Cat Predicts Kentucky Derby Winner

April 29, 2010

By Adele

Eskendereya, the Kentucky Derby favorite, got scratched last weekend after injuring his left front leg, throwing the race up for grabs. The new favorite seems to be Lookin at Lucky, who pulled the No. 1 post position with jockey Garrett Gomez.

The second popular choice is Sidney’s Candy, running far outside in post position 20 under Joe Talamo.

I’m not betting my treats on either of them.

It’s supposed to rain in Louisville on May 1, so the track could be swampy, making the race a free-for-all where any horse has an opportunity to make history.

I predict the winner will be American Lion.

American Lion (Photo - Gambling911.com)

The Lion will be in No. 7 position (the spot of 8 winners since 1900) under David Flores. In 6 career races so far, Lion has won 3, placed in 2, and come in 4th in one.

The Illinois Derby was his last race on April 3, and he won it with Flores. That was just 3 weeks after his 4th-place finish, so the horse knows how to bounce back from defeat and comes to Churchill Downs with the thrill of victory in his hooves.

The Lion’s father was Horse of the Year, Tiznow, his grandfather was Storm Cat, and his great-great-grandfather was Secretariat. Cats occupy many branches of his family tree, and I see that as a good omen.

Plus, he has the perfect name for a Triple Crown winner.

In 2009, remember when Mine That Bird came out of nowhere to win the Kentucky Derby as a 50-to-1 longshot? I predict American Lion will roar across the finish line as this year’s new surprise superstar.

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Bourdain Meets Another Cats Working Reader

April 28, 2010

By Adele from Chicago

“This is just like 1981 when no one could get Rolling Stones tickets and somehow you found them,” was how my friend Linda reacted when I told her I snagged last-minute VIP tickets for Anthony Bourdain’s April 24 appearance in Chicago.

Just after 8 p.m., Tony, wearing jeans, a tee shirt, blazer, and tan boots, took the stage to enthusiastic applause. He said we were one of his largest audiences yet and launched into his tale of meeting Sandra Lee, embellishing his blog account. His imitation of Ottavia’s stunned look was particularly funny. His wife took mixed martial arts, could throw a punch, has no problem telling other women to keep their hands off her man, and he’d have been grateful if she’d run interference. But Ottavia stood stock-still and let Sandra grope Tony’s waist, tug his ear, and say, “You’ve been a bad, bad boy.”

He talked about the Food Network getting rid of every trained chef except Bobby Flay. Tony imagined Bobby, whom he thinks has talent and some decent restaurants, getting called on the carpet by FN brass. They tell him, “You poll as cynical and inaccessible, so to stay here, you’ll have to go around the country having throw-downs, competing with local cooks on their specialty dishes.”

So now it’s OK for Bobby to stay in the FN family because yokels can brag, “Ah beat Bobby Flay with my chili.”

Then Tony gave us a look as if to say, “Yeah, and it’s not rigged at all.”

After a bit more FN-bashing, Tony observed that since Scripps Howard recently bought the Travel Channel, he was working for his former masters and feared if he didn’t stay in line, he might be forced to do a bikini wax on Paula Deen.

Mentioning Scripps brought him to their new product placement policy. “I know how much you all love that,” he said, noting how he was castigated all over the Internet for not keeping things real. Thanks to TIVO and DVRs, he pointed out that commercials aren’t watched much, so sponsors place products within shows to get consumers’ attention.

“What’s real, anyhow?” he asked. “Was I more real when I was selling books to get crack? Was I more real when I was hitting up my mother for cash to buy drugs? Was I more real when I was standing in a kitchen turning out meal after meal for people I didn’t care about?”

His implication was, I think, that we all have to serve somebody.

He urged people to get passports and experience other cultures, but cautioned on the necessity of showing respect and wondered why certain Americans pack their tackiest clothes to travel, like tee shirts with logos and slogans. He mentioned the 19-year-old American girl he saw in the Blue Mosque, wearing a tube top with “her jugs hanging out the bottom,” Daisy Duke shorts, that left nothing to the imagination about her nether cleavage, and 6-inch Lucite heels. She looked “more like she was ready to give hand jobs under the West Side Highway than visit one of the holiest places in Istanbul in the holy month of Ramadan.”

