Obama Trapped in Muslim Mudslide

August 18, 2010

By Yul

For a fellow black cat, President Obama sure doesn’t seem to have my surefootedness nor an ability to land on his feet when he gets himself into a jam, as he did on August 13 during a dinner at the White House for Muslim leaders to honor their holy month of Ramadan. In a prepared speech, he brought up the proposed mosque 2 blocks from Ground Zero and said

“As a citizen, and as president, I believe that Muslims have the . . . right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in Lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances.

“This is America, and our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakable. The principle that people of all faiths are welcome in this country, and will not be treated differently by their government, is essential to who we are. The writ of our Founders must endure.”

It certainly sounded like he has no problem with that mosque. So naturally, it gave the right-wing wackos reason to scream, “See, what did we tell you? He’s a closet MUSLIM! One of THEM!”

So the next day, Obama tried to backtrack by saying…

“I was not commenting and I will not comment on the wisdom of making the decision to put a mosque there. I was commenting very specifically on the right people have that dates back to our founding.”

He’s beginning to remind me of that Woody Allen character, Zelig, who would try to fit in everywhere by morphing into whatever type of person he was with.

I agree with Adele that if Muslims want to build a “community” center, fine. But making it a mosque intentionally excludes everybody but, uh, Muslims.

Obama certainly could have handled it better and sounded like he wasn’t caving to extremism. Michael Graham of the Boston Herald eloquently provided the words Obama could have and should have said.


Rome + Bourdain = La Dolce Vita

August 16, 2010

By Karen

No Reservations is in Rome tonight. Don’t miss it. Period. It’s that good.

Yes, it is filmed in black and white with some subtitles, but they’re sprinkled like condiments, not the main course. The food gets hints of color.

Bourdain fears that fans will hate his foray into Federico Fellini’s style, but if you’ve ever enjoyed a Fellini film, you’ll get it. Tony is justifiably proud of the result and blogged at length about how they achieved it.

Rome is now on my short list of episodes, along with Venice and his very first one in Paris, that I could watch again and again. Bourdain, in suits and ties throughout, channels Marcello Mastroianni, and Ottavia appears in two scenes, the quintessentially earthy Italian. She deftly deflates his ego as only she can, even though she tweeted at the time that she was ill and off her game.

Travel Channel used one of the lamer moments for this promo which, for some reason, WordPress isn’t letting me post, even after repeated attempts, so here’s the link.

This show reminded me why I fell in love with NR in the beginning, and wiped away the ugly memories of Dubai and Kerala.

Australian blogger Lorraine Elliott at Not Quite Nigella did a phone interview with Bourdain that’s the best I’ve seen in a long time. She managed to cover new ground, and Tony confirmed that his next book is a crime novel.

Blogger Cooking for Assholes was thrilled to find himself “validated” by Bourdain during Lorraine’s interview. Look for his August 11 post; they don’t seem to have separate addresses.

Dallas Observer interviewed John Tesar, chef at Dallas Fish Market, and asked about Bourdain’s drinking habits. Calling Tony “Flaco,” Tesar said Tony never passes out, and throwing up is against his religion.

The Show Girl at TVSquad spoke to “Iron Chef” Michael Symon about Bourdain (she’s totally annoying, but it’s mercifully the first clip), and Symon good-naturedly said some catty things about our Tony.

Cats Working reader Morgan found a lengthy November 2002 Q&A with Bourdain in the Washington Post. I don’t remember ever seeing it, but it accompanied publication of A Cook’s Tour and is vintage Bourdain.

Now Steven Slater is a Villian

August 12, 2010

By Cole

Meredith Vieira fluffed my tail on the Today Show this morning when she reported on a “backlash” against JetBlue flight attendant Steven Slater over his dramatic resignation. If you haven’t heard about it, catch up with my previous post.

Vieira’s slant was that Slater was a loose cannon who might have done the same thing even if a passenger hadn’t given him a head injury and cussed him out TWICE.

She spoke by phone with a female passenger seated near the front of the plane who apparently missed the altercation, but saw Slater with a huge gash in his forehead, which she described as “wet,” so it was still bleeding. She asked him for a wet wipe to clean up coffee spilled on her seat, but he told her to sit down because he had to take care of himself first. The passenger shut up because she could see he was upset, but has also complained in The Wall Street Journal that he was just being rude.

