Something’s Rotten on “Dancing with the Stars”

October 27, 2010

By Adele

It’s hard to believe that anyone thinks Bristol Palin is a better dancer than the last few who have been voted off DWTS.

I have a couple of theories: 1) Sarah Palin’s Mama Grizzlies are doing her evil bidding and voting in force, or 2) The producers are rigging the show to milk the Palin connection.

I’m not the only one who thinks they’ve struck some back-room deal with Sarah on Bristol’s behalf.

Sarah’s smirking mug has been noticeably absent from the audience, now that the remaining contestants can pretty much dance circles around Bristol, yet they keep getting the hook while Bristol remains safe.

Sarah even let it “slip” in Houston the other day that they asked her husband Todd to be on the show, but left unsaid whether he was their first choice. She couldn’t resist getting in that little dig at Bristol, probably as payback for giving Levi a second chance, even as she angles to help Bristol win in case the truth ever comes out. God forbid she should be exposed as a bad mother.

I basically like Bristol, but in 6 weeks, she hasn’t advanced beyond basic steps in any dance. Last night’s tango was her best, but only because the judges kindly overlooked how mushy it was. Tango is supposed to be crisp, staccato. Bristol did get her head right (better than Florence Henderson, in fact) but Mark led her like they were waltzing. See for yourself:

Meanwhile, Audrina and Jennifer, who have worked like dogs from Day One and are far better dancers than Bristol, landed on the bottom, and Audrina got booted.

We didn’t see the whole show. Karen turned off the TV, saying, “A night of rock’ means everybody dances to bad music.” And the results drove another nail into its coffin.

Bourdain’s Trail Growing Cold

October 25, 2010

By Karen

When the Web goes this quiet on Anthony Bourdain, he must be off somewhere filming the new season of No Reservations. But bloggers wherever he’s visiting are keeping mum about it.

Could he be pursuing his crazy dream of following Joseph Conrad’s trek through the Congo?

Ottavia’s tweets alerted me to a new contest that closes on November 15 at Tasting Table. You can enter now for a chance to win the grand prize of a trip to the next South Beach Wine & Food Festival, which happens to be its 10th anniversary. Bourdain wrote the foreword to the upcoming companion South Beach Wine & Food Festival Cookbook, to be released November 16.

The 3rd Annual Cayman Cookout is January 13-16, 2011, hosted by Eric Ripert at the Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman. You can attend attend certain events with package deals ranging from $830 to $1,750, but for want of something better to do, I blocked out what it might cost a Cats Working Bourdain fan to pay à la carte for all his events that weekend…

On Friday, he’s running the kitchen of the Periwinkle restaurant in the Ritz to prepare a brasserie lunch ($275). That evening, he’ll be at the SURF & SANDcastles Kick-off Celebration on Seven Mile Beach with all the other honored guests ($250).

Saturday afternoon, Tony is speaking at the Ritz ($135), and on Sunday at noon he’ll be one of the presiding judges at the Bon Vivant Champagne Brunch Cookoff, where local chefs will compete for the culinary crown ($235).

There’s no mention of him helping in the kitchen with the Gala Dinner on Sunday night, the weekend’s grand finale.

Barnes & Noble recently asked Bourdain to name and comment on his three favorite books. He cited Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and George V. Higgins’ The Friends of Eddie Coyle, but the third one really surprised me — Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov.

Tony’s back on the road with appearances in November. Here’s my list, in case you live nearby and want to see him in person:

Date City Venue
10 Hershey, PA Hershey Theatre
11 Washington, DC Capital Food Fight
12 N. Charleston, SC N. Charleston Performing Arts Center
13 Raleigh, NC Progress Energy Center
18 Madison, WI Overture Center for the Arts
19 St. Petersburg, FL Progress Energy Center for the Arts
20 Atlanta, GA Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre
21 Kingston, NY Ulster Performing Arts Center

Coventry Cat-Hater Gets Sentenced

October 22, 2010

By Adele

Mary Bale, the notorious “Cat Bin Lady” of Coventry, England, had her day in court. Remember, she was the woman who who pushed Lola, a friendly tabby, into a trash can and closed the lid, leaving Lola trapped for the next 18 hours there until her owners found her.

Bale could have gotten a maximum of 6 months in prison and a £20,000 fine.

