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.

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