With regard to hospitality, Tony advised us to “accept indigenous beverages and local meat.” Although he draws the line at eating pets and has almost always had a shelter cat in his life, he said, “If the head man of a village has rolled out the red carpet for me and serves me a plate of puppy heads, I’m eatin’ the f*#%in’ puppy heads.”

Tony said he thinks food blogging is a good thing. But after his “Techniques” episode, bloggers complained that “Jacques Pepin used a fork in a nonstick skillet and left eggs runny in a omelet, and Thomas Keller didn’t wash a pepper mill after seasoning the inside of a chicken.” Since these guys are the best in the business. when they tell you how to make a French omelet or roast a chicken, “Shut up and listen.”

During the audience Q&A session, where my fellow Chicagoans kept the stupid questions to a minimum, someone asked how he had the nerve to pose with that bone in My Last Supper. Tony said it was the result of getting drunk with the photographer.

Asked to recommend a culinary school west of the Mississippi, Tony couldn’t and said there are too many culinary schools giving subprime loans and promising everyone they’ll become a chef. “If you’re 32 and decide to change careers by attending culinary school, don’t.”

He said he was grateful that Kitchen Confidential was such a success because at age 44, he was practically a dinosaur on the line.

The tattooed stalker was mentioned, and Bourdain admitted that when the guy showed up in Minneapolis, it really freaked him out.

Someone asked if Scripps told Tony and ZeroPointZero they had only one more episode to shoot, where would it be? After thinking a minute, Tony answered, “Spain,” and explained that when A Cook’s Tour ended, they had begun filming, “Decoding Feran Adria,” and Food Network thought the show was getting too cerebral. Tony and his crew finished the episode and used it as a calling card to get the No Reservations gig. It all began with Spain, and it should end with Spain.

The finale came when Tony summoned some guy up on stage, who went up with a woman. He got partially down on one knee and proposed, citing NR as what brought them together.

Tony wished them well and said he’d accept no responsibility if things didn’t work out. He said when he married Ottavia 11 days after Ariane’s birth, the Manhattan city clerk who droned the words looked up once to ask, “You’re on television; aren’t you?” and then resumed the ceremony.

Linda and I got in line to meet Tony at the VIP reception. When I introduced myself and gave him a children’s book for Ariane. He said, “Ah, Adele from Cats Working,” and inscribed my copy of No Reservations: Around the World on an Empty Stomach to “Adele” with “Cats Working” inside his signature knife drawing. He graciously thanked me for Ariane’s book and posed for pictures with us.

A bit later, while Linda and I were having a glass of wine, I checked my camera and discovered the picture of Tony and me hadn’t come out. The crowd was thinning and I caught his eye. I must have looked rather pathetic because he asked, “What’s wrong, Adele?”

I told him about the photo, and he posed with me again. We stayed to talk and I asked Tony about the Cuba shoot.

He said that for the last three years, something always went wrong, either in Cuba or or the U.S. NR segments need to be set three weeks in advance, so thanks to bureaucratic snafus, the plug got pulled every time.

Of Liberia, he said he had a hard time figuring out how to write about it, being honest without conveying overwhelming despair. And he got really sick there. He thinks Liberia has the beginnings of what it would take to make things right, but it’s been so messed up for so long, it’s hard to know when they’ll make real progress.

Someone else asked him about endangered sharks, and Tony said it was almost strictly due to the market for sharks’ fins throughout Asia, where they’re valued as aphrodisiacs. He’s tried shark’s fin and said it was OK but has an odd texture, and seemed to dismiss it as a love drug. He hold us he’d used back channels to contact Paul McCartney, urging him to invest a few million in Viagra and Cialis, send it to Asia, and save the sharks. He didn’t say if he’d received a reply.

