Oscar, the Kitty with Fake Feet

June 29, 2010

By Cole

Since Yul is all about politics and oil in the Gulf these days, I’m covering the black cat beat. In October 2009, 2-year-old Oscar the cat was dozing in the sun on his farm in Jersey, England, when a combine ran over him and severed half of his back legs.

Oscar’s owners brought him to veterinary surgeon Noel Fitzpatrick in Surrey, who installed metal prosthetic pegs in Oscar’s stumps. Oscar’s body accepted them; skin and bone grew into the implants until they were solid.

Some engineers fashioned little fake feet, but they were beige, so Fitzpatrick covered them with black tape to make them match the rest of Oscar.

Once he screwed the feet onto the pegs and Oscar woke up, he was walking and climbing like a pro. Watch his first steps.

But I’m thinking that stupid tape ruined the feet because Oscar’s now sporting a different pair that are more cat-like and white, like mine.

Oscar the Bionic Cat (Photo - Newsoxy.com)

Here’s video of Oscar walking on them. He really is one cool cat, and this technique is being explored for use on humans.

Are You Up for Bourdain’s “Medium Raw” Challenge?

June 28, 2010

By Karen

Publisher HarperCollins has created a Web site called “Anthony Bourdain’s Medium Raw Challenge,” and has him asking for 500-word essays that answer the question, “What does it mean to cook food well?” Readers will be able to vote for their favorite, but Bourdain will select the winning piece, and it will be published in the paperback edition of Medium Raw.

Top Chef began its 7th season in Washington, DC, two kicked-off chefs ago, and Bourdain clearly shows up in a promo, seemingly with Buzz Aldrin, so it looks like fans’ prayers for his return have been answered, and the cheftestants will be feeling the sharp edge of his tongue again.

Medium Raw is sweeping the country. It sits at #4 on Publishers’ Weekly bestseller list, #2 with the NY Times, and #3 with the LA Times.

Tony got a nice write-up in the July 5 issue of People magazine. It includes a family portrait with Ottavia and 3-year-old Ariane. Ariane is adorable, but what happened to her curls? In the table of contents, there’s a picture of Tony in his kitchen, and I was blown away by how tiny it is.

Bourdain continues to do lots of interviews to promote the book, and the book is getting widely reviewed, but unless I come across some new or particularly entertaining slant, I’m not going to keep going there.

In the “Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery” department…

Food Network has launched a book club. Their first (and probably last) book is — Medium Raw. Now, if you’ve ever doubted Bourdain’s contention that FN’s dumbed-down programming may be beneath the intelligence of its viewer base, check out the comments and the forum. Cats Working readers kicked their ass when it came to discussing the book because we actually read it.

Maybe some day they’ll tear themselves away from watching Rachael, Sandra, Paula, and Guy to peruse a few pages and stop fixating on FN logo merchandise giveaways.

Seattle Weekly has a great 8-picture slideshow of Bourdain’s appearance there on June 22, revealing the playful side we don’t often see. Don’t miss FrankenTony in #3.

Jackie Writes did an excellent illustrated run-down of Bourdain’s Seattle appearance.

Diabetes Care would like Bourdain to add some disclaimers about unhealthy eating when he overindulges on No Reservations, and for Emeril to perhaps provide fat and calorie counts on his dishes. I can’t speak for Emeril’s audience, but I’m thinking NR viewers already get that Tony makes no claim to being health food’s poster boy.

Bourdain turned 54 on June 25, and The Village Voice thoughtfully supplied a list of 10 gift ideas, as well as the infamous “boner” picture of Tony in his birthday suit. Their #1 suggestion? “The street cred he pawned off in the last two seasons of No Reservations.” Ouch.

Cats Working reader Pegu in Canada provided a link to a radio interview Bourdain did on “Q” for CBC. Go to the June 16 broadcast.