She was sentenced to a £250 fine, a £15 victim surcharge, and court costs of £1,171. And she’s not allowed to own a small animal for 5 years.

Bale’s only defense was that she was distraught about her father, who wasn’t doing well after a fall. He died last week.

Her lawyer said that Bale has been depressed since her bizarre crime was caught on tape. She resigned from her job as a bank teller and, after much soul-searching, is still is unable to offer a plausible explanation for why she suddenly wanted somebody’s pet cat to slowly starve to death in a stinky plastic tomb or get chewed up in the back of a garbage truck.

Critics of the sentence are saying that Bale should have gotten at least 18 hours in a dark prison cell so she could experience what she put Lola through.

As one cat to another, I was able to get Lola’s reaction to the verdict by e-mail. She wrote:

Had I known that being nice to that daft human would lead to her trying to do me in and ruin her own life in the process, I would have stayed in the bushes and let the Doberman down the block have his way with her.

I also asked her about the victim surcharge money. She replied:

If it comes to me, I’ll have me owners buy me a collar equipped with a Swiss army knife. Sometimes claws just ain’t enough.

Should Anita Hill Apologize?

October 20, 2010

By Adele

Can pigs fly?

Like everybody else, I’m wondering what — other than early-onset dementia — could have possessed Justice Clarence Thomas’ wife, Virginia, to suddenly ring up Anita Hill’s office and leave this message…

“Good morning, Anita Hill, it’s Ginny Thomas. I just wanted to reach across the airwaves and the years and ask you to consider something. I would love you to consider an apology sometime and some full explanation of why you did what you did with my husband. So give it some thought and certainly pray about this and come to understand why you did what you did. Okay have a good day.”

Virginia Thomas later told the press that her motive was to “extend an olive branch.”

Sounded more like a switch to me. Did she really expect Anita Hill to come out of the blue 19 years later and turn her life as a Brandeis University professor upside down by saying she made it all up? That Clarence Thomas was really a swell boss? That she got herself dragged through the mud for nothing?

Has anyone seen Clarence moping around about it, since his alleged misogyny got rewarded with a seat on the Supreme Court?

If anyone should be apologizing here, it should be the Thomases to Anita Hill.

Virginia Thomas founded Liberty Central Inc., a nonprofit lobbying group affiliated to the Tea Party, whose agenda is to wreak havoc with Obama. She was one of the featured speakers at the recent Tea Party shindig held right here in Richmond.

Unfortunately, it’s not illegal for Clarence Thomas to be married to a neocon nut job who uses prayer as a weapon and doesn’t know how to pick her battles. It’s just very disturbing to know this guy has Lady MacBeth trying to pull strings behind him while he’s sitting on the bench.

Did Bourdain Call Foodies Snobs?

October 18, 2010

By Karen

There’s little Anthony Bourdain buzz on the ‘Net lately. I haven’t seen any personal appearances since October 2 when he was at Harrah’s Lake Tahoe. After that, he turned up in Toronto for an extended stay, so I’ll stick my neck out and speculate that he’s working his day job, filming Season 7 of No Reservations.

2frugalfoodies, a couple in Virginia, briefly met Tony after his appearance in Fredericksburg, Virginia, on September 23, and they got an opportunity to eat at Les Halles in New York a few days later. Their server apparently told them Tony comes in about once a month, and sometimes cooks.

I’m going to stick my neck out again and say I think the server was joking, possibly sick of being asked about a guy who hasn’t worked there in a decade.

But one of the 2frugalfoodies raised a very interesting point he said Bourdain made, and which may influence his future posts. He summarized it so well, I’ll quote him rather than try to paraphrase…

“Among the many gems of wisdom, one of the points that really affected us was the idea that people who love food use it as a means to separate themselves from others. When we talk about going to a great restaurant, are we really sharing it because we love it, or because it makes us ‘more in the know,’ or somehow just a little bit classier than someone who hasn’t been? From sustainability to gourmet tasting menus, there’s a fine line between enthusiasm and snotty bragging.”

As a non-foodie who wouldn’t think to photograph my plate before I eat what’s on it, I appreciate the sentiment. It reminds me of something a friend once said: “Every great meal today is tomorrow’s bowel movement.”

This interview in Slate is dated May 31, 2010, but I don’t recall reading it, so pardon me if it’s a repeat. Kathryn Schulz talked to Bourdain at length about being wrong.