Linda and I left soon after that, and Chicago’s wind and rain couldn’t dampen our happiness as we kept asking each other, “Can you believe this evening?

(Note: Adele misplaced her camera cord. We’ll post her photos when she finds a way to send them.)


Is Bourdain Stalked by a Tattooed Freak?

April 26, 2010

By Karen

On April 24, Cats Working reader Adele (human, not feline) met Anthony Bourdain after his appearance in Chicago. She promises to tell us all about it, but in the meantime, last week wrapped Season 6 of No Reservations and proved extremely full.

April 19 was the Bourdains’ wedding anniversary. Tonic.com reported on the April 20 Can-Do Awards Dinner to benefit the NYC Food Bank  they attended. Emeril Lagasse was the special honoree and the event raised $1.4 million for hunger relief.

On April 21, Tony visited Borders’ HQ in Ann Arbor, Michigan, talking to Merchandising about his upcoming book, Medium Raw. Makes me wonder if there’s extensive book tour in the works.

In advance of his April 23 appearance in Minneapolis, Pioneer Press got an advance phone interview.

Star Tribune also talked to Bourdain in an interview titled, “Bad boy and mellow fellow.” Seems Tony has changed his mind about his last meal.

City Pages provides a run-down on what Bourdain discussed in Minneapolis, and mentioned the heavily-tattooed possible stalker who joined him on stage and dropped his pants.

Chicago Tribune got an excellent interview with Bourdain before his appearance there April 24. Tony admits he’s “burnt out” on 20-course menus and intriguingly mentions his future Vietnam book as just a “hope.”

Personally, I’d advise him to go sooner rather than later for Ariane’s sake. My parents uprooted me at ages 10, 14, 15, and 17 and it was rough. Let Ariane help Dad satisfy his yen for Southeast Asia by middle school so she can find friendships that will last through high school and beyond. Losing that opportunity can be a real bitch later in life.

Chicago Business got another interview.

Saint Tigerlily loves Bourdain, but Les Halles Cookbook, not so much. She made his coq au vin and meticulously details what went wrong.

And while we’re ripping Bourdain a new one, NY Restaurant Examiner Howard Portnoy takes serious issue with Tony’s very existence and his views on food bloggers.

The Little Things invokes Bourdain in discussing the new Scripps Cooking Channel, set to debut May 31. The Stir has just the opposite opinion.

Tony’s take on the new network was mostly positive, as reported in the Washington Examiner: “What’s worse, another network about food, or another network filled with steroid-jacked reality freakazoids?”

Eater.com again collected Tony’s best one-liners from the Food Porn 2 finale.


Cats are Faster than SuperComputers

April 23, 2010

By Cole

And this is news?

Some engineer named Wei Lu at the University of Michigan is trying to build a computer as smart as a cat, because computers that already exist aren’t.

This new computer will have the capacity to remember and learn, which cats do effortlessly. It only takes one trip to the vet to learn we hate him, and we remember it every time you get the cat carrier out of the closet.

Lu said, “The cat brain…is much simpler than a human brain but still extremely difficult to replicate in complexity and efficiency.”

If that statement were true, then why haven’t humans got us all figured out yet? Why are some so baffled by our “inscrutable” feline ways that they get dogs?

Massive, sophisticated supercomputers with more than 140,000 CPUs and dedicated power can do certain tasks with the brain functionality of a cat, but they’re still 83 times slower.

Ask any mouse which he’d rather be chased by, a computer or a cat. No contest. That rodent knows he’s going down with a cat on this tail.

Here’s a fascinating story of a cat named Sasha who ingeniously used hair scrunchies to improve her dry food.

I bet Cats Working readers have a lot of stories about how cats are smarter than computers. Let’s hear them.


Top al-Qaida Leaders Killed — Again

April 21, 2010

By Yul

How many times do the “2 top al-Qaida leaders” have to get killed before they stay dead?

When are people going to realize that al-Qaida regenerates like a gecko’s tail? It grows new heads every time you cut one off.