Obama Talks to Karzai RE: McChrystal

June 24, 2010

By Yul

So Obama accepted Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s resignation (which the media generously calls a “sacking” to boost Obama’s new bad-ass image), and Gen. David Patreaus is going in. They said Obama called Afghanistan president Hamid Karzai to deliver the news, so imagine me as the kitty under his desk, secretly listening in…

Obama: Hi, Hamid? Barack here.

Karzai: Ah, Mr. Obama. A thousand felicitations. How are you?

O: Could be better. I’ve got BP holding on the other line, so let me get right to the point. I’m calling because there’s been a slight change of personnel in our efforts to turn your country into a Western-style Muslim-hating, God-fearing Christian nation.

K: Are you referring to my friend, Stan? The one who talked to that American magazine. What is it? Rock and Roll?

O: Rolling Stone.

K: Yes, that’s the one. I was just reading it. Stan and his men, how do you say it? — they drilled you a new one, ha, ha! — but they really seem to like Hillary.

O: (Tone turns icy) General McChrystal did not live up to the high ideals I expect in a seasoned military professional who carries out, without question, whatever orders I give. It’s the cornerstone of our democracy, so McChrystal had to go.

K: So, you’d rather prove to the whole world that you have thin skin, can’t take a joke, and let some hippie magazine determine your foreign policy? And you call me weak? You should lighten up, my friend. Life’s too short — you’d know that if you lived here.

O: Sorry, levity is out of the question, Hamid. I’ve got a lot of things on my plate and my hair is getting grayer by the minute. I don’t need any trash-talking general bad-mouthing me and Biden, so I’m replacing McChrystal with General David Petraeus.

K: The Butcher of Baghdad?

O: No, that was Saddam. Patraeus is a fine man. He’ll be a big help to you.

K: Can he be bought?

O: Of course not. He has utmost integrity, and I’d trust him with my life.

K: Then he’s no use to us. You might as well let him stay home. Oh, sorry to cut this short, Barack, but I’ve gotta go. I’m meeting the Taliban for lunch.

Will Obama Kick General McChrystal to the Curb?

June 23, 2010

By Yul

UPDATE: OK, so Obama has left me wiping egg off my face, but we still don’t know for sure if he “ousted” McChrystal as some news sources are saying, or if McChrystal resigned. Either way, I think Obama screwed up and stand by my following prediction for the fallout.

I’ve gotta write this fast before Obama makes an announcement and you think I’m Monday morning quarterbacking, but no, I don’t think Obama will fire Stanley McChrystal or ask for his resignation. He’ll settle for some private ass-kicking and public humiliation, and then send McChrystal back to Afghanistan. That’s punishment enough.

What other choice does Obama have? McChrystal’s already his second general in Afghanistan. Going to a third one will just make Obama look like he’s flailing.

And he can’t let Rolling Stone bring down one of his top generals.

This situation reminds me of the infamous soldier-slapping incident that brought down General George S. Patton. One thoughtless misstep and suddenly Washington thinks the whole man is no good.

It’s our national obsession with form over substance rearing its ugly head again.

Besides, McChrystal wasn’t the only one who talked trash. I can’t blame him or his senior officers, who have all spent plenty of time in Afghanistan, to have some disdain for Obama and every other clueless suit in Congress and the Pentagon who has let this fiasco churn for 9 years.

And if Obama fires McChrystal, you can just hear Sarah Palin and her Republican cronies:

“How’s that ‘No Drama’ thing workin’ out for ya? I guess now you know how it feels when the lamestream media gets its claws into ya. If you can’t stand the heat, shut off the toaster!”

And McChrystal’s got Afghan President Hamid Karzai and other Afghan officials watching his back. Karzai called him the “best commander” of the war, which really isn’t saying much, since Karzai’s a tool, but he’s all Obama has to work with.

And since Obama claims we’re on the verge of pulling out anyway, is it really worth breaking in a new general over there?

So, I predict Obama won’t repeat the mistake Truman made with MacArthur, and Ike made with Patton, and waste another perfectly good general.

