filly?

R: Yes. He and his chick Zophie have asked me to be her godmother.

A: Are you looking forward to the new racing season?

R: Sure. At this point, my only career options are racing or making little horses. I’d rather colts be chasing me than have one on my back. I’m not ready to settle down.

Juries Could Use More Cats

January 27, 2010

By Cole

Justice is looking up, now that a cat has been invited to participate in the process. This ground-breaking development happened in that cradle of progressiveness, Massachusetts. (Well, not so progressive since it turned red last week.)

A gray and white cat named Sal from East Boston has been summoned for jury duty.

Sal’s owner, Anna Esposito, thinks it’s because she named Sal on a census form. It was only asking about dogs (why?), but she wrote in “Cat” and Sal’s name.

Anna tried to get Sal disqualified from serving, but some brilliant jury commissioner denied her request. If Massachusetts law is like Virginia’s, if Sal doesn’t appear at Suffolk Superior Court on March 23, he could be held in contempt and face arrest.

To keep Sal out of the slammer, Anna says she’ll let Sal have his day in court, if necessary.

The joke will be on the commissioner if the trial runs long and Sal decides he needs to use the jury box for another purpose.

Any perp who gets Sal as a juror should be grateful because it will streamline the trial. The lawyers must keep their arguments snappy or Sal will tune them out for a catnap.

In the deliberation room, the other jurors can get mellow by petting Sal’s soft fur and reach a verdict without bickering over any evidence. Sal himself won’t pussyfoot in casting his vote if he smells a rat.

Unfortunately, Massachusetts doesn’t have the death penalty, which cats have always found it the most efficient way to keep vermin off the streets. But who knows? Today a cat on a jury, tomorrow a cat on the Supreme Court.

Anthony Bourdain’s Packing Plastic

January 25, 2010

By Karen

Tonight on No Reservations, Anthony Bourdain visits Brittany. I wonder if he’ll be buying anything on credit?

Under the revealing subhead, “Things We Hate,” Food Network Humor lit into the blatant, poorly-executed plug for Chase’s Sapphire card during Bourdain’s visit last week to Istanbul, even speculating that a stunt hand was used to proffer the card.

Stunt hand, hell. The CARD was a blank phony!

I give Bourdain a pass on this because he’s obviously doing the bidding of his cruel masters. But any more gratuitous Sapphire shilling shoehorned into NR risks sending Bourdain’s cred down the crapper and turning the card into a running joke.

Travel Channel, you’ve been warned.

Personally, I think Tony would be wise to start endorsing products of his choosing in other venues. He’d get my attention during those annoying network breaks that keep getting longer and more frequent.

But I do have a “fish to fry” with Tony in Istanbul for calling those who recoil from beheaded marine life “punk-ass loser Americans.”

That would describe moi.

I’d try durian or haggis, but I draw the line at sucking a fish skull. This aversion may have originated while I swam in Lake Erie as a kid and found them floating all around me.

But in the end, I must say, “Touché, Tony.” I had it coming after some unkind things I’ve said about the lovely Ottavia. But now we’re even, so watch it. (Just kidding!)

Daily Blender reports on the fabulous Cayman Cookout. The welcome reception alone makes you understand why Bourdain blew off the Tasty Awards, even if he did have to temporarily don chef’s whites again. Tony’s pricey Hawaiian shirt also made an appearance, and he wrote about the Cookout himself.

The second episode of Alternate Universe, “Romania Rhapsody,” has arrived, and Tony reveals sides of Zimmern and Samantha Brown they’d never let us see on TV.

Bite Club Eats caught Bourdain’s appearance in Santa Rosa, California, on January 13 and provides some highlights.

Tony did a phone interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinal before his January 22 appearance.

June 8 is the release date for his new book, Medium Raw, and it will retail for $26.99.

NOTE: The cats are running the show the rest of this week but cannot respond to comments. Being a ruthless computer despot with final approval over their writings is the only shred of control I have over them.

John Edwards Comes Clean. Now What?

January 22, 2010

By Adele

Two years too late for the innocent toddler who’s had no dad, John Edwards has finally admitted that 2-year-old Frances Quinn Hunter is his love child. Not that anybody cares.

What is surprising is that a guy who fostered such an open, squeaky-clean, boy-next-door persona could turn out to be such a duplicitous douchebag.