In early November, Bourdain’ chooses a favorite in the Medium Raw essay challenge. I think his next personal appearance is November 10 in Hershey, Pennsylvania.

On November 11, he heads to DC to team up with his buds Tom Colicchio and Eric Ripert for the Capital Food Fight to benefit the DC Central Kitchen, a cause he’s championed for several years. Then he’s scheduled for several more appearances, mostly along the East Coast, leading into Thanksgiving, and becomes scarce again until February 2011.

JC Penney, *$%#!! You!

October 16, 2010

By Karen

This morning I saw that JC Penney is having a sale and I could get 15% off with my JCP credit card.

Background: I worked for Penney’s in college in the, ahem, early ‘70s. Their “Young Moderns” credit card with a $300 limit was my very first plastic. Out of loyalty, I’ve kept a Penney’s card for nearly 40 years, even after they pissed me off by morphing it into another MasterCard.

Now, back to the sale. I hadn’t used my JCP card lately (2006, I later found out), but was surprised to see it had expired last month.

So I called the toll-free number, a multi-level maze of voice prompts that imply, “The last thing we want to do is help you.” Pressing “0” to skip the garbage didn’t work.

When I FINALLY reached a human, she wanted my 16-digit card number, which I’d already entered for the robot voice. Where did it go?

Then she wanted my full name, phone number, last 4 digits of SSN, mother’s maiden name, birth date.

FINALLY, she asked what I wanted.

When I told her about the expired card, she said, “Your account has been closed due to inactivity. You have to go to blah blah to reapply.”

She couldn’t have said that as soon as she had my account number?

I said, “I have no account with you, yet you just collected a lot of personal information on me. Would you please delete it?”

“Oh, yes, of course.”

I heard her striking some key on her keyboard. Yeah, right. All gone!

I’m so disgusted with Penney’s, they won’t see me for the foreseeable future, although just a few months ago, I dropped nearly a grand there on new blinds for my whole house.

Penney’s, here’s why I’ll NEVER carry your card again:

1. You closed my account without notifying me.

2. Your automated customer service sucks.

3. Your human customer service reps aren’t any better.

I hate to say, “Back in my day…” but here goes: When I worked for Penney’s, they didn’t think customers were disposable.

Hope Wins, for a Change

October 14, 2010

By Yul

Cats Working spent hours yesterday watching many of the trapped Chilean miners rise to the surface after 69 days of living like sewer rats. We were amazed at how well-groomed they looked. They must have spent a lot of time giving themselves lick-baths.

It was truly impressive that the authorities left no stone unturned (pardon the pun) to find the miners after 700,000 tons of rocks fell on them. And that the men kept themselves alive for 17 days until they were discovered, and continued to hope even when they learned it could be months before they were freed from their fetid inferno.

What we usually see in such seemingly futile situations, whether natural or man-made, are clueless suits with their thumbs up their butts, yakking about what they might do (see Hurricane Katrina), or making pledges they never deliver (see post-earthquake Haiti) while the people involved get sick, starve, and die.

As the rescue continued yesterday, we kept checking back, waiting for the other shoe to drop, as it always does. News that the capsule had broken down and it would take months to build another one. It got stuck mid-way or plunged to the ground when it was just 6 feet from the surface, killing the miner inside. It accidentally crushed a miner who should have been next and was eagerly standing too close as it completed its descent.

But, miraculously, none of that happened. The capsule worked almost flawlessly 35 times (2 additional guys went down to help the miners up). How often does tailor-made technology work so quickly and so well when lives are at stake (see BP Gulf oil spill)?

Maybe God got distracted and forgot to indulge his usually sadistic sense of humor at man’s expense by letting everybody get their hopes up, only to dash them for a celestial laugh (see “Mission Accomplished”).

Maybe the Devil got distracted and forgot to hold onto the miners’ feet to keep them from escaping hell (see victims of 9/11) while angels made sure they all lived.

Who knows? Cats can’t begin to understand or trust a being whose name spelled backward is “doG.”

But whoever or whatever watched over those miners, we’re just thankful that every one of the men survived.

Obamas Should Have Got a Cat

October 13, 2010

By Cole

You first read it right here in the beginning. Yul said that the Obamas’ dog, Bo, needed the Dog Whisperer because every time we saw Bo, he was dragging an Obama family member around by his leash.