Next, Vieira interviewed Slater’s ex-wife in person, who has been supportive, and tried to get her to concur that Slater was looking for trouble.


So what about this so-called “backlash?” Not surprisingly, managers and “employment experts” are vilifying Slater. They just hate it when abused underlings finally say “Enough’s enough!” and walk (or slide) away to find something better. Sheeple are just impossible when they get assertive.

Robert Hogan, Ph.D., a personality testing expert in Oklahoma, thinks Slater is a publicity hog and told a Washington Post columnist that people in similar situations should…

Shut up and bear it. People who try to stick up for themselves always lose.

Yeah, right. Try telling that to a cat.

Meanwhile, Slater’s Facebook fan page is up to 170,000 “likes.” I’m guessing none of his fans are managers.

And JetBlue has given $100 vouchers to everyone on the plane — including the still-anonymous “World’s Worst Passenger.”

That’s how JetBlue responds to assault and abuse of their employees. Yet they wonder why people (and cats) admire Steven Slater’s reaction.

Cats Working Strikes Again

August 11, 2010

By Yul

Jami Bernard at WalletPop just posted, “Quiznos kittens are giving me nightmares,” and it includes this line…

“One blogger speculated that the ads were aimed at ‘babies.’”

I have no doubt the blogger in question is yours truly. The same feline blogger whose post in April brought Cats Working to the attention of the BBC and almost roped Karen into being my spokesperson on a radio show about Afghanistan.

Bernard believes the Quiznos ads may be aimed at pot smokers, but I wonder if the typical Quiznos’ hours of operation support that. Around here, they seem to be more of a daytime, sub-eating-baby-friendly environment.

Anyway, WalletPop also revealed the perp, uh, I mean, creator of this abominable ad campaign. It’s WangDoody, a Seattle-based ad agency Quiznos hired early this year.

Any company that would give itself a name like WangDoody probably does think cornering the market on nosh-craving pot smokers is a sound business strategy.

Anyway, I just wanted to let you know. Out of the mouths of cats…

Steven Slater Quit His Job Like a Cat

August 11, 2010

By Cole

Karen’s book, How to Work Like a Cat, may have been a few years ahead of its time, but downtrodden, demoralized employees seem ripe for it now, if public reaction to the behavior of JetBlue flight attendant Steven Slater is any indication.

The media initially reported the way he quit his job as a blow-up that flared suddenly when Flight 1052 landed at JFK on August 9, but there’s much more to the story.

According to Slater’s lawyer, an unidentified female passenger boarded Slater’s plane in Pittsburgh with a large carry-on. She started fighting with another woman for overhead bin space, hit Slater’s head with the bin door when he approached to mediate, and didn’t apologize. When he told the woman she’d have to check her bag, she cursed him.

As soon as the plane landed at JFK, the woman demanded her bag immediately and let loose with another barrage of swearing when Slater told her it would be on the baggage carousel.

That’s when Slater finally had enough. He got on the intercom and called her the “f**king asshole who told him to f**k off,” but thanked all the polite passengers. Then he looked out a porthole to make sure no ground crew were outside the plane, grabbed a few beers, deployed the emergency slide, and headed for home.

So what’s feline about that? That woman stepped on his tail twice. He let her get away with physical abuse the first time. But he understandably hissed and spat at the additional verbal abuse and made a hasty escape from a bad situation.

And people are LOVING it. He’s an Internet sensation and Facebook fans are raising money for his legal defense.

We at Cats Working think his approach was a bit too feral, but we applaud him in principle and hope that others follow his example by standing up and saying, “Enough!” to the never-ending crap they’re dished on the job.

What surprises me is that the woman who caused this brouhaha remains silent (still no apology?) and her identity is being protected. She deserves to be publicly humiliated and labeled the “World’s Worst Passenger.” If it doesn’t teach her to behave on her next flight, at least other flight attendants will know they’ve got a crude and selfish abuser on board.