Elizabeth Edwards has reportedly come to her senses and split from the rat, now that he’s settled his new family in their own house in Charlotte, N.C., reportedly worth more than $500K.

Rielle Hunter’s shameless scheme to bag a rich, powerful man actually helped the country dodge a bullet. Edwards didn’t hesitate to pile lie upon lie to cover his slimy tracks. He risked wrecking staffer Andrew Young’s marriage by having Young claim he was the baby daddy, he asked Young to get some quack doctor to fake DNA results, and then to steal a dirty diaper so Edwards could do his own secret testing.

If Edwards suspected that Hunter was sleeping around, that makes him a liar with execrable taste in tarts, and you have to wonder if, as president, he’d have routinely resorted to such idiotic, juvenile machinations to deal with the nation’s problems.

And now Edwards is belatedly babbling the truth (maybe), trying to upstage Young’s new book, The Politician, which is probably contains lots of juicy details.

Edwards seems on on track to marry Hunter once Elizabeth is history. It’s bound to be cheaper than forking over nearly $18K a month to the home-wrecker, who apparently thinks her destructive skills should be richly rewarded.

Massachusetts Peed on Ted Kennedy’s Grave

January 20, 2010

By Adele

…And then spit on it, electing Republican Scott Brown to take Ted Kennedy’s seat in the Senate. But if Teddy’s watching, I think he realizes Massachusetts did the country a favor.

If Scott Brown can keep 30 million more Americans from being bilked by greedy health insurers, more power to him. Teddy would approve.

Obama let Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi run health system reform off the rails. Nobody knows all the secret deals and loopholes they’re hatching behind closed doors, but what we DO know bears no resemblance to the equal-opportunity, quality healthcare Kennedy envisoned. It’s all about buying insurance policies.

As long as Congress thinks for-profit insurers are the fix, billions will continue to be squandered on maintaining their worthless existence, instead of making every dollar intended for healthcare GO TO HEALTHCARE.

What part of that doesn’t Obama get?

Congress thinks a gullible public believes that insurers will meekly let the crap be legislated out of them. Everybody knows the cost of ANY law that even nibbles at insurer profits will be passed on to customers — just like the credit card companies.

And insurers won’t hesitate to get more creative in skirting legislation that keeps them from canceling sick people, denying claims, and dragging their feet on payment until their customers are dead and insurers get to keep the profits.

Ted Kennedy should be smiling down from heaven on Massachusetts, proud that they may have sent Congress back to the drawing board and stopped Obama from desecrating Ted’s dream of healthcare for all.

A Cat’s Advice to Jay Leno

January 19, 2010

By Yul

Any “comedian” who needs the cover of darkness and a semi-conscious audience to be funny is a loser, so I have no dog in the fight NBC started between Jay Leno and Conan O’Brien. But like everybody else, I’ve been watching.

Conan O’Brien gets 3 tails up for his feline reaction to NBC’s treachery. Instead of licking their hand and meekly letting them kick him past midnight, he’s outta there.

Jay Leno doesn’t wash as the innocent victim. OK, maybe NBC did yank him off the Tonight Show and set him up to fail with a more-alert audience at 10 p.m. But Leno letting Conan go down and grabbing Tonight back is just two wrongs not making a right.

Sure, Conan will reap millions, but that’s what happens in a breach of contract. He’d be a schmuck to say, “OK, NBC, forget our agreement and let’s just part friends.”

Leno’s saying Conan is a “great guy.” Not good enough.

Leno should “retire.” It’s not as if he needs the job.

NBC’s clueless suits have made many bad decisions and dissed their talent. They deserve to scramble to fill a now-empty time slot.

I suggest a new format. Instead of having some jerk deliver lame jokes and chit-chat, they could murder someone in the first 10 minutes. Then guests would solve the crime and try the perp. They could call it Law & Order: Tonight.

Even though I’ll probably never watch him no matter where he goes, I wish Conan O’Brien good luck.

Leno, grow a spine. Go away. Write a book. Then make your triumphant “comeback” to TV in a few years.

Where Isn’t Bourdain These Days?

January 18, 2010

By Karen

No Reservations visits Istanbul, Turkey, tonight. No advance showing was offered, but Wendy at Room 214 tells us Anthony Bourdain begins his visit with a hangover after over-indulging on the plane. (Tony, no! Such a rookie mistake!).