Finding Cats Working Just Got Easier

June 23, 2010

By Yul

Dear Readers,

We bought the domain name, www.catsworking.com, when we started this blog, but Karen could never figure out how to get WordPress out of our address, so we just lived with being http://www.catsworking.wordpress.com.

Well, she just had a technological breakthrough and our new address is www.catsworking.com. (The old address still works, too.) Now it’s easier to tell your friends about us!

Working on a new post now. Stay tuned…

Bourdain is EVERYWHERE in June

June 21, 2010

By Karen

Well, everywhere but home much. Entertainment Weekly interviewed Anthony Bourdain about his new book Medium Raw. Lately, he seems to be embracing the image of himself “swimming in the pond” of the restaurant industry, but his interviews so often cover the same ground (not Tony’s fault), the readers’ comments are sometimes more interesting.

Grub Street got Tony to tell them everything he ate from June 5-10. It includes some typical usual high-end restaurant fare, but I enjoyed seeing what he eats at home. Egg sandwich with butter, anyone?

He let down his hair with SlashFood and was pretty entertaining. Worth a look.

I’m not sure where this bad review of Medium Raw originated because I found it verbatim and unattributed on various sites, but here it is at Almost Fearless. The reviewer disliked it for some of the reasons I put in kinder, gentler terms in our book club.

I’m still looking for your opinions of the book, by the way. Click the chapter you want to discuss under “Extras” in the sidebar.

In the interest of fairness and balance, here’s a favorable review from The Globe and Mail in Toronto.

The Boston Herald said the book “lacks cohesion,” but there’s still “much to enjoy.”

The San Francisco Chronicle basically liked the book, but thinks it reads “more like a collection of magazine articles and opinion pieces.”

SFGate had a sit-down with Bourdain, and he mentions that he thinks it was the over-abundance of palm products in Liberia recently that made him very sick.

Eater.com published a nice selection of short book review excerpts if you prefer, and concluded that reactions to Medium Raw have been “mixed.”

Tony did a video interview in mid-June about the book on the Fox affiliate in Atlanta. Politics didn’t come up.

Here’s another video clip with Good Day LA on another Fox affilitate.

Huffington Post got a video clip of Bourdain speaking at UCLA on June 16, and commenters debated over his description of some food as “low-end” and whether he said “ethnicky” (he didn’t).

Alan Richman (see Chapter 14) took another swing at Tony in The (Montreal) Gazette, calling him “a two-bit demagogue with a poison mind,” among other things.

NPR in Concord, NH, did a half-hour radio interview with Bourdain on June 16, and he takes listeners’ questions. He calls himself a college dropout (2 years at Vassar) and credits good high school English teachers with his foundation as a writer. If you haven’t read Medium Raw book, here’s an excerpt from “Lower Education,” the chapter on teaching his daughter the evils of fast food.

Bourdain appeared in Salt Lake City on June 19, and The Salt Lake Tribune reports he got a standing ovation from the audience of 1,200 as he walked onto the stage. During the Q&A, someone asked if he wanted more information about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Tony answered, “I’m beyond saving. It’s too late for me.”

Common Dreams reports that Bourdain is making a video to promote “Gumbo for the Gulf,” a houseparty fundraising effort of 150 events (and counting) in 28 states that began the week June 14 to support efforts to deal with the BP oil spill.

A few examples of my teeth/no teeth theory as a measure of how much Tony is enjoying himself were posted Nuño Meat Market and LAist.

PS: Bourdain turns 54 on June 25. Happy Birthday, Tony!

Let’s Lay Off BP’s Swedish Guy

June 17, 2010

By Yul

What I’m about to say may seem like a course reversal (which it isn’t) but I think the widespread condemnation of BP’s chairman, Carl-Henric Svanberg, for calling inhabitants of the Gulf “small people,” is just reinforcing the world’s opinion that Americans are a bunch of rubes.

The man is from SWEDEN. Sweden’s official language is NOT English. That means Svanberg is fluent in at least two languages. How many Americans (excluding Hispanics) can say the same? And if they know a second language, do they always speak it perfectly?