Bones to Pick with Bourdain

August 9, 2010

By Karen

In another new episode of No Reservations, Anthony Bourdain shows us around Dubai for almost 5 minutes before plunging his fingers into mush that looks like vomit. Except for one scene in a deserted Gordon Ramsay restaurant where he wields a knife and fork, it’s finger food everywhere else, even if it has the consistency of sour cream.

My highlight is Bourdain on skis on a snowy slope manufactured from desalinated water in the Mall of the Emirates. His well-honed sense of the absurd also gets a good workout.

But I still can’t wait for him to get to Rome and Paris, where people don’t eat every meal like toddlers.

Must confess I finally abandoned The Best American Travel Writing of 2008, which Tony edited, due to its everywhere-but-Europe emphasis. I understood why he was drawn to the essays he picked, but enough’s enough.

I call “Bullshit!” on “Where it All Began” when Bourdain asserted he hardly considers writing a “craft” and has learned nothing about it because he just writes the way he talks.

Yeah, and all his first drafts are publishable.

Tony originally aspired to be a novelist with Bone in the Throat and Gone Bamboo. He had to know something about plotting, pacing, character development, dialogue, description, point of view. There’s much more to crime fiction than “writing the way you talk.”

Granted, he finally hit one out of the park with Kitchen Confidential, which he just called his first “real” book on his blog. Of the 7 books he’s produced since, 6 have been nonfiction (The Bobby Gold Stories is the exception).

But his next book will probably be a novel, since he’s got personal appearances here through at least February 2011 and the Vietnam book still seems iffy.

And now for my coup de grâce…

The other night I caught about 20 minutes of Samantha Brown in — guess where? — Vietnam. I hadn’t seen her in while, and she seems to be over her “Golly, gee, I’m just a dumb American, but ain’t everything lovely!” phase. She met people and tried things most tourists would probably never do. She ate bun cha, but didn’t dwell on it. Vietnam through her eyes seemed more appealing than Tony makes it.

There, I said it.

Tony and family have been enjoying some much-needed R&R in Italy, but there’s a little news…

Jonathan Sorof at The Improper Bostonian did an interview some time in June with Tony where I learned that Brussels sprouts are part of his Thanksgiving dinners. Yeecchhh!

Here’s the article and photos of the Bourdains in the July 5 People, in case you missed it.

Eater.com collected Bourdain’s best one-liners from “Where it All Began.”

Blogger Scott D. Parker did write a review of the Medium Raw audio book, which he devoured. Scott, just for the record, No Reservations’ 100th episode isn’t until September 6, and it will be in Paris, returning where Tony filmed the first episode. Travel Channel is advertising for tributes.

Village Voice reports that a panel of editors will select the finalists from which Bourdain will choose a winner in the Medium Raw essay contest, which is now up to 1,300 entries. He was checking the site and commented on a few in the beginning, but the chances of him reading your essay now seem pretty slim.

The New York Post, still referring to Les Halles as “Bourdain’s flagship brasserie,” reported that the restaurant received a B grade on a recent Health Department inspection for “evidence of mice, problems with plumbing and food left out unprotected from contamination.”

Quiznos. Kittens. Why?

August 6, 2010

By Yul

Every time I see this weird and annoying Quiznos ad featuring an all-kitten brass band, which they awkwardly call “Singimals,” I’m very tempted to spray the TV.

What’s that on those poor kitties’ heads? Granny wigs?

And the “Three Blind Mice” soundtrack? There isn’t a cat even mentioned in that song. It would have made more sense to use singing rats in sunglasses. They might not have had to look far to find the talent (if you get my drift).

Oops! Too late. They’ve already used some sort of rodent life form, and it makes less sense than kittens, if that’s even possible…

I can just imagine Quiznos’ meeting with their “Mad Men”…

Quiznos: Why cats?

Ad Guy: They’re even cuter than vermin with bad teeth. Everybody knows if you want something to sell, you put cats on it.

Q: But if you say “cats” in our business, people think Chinese restaurant and start to feel nauseous.

AG: We’re going to change all that. Just trust us. This ad is golden.

It wouldn’t surprise me if Quiznos used the same jokers to design their bizarre website that jumps around and makes swoopy noises. Whose attention are they trying to grab with that?

It would seem that Quiznos’ target market is babies. Babies who eat subs.


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