He samples the local cuisine, including a “throbbing missile of love” — meat on a stick — and tools around town with a freakishly knowledgeable cabbie named Ishaan.

Fine, but then Room 214 jumped the shark, offering bloggers an autographed Anthony Bourdain calendar for writing about this episode and sending the link and their mailing address to Wendy.

Quantities are limited, so post now!

Gentle Cats Working readers, I’ve never made a penny off this blog, and I’m not about to start shilling for Travel Channel for freebies. I know this wasn’t Tony’s idea, but I’m just saying, in case he ever wonders if I took the bait. No, I didn’t. I reserve the right to say later that I hated the episode, if necessary.

Julie Van Rosendaal of Dinner with Julie was emcee for Bourdain’s January 12 Calgary appearance and wrote, bar none, the greatest, most personal and detailed account I’ve read yet of what Tony’s really like at these things. I’ve always imagined him highly pampered, surrounded by fawning toadies, but that’s not the case.

Here’s a great photo of Julie and Tony. He must have really liked her because he’s showing teeth, which he rarely does.

Kitchen Scraps got another photo of Bourdain’s at the Calgary book signing. Yup, the crewcut was a temporary aberration. Tony’s silver mane is back.

And the Calgary Herald interviewed the chef who cooked for Bourdain in Calgary. What’s this rumor that Tony won’t eat anywhere but in his hotel room?

Tony himself blogged last week about Panama and this and that, and asked for donations for one of Mario Batali’s employees who was horribly injured in a freak accident on a New York street.

I was thrilled to read that Bourdain intends to return to PARIS! That was my favorite NR episode ever.

Tony talked to Slashfood about NR’s new season and professed admiration for Ina Garten, with Giada de Laurentis coming in second.

Rebecca Langlais writes about Tony’s appearance in Lowell, Mass., on January 9.

Men’s Journal interviewed Bourdain for the Dec09/Jan10 issue, discussing a variety of things, including Tony’s attitude toward women.

Harvey Pekar, the offbeat comics writer who was featured in NR: Cleveland has nothing but fond memories of Tony at the end of this interview.

Uncouth Gormand attended the Tasty Awards in San Francisco on January 14 and reported that Bourdain was a no-show on his Person of the Year award, but filmed an acceptance speech and asked his producers to tell lots of dick and fart jokes. I’m thinking the Bourdains were already on their way to the (Grand) Cayman Cookout for the weekend. Can’t blame them.

Haiti’s Lucky Bill Clinton’s on the Case

January 15, 2010

By Yul

Reports from Haiti should make everyone jump up from their comfy sofas and make a donation to the relief efforts. Obama seems on top of the situation, but his reaction reminded me of the android Data on Star Trek: Next Generation.

While I’m glad the cat keeps cool in a crisis, a little unscripted human response to such widespread suffering wouldn’t have been amiss.

And although Obama says the U.S. will continue to help Haiti as long as needed, who knows what he’ll do if Republicans balk? I could hear them whining that Haitians should be able to pick themselves up by their own bootstraps, and to provide them free medical care right now would lead to socialism.

I could see Obama giving up on his monetary pledge in exchange for a truckload of blankets and still claiming his relief effort a big success.

For the sake of Haiti, thank goodness Obama tapped Bill Clinton to head up fund-raising and aid, with George W. Bush as his token sidekick.

Bill’s the only one I’ve seen on TV talking about Haiti. Bush is probably having a Katrina moment in Texas while Laura tries to pound into his head that Haiti’s in REALLY BIG trouble.

Clinton — talking off the cuff to NBC and CBS — came across so strong, reassuring, AND empathetic. Nothing dry or clinical about his descriptions of the suffering. He totally gets the urgency of finding survivors and stabilizing life for the now-homeless. But he’s also hopeful about how quickly Haiti will recover with continuing help, because he says they were already on the right track when they were knocked flat.

I hope Obama has been taking notes.

PS: The William J. Clinton Foundation Web site makes it very easy to help. The Red Cross is also accepting donations.

Will Sarah Palin Out-Fox Fox?

January 13, 2010

By Adele

Since quitting her pesky governor’s job, Sarah Palin has used Twitter to stay in touch with her base, publishing lots of incoherent criticism with no solutions.