Any idiot can tell by the man’s name and accent that he isn’t from around these parts — or even England’s.

Going on and on about how awful it is to be called “small people” is just another example of our shallowness, our national obsession with form over substance. Reporters are fanning the flames of ignorance by capturing the average “American on the street” reaction.

On TV last night, I saw some Gulf coast resident still bristling from the snub say, “Well, I guess the guy isn’t of American descent.”

No, my friend. I bet we could go back just a few generations and find that YOU aren’t, either.

We all know what Svanberg meant. He’d just come out of a meeting where Obama probably mentioned “small business” many times. And when Svanberg first used the phrase “small people,” he was referring to Obama’s concern, not BP’s. See it for yourself. It’s his last comment at about 4:00.

Svanberg is the only BP exec I’ve seen whose tried to express a bit of genuine contriteness. He comes from a culture that not only believes in taking good care of its own — but does it. He’s ponied up $20 billion, not including clean-up costs, and suspended paying dividends, which is certainly going to piss off everybody else with a stake in BP.

At this point, short of plugging the leak, I think he’s pushing things in the right direction.

Obama, Abandon All Hope for the Gulf

June 16, 2010

By Yul

Smell that meat roasting? It’s Congress grilling oil executives.

Predictably, the slimy crooks testified they never, in a million years, would have dug a well as crappy as BP’s. Boy, were their faces red when someone pointed out their wells are all pretty much the same, and that they obviously copied each other’s Gulf contingency plans, right down to the part about ensuring the safety of non-existent walruses.

Meanwhile, on a still-pristine Florida beach, Obama was taking a stroll with governor Charlie Crist so pointless that he might as well have brought the wife and kids so they could also enjoy it before the tar balls and dead fish start washing ashore.

Only hours before he made his big speech to the nation about the spill, I think Obama could have staged a more compelling lead-in by wading ankle-deep in oil and picking up gunk the size of horse droppings while sucking up some fumes.

I listened, and Obama said some things right, but so what? Tough talk is moot. The ass he should have kicked was the oil’s — as soon as it started leaking.

Today Obama finally met face-to-face with the face we’re all sick of seeing — BP CEO Tony Hayward — and got BP to agree to pony up $20 billion for damages, to be administered by some lawyer, Kenneth Feinberg.

At least Obama didn’t ask Goldman Sachs to handle it. They’d have siphoned off half in fees so their executives could get nice Christmas bonuses this year.

But it’s too late to make things right now. Hundreds of millions of gallons of oil are doing their deadly worst, and we’ve got a president who wasted too much precious time naively trusting BP.

Instead of gratefully accepting international offers of help, for whatever reasons, Obama chose instead to dump the problem squarely in the laps of the region’s unsuspecting and ill-equipped population, and they’ve got to live — and die — with it.

Promising 2 months in to throw everything at the problem is too little, too late. “Everything” won’t cut it with BP expecting the leak to continue into August. Right now they’re preparing to burn the oil they’re capturing.

I guess the rationale for creating more pollution on a grand scale is, “If we can’t kill all the birds in the water or on land, let’s kill ‘em in flight.”

And you don’t hear Obama complaining.

Bourdain Takes “Medium Raw” on the Road

June 14, 2010

By Karen

Cats Working reader Morgan attended Anthony Bourdain’s reading from his new book, Medium Raw, on June 9 at Bookends in Ridgewood, NJ. She ran in to him in the hall before the event and renewed their acquaintance, which began last November at the Capital Food Fight in Washington, DC.

After his reading, when Tony signed Morgan’s copy of the book, she graciously asked him to make the Cats Working connection. Thanks, Morgan!

Morgan reports that the joint was absolutely packed. Filmiholic describes the same mob scene at Bourdain’s appearance in NYC the previous day when the book was released.

I came into possession of an autographed copy of the British edition myself (don’t ask), and the Brits seem to prefer their chefs more menacing. Check out the book jacket:

The back side has another photo of a more youthful, but equally creepy Tony.