And what happened to that Bush-era deck of cards with pictures of the top 52 bad guys? Did they all ever get captured or killed or, like Osama bin Laden, were the ones who got away quietly swept under the rug in hopes everybody would forget about them?

I must confess that I have such a hard time keeping the names straight, and the equally difficult nicknames they all seem to have, I can’t keep track.

Oh, great. While writing this, I just discovered another leader bit the dust.

Joe Biden called all this a “devastating blow” to al-Qaida. Yeah right, Joe. Until next Tuesday, when they have the new management team in place.

Now that we’ve supposedly got al-Qaida “on the run” and the Iraqi army is getting so adept at killing — after many years of being the only ones over there who weren’t — why should Obama wait until August to withdraw our troops? Let’s bring our soldiers home now and let the Iraqis have at it while they’re on a roll.


Bourdain & Zimmern: The Odd Couple

April 19, 2010

By Karen

No Reservations wraps up Season 6 with another special, “Food Porn 2,” with guest (porn) star, Ron Jeremy. That name drew a blank with me, but crew member Nari writes about meeting him.

Room 214’s preview says Tony will eat pho in Vietnam — again — and flit around New York City sampling a variety of high- and low-end delights.

Veronicahhh roundly panned the Provence episode for the way the food was handled, but missed the point that the “local family” she found dull were close kin to Tony’s BFF in foie gras, Ariane Daguin.

Don Cazentre of The Post Standard spoke to Bourdain by phone before his appearance in Syracuse on April 22. Tony revealed he’s still haunted by a certain armadillo.

Stephanie March at MSPMag.com snagged an interview with Tony before his April 23 appearance in Minneapolis for their “Living Legends” series. He said he and Zimmern have a lot in common.

And the honors keep piling up. Bourdain’s work has been nominated for two Webby awards —his blog and Alternate Universe — and it looks like he needs our help to win. Come on, Cats Working readers. Show your support!

Last time I checked, his blog was trailing the leader by only one point. Vote here.

Alternate Universe was also running second. Vote here.

Andrew Zimmern did an interview with Gadling.com and said he would marry Bourdain. His other choices were to screw him or kill him, so I guess that indicates a certain affection.

On April 24, Cats Working reader Adele will be in the audience at Tony’s Chicago appearance and has promised to report back next week with any new information she can gather. Stay tuned!


The Great Cat Food Rip-Off

April 15, 2010

By Yul

Did you know that if your cat eats grocery-store dry food, you might as well be feeding him cookies?

Cats are obligate carnivores, yet our dry food is almost nothing but carbs, fillers, and preservatives. Owners have been brain-washed to believe that if the package says “Nutritionally Complete,” the food is nutritious.

WRONG.

Purina One was our brand until I had a brush with diabetes last year and got switched to prescription Purina Dietetic Management. It’s 51% protein and 15% fat, my two favorite things.

I also stopped getting Friskies shredded canned food with gravy (I only licked the gravy), and now eat only certain ground Fancy Feast varieties (beef, chicken, salmon, turkey & giblets) with negligible carbs.

Within 3 weeks, my blood sugar was well within normal range and has stayed there. My fur is softer, too.

Cole and Adele weren’t left out. They now eat Blue Buffalo Wilderness Duck Recipe, the highest protein Karen could find at PetSmart — 40% with 18% fat — and no wheat, soy, or corn. Their fur is also softer, and Adele’s itchy skin allergies are slowly clearing up.

To figure out how good any dry food is, add the percentage of protein and fat together. What’s left is moisture, carbs, and other garbage. The lower the remainder, the better.

Karen just paid $50 for a 12-lb. bag of my DM, and 11 lbs. of Wilderness runs about $34. We eat less because they’re more filling, but she shouldn’t have to take out a second mortgage to feed us.

Such foods are nothing less than cats need to be healthy, yet the manufacturers market them as something extraordinary and price them like they’re freaking caviar.

It’s unconscionable.

Obama wants people to have affordable healthcare. I demand affordable, healthy food for cats!


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