So Fox Network thinks she’s qualified to be a crackerjack news analyst. Apparently, they’re unaware that her post-election strategy for dealing with the news media has been to bash it or hide from it.

On the other hand, Fox’s target audience hates current events tainted by truth or facts, so hiring Palin may just work — until she gets into a snit or receives a better offer and quits.

Palin made her official Fox debut last night on The O’Reilly Factor. While backhandedly fawning, Bill O’Reilly didn’t press for any facts, called his own questions “foolish,” and fed her insatiable ego by declaring, in his fair and balanced “no-spin” way, that other commentators are “pinheads” for doubting her abilities.

Palin came off more as a candidate than a pundit, refusing to take a good swing at any of the softballs O’Reilly kept lobbing at her.

She’s reputedly signed a multi-year contract, but her role is vague, possibly due to her tendency to go all mavericky when anyone tries to pin her down — like by electing her to govern Alaska.

In addition to spewing her down-home-style fluff wrapped in clichés, she’ll also host an “occasional” series called Real American Stories.

Hmmm… “Real” would imply fact. Sounds like Houston already has a problem.

And since Palin says very little these days that’s not straight from her book, the repository of every thought she’s ever had (she referred O’Reilly to it several times), don’t expect anything original out of her — unless you count lies. Like her never-ending insistence that Obama plans death panels (see 12/22/09 10:29 a.m. tweet). It was selected the biggest political whopper of 2009 by voters on the St. Petersburg Times’ non-partisan fact-checking site, PolitiFact.

I’m guessing Palin cagily negotiated with Fox a hefty non-refundable salary to be paid up-front, so when she bails mid-contract — and you know she will — she can just take the money and run.

Bourdain’s on the Road Again

January 11, 2010

By Karen

Season 6 of Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations begins tonight in Panama. I saw it online last week and exclaimed almost immediately, “WTF! He got another one??!!

I’m talking tattoo — BIG tattoo — right forearm. Then his left forearm. They kept appearing and disappearing, keeping my eyes glued to them.

Their presence was explained by the end of the episode, but they sure wreaked havoc on continuity.

Season 6’s promo theme is, “Which will it be? Nice Tony or Evil Tony?” Is that supposed to allay fears that Bourdain’s gone soft?

His Web site got a face-lift and they managed to reformat the episode schedule to make it utterly useless. (Thumbs up on the season recaps, though.)

On January 9, Tony spoke in Lowell, Mass. Cats Working reader Cindy found this pre-show phone interview. Tony’s appearing on Ariane’s favorite show, Yo Gabba Gabba.

The profane Anthony Bourdain doing children’s TV. What next? An F-bomb-spewing Vic Chanko puppet on Sesame Street?

Tony is in Calgary, Canada, on January 12. The Calgary Herald got an e-mail interview.

On the 13th, Bourdain’s speaking in Santa Rosa, California. The Press Democrat phoned him and Tony confided a “grudging respect” for — are you ready? — Guy Fieri. He also said they plan to shoot NR in Rome in black and white with subtitles, like a Fellini film.

This coming weekend, he’ll be barefoot on the sands of Seven Mile Beach at the Cayman Cookout, but apparently not before accepting his Person of the Year honor in San Francisco January 14 at the Tasty Awards, hob-nobbing with Meryl Streep, who won an Outstanding Performance award for her amazing portrayal of Julia Child.

The Daily Fork gave Tony only honorable mention on its annual list of sexiest culinary celebs, while the burger-blowing Padma Lakshmi from Top Chef made #5. Must be a guy thing.

Tony discussed his evolving fan base before his appearance in Lakeland, Florida, on January 8. I like to think he oh-so-obliquely acknowledged the existence of the Cats Working ladies.

Blog of New Orleans scored an advance interview before Bourdain’s January 7 appearance there and somehow managed to make it dull.

Tony was in Portland, Maine, January 2 – in a snowstorm – eating seafood for a NR episode set to air April 12.

Bangor Daily News reported Bourdain enjoying hot dogs and beans in Milo, hometown of crew member Zach. They said Tony’s next stop is Cuba.

I’ve got to quit now. His January travel schedule has my head spinning, and he’s still got a few more stops to make.

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