Bourdain appeared on Rachel Maddow’s show on MSNBC last week and they talked only about the book, so the Tea Party should be tickled.

Here’s the promo video from his publisher, Ecco. What’s with the pointy hair?

Borders also did a promo video when he visited their headquarters in Ann Arbor, Michigan, on April 21.

Tony was also on the Today Show talking to Matt Lauer about the book. I Am A TV Junkie caught it. Click the link in his 3rd paragraph for the video.

Bourdain doesn’t usually blog between seasons of No Reservations, but he broke with tradition and put out a new post about his book tour.

If you’re reading the book, join our chapter-by-chapter discussion listed in the sidebar to the right under “Extras.”

And now, in the “Book Reviews are Like Assholes” Department (everybody’s got one)…

Here’s Time’s review of the book and an interview. They call Bourdain “the conscience of the culinary world.”

Time Out New York also reviewed the book and liked it, uh, not so much, saying…

“Though Bourdain shows that he is capable of writing breathtaking culinary travel pieces (see his rapid-fire descriptions of global delicacies) and can rip someone a new asshole in a much funnier way than most, the lazily constructed Medium Raw comes across like puke on a page.”

The Washington Post review was more positive…

“Still, it does seem paradoxical that Medium Raw is more like a bag of potato chips than a fine dining experience: Anyone who starts the book is liable to lose all control and simply gobble it right up. I certainly did.”

The Wall Street Journal sounded favorable, but didn’t deliver a clear verdict.

The A.V. Club blog reached this verdict

Ten years ago, Bourdain was a proud member of a strange, somewhat criminal outcast culture, and he produced a work that really didn’t need a follow-up. In the interim, he’s become a cultural icon, but his new book feels redundant, out of touch, and more than a little sad.”

Tony’s got a true fan in Gina Mallet at the National Post in Canada, who liked the book, and Bourdain himself, for her own reasons.

Good news!

No Reservations resumes with all-new episodes on Monday, July 5, on the Travel Channel.

Brits Think We’re Being Too Tough on BP

June 11, 2010

By Yul

England’s Prime Minister David Cameron has come to BP’s defense, now that Obama finally took a couple of swings by telling Matt Lauer on The Today Show he’s finding out how “whose ass to kick” and that he wouldn’t have BP’s tactless CEO, Tony Hayward, working for him.

It’s easy to cry for BP from across the pond, so let’s help England cultivate a little empathy. How about we dump a few million gallons of BP’s oil into your Channel so it can coat everything with gooey slime and kill off tourism and every plant and living creature it touches — with slow suffocation?

Let’s fry some of your delicious fish and chips in crude. And how about a nice hot cup of “Texas Tea” with those scones?

Think you’ll still be feeling all warm and fuzzy toward BP after that?

This mess has nothing to do with BP’s home base or the execs’ accents, but everything to do with incompetence.

BP deliberately duped the American government (shame on us!) with 582 pages of a bogus Gulf contingency plan that included disconnected phone numbers, dead scientists, inactive Web sites, and concern for animals that don’t even live in the Gulf, like walruses and otters.

Thanks to the gross stupidity of everyone who was supposed to know what they were doing, it’s going to take the foot of God to stomp out that gusher because BP sure doesn’t seem up to the job.

And if I see Tony Hayward’s mug on TV one more time, claiming that BP has launched the “most massive cleanup in history,” he’s going to get a hairball right in the kisser.

Of COURSE you have! You’ve created the one of biggest MESSES in history!

Investors worry that BP will be forced into bankruptcy. I’m OK with that, after every last penny is squeezed out to make amends. Dissolution of the company would be a fitting punishment and keep it from committing another disaster.

Unfortunately, BP nor anybody anyone else has enough money to undo this mess, and the Gulf Coast may never fully recover.


The next time talking heads start throwing around barrels and gallons interchangeably so you can’t get a good handle on how much oil is out there, a barrel = 42 gallons. Now you can do the math.

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