Now the Dog Whisperer himself, Cesar Millan, has weighed in, and he agrees with Yul. Bo may live in the White House, but he definitely needs to learn his place. Here’s the transcript of what Millan told Lesley Stahl on CBS Sunday Morning. And here’s video of him saying it.

Millan thinks George W. Bush’s dog, Barney, also had control issues, and points out that it’s ridiculous to see the reputed leader of the free world being yanked by a dog. It sends precisely the wrong message about U.S. strength to people like Putin, Amadinejahd, Netenyahu, Kim Jong Il, Chavez, and every other tough guy out there.


Who's the boss? (Photo - Gary Fabiano)


And that’s why, when picking a First Pet, if Obama had considered precedent he would have said, “To heck with Malia’s cat allergy; we’ve got presidential healthcare now. My doctor can cure her. Yes he can. We’re going to adopt a cat.”

He should have realized that never in the history of this country has a U.S. president been photographed getting schlepped around by his cat: Not Lincoln, Hayes, McKinley, Wilson, Coolidge, Kennedy, Ford, Carter, Clinton, or Bush II. Not even Martin Van Buren, and he had 2 tiger cubs.

That’s because if a cat is expected to play second fiddle, he just won’t play at all. A president’s image suffers no harm if nobody knows his cat is lurking (and smirking) under his Oval Office desk, whereas a boisterous presence like Bo is virtually impossible to hide.

Bourdain too Profane for Small Children?

October 11, 2010

By Karen

Nuvo revealed an interesting little tidbit from the Q&A of Anthony Bourdain and Eric Ripert’s joint appearance in Indianapolis on September 30. The last paragraph of the article tells how an irked mother apparently called Tony out for using the F-word to a child who asked a question. Keep scrolling, because commenters weighed in on what he most likely said, and rightly questioned why anybody would bring a child to see the guy whose show carries a warning about its appropriateness for children on every episode.

To MorganLF: I thought of you when I saw this post on Real Estate Resuscitation. You’ll know what I mean.

Bourdain sold out Harrah’s Lake Tahoe on October 2 for their Wine and Food Festival. The link’s here to document that, but there’s no new ground there.

Tony revealed to Jimmy Fallon on October 5 that he once collected comic books and wanted to be a cartoonist. That explains his ease with drawing his chef skull logo.

DC Comics imprint Vertigo offers a sample of illustrator Langdon Foss’ work on Tony’s new graphic novel, Get Jiro. His co-author is Joel Rose. It’s coming out in late spring/early summer.

Bourdain went yet another round with novelist Jonathan Safran Foer on the joys/evils of eating meat on Canadian radio. (Warning: It seems only a few minutes long and keeps repeating. I heard the same stuff 3 times before giving up, and I was only 11 minutes into the 24.)

Tony seemed to be in Toronto much of last week (maybe to film that new episode of No Reservations?). The Globe and Mail got Tony to describe his first 3 romantic dates with Ottavia (tats were involved), but they got her age wrong by 10 years.

Tony also did Toronto TV, talking to George Stroumboulopoulos on CBC. The quickfire Q&A during the last 3 minutes were the best. And for the love of God, would somebody PLEASE hide Tony’s hair gel! It’s clearly become his new addiction.

Knife Tricks reviewed Medium Raw mostly by quoting hunks of it, but it was the rather nasty assessment of Bourdain leading up to it that got my attention. However, I think there may be some truth in his theory on how Kitchen Confidential came to be. Tony was shooting for the top when he withdrew his article languishing at an indie newspaper and sent it to the New Yorker, so to say now that he didn’t expect anybody to read the resulting book does seem a bit disingenuous.

The Tea Party’s In Town

October 8, 2010

By Yul

This weekend, Richmond, Virginia, hosts what they’re calling the biggest Tea Party gathering ever, with 2,000+ people expected.

Makes me glad I’m an indoor cat and can’t leave the house.

The TP and I do agree on some things, such as the need to stop government spending on stupid stuff, like any pork Sarah Palin finagled for Alaska when she was governor. And Obama shouldn’t make anyone contribute to private health insurers’ profits with hard-earned money they should be spending on actual healthcare.

That’s about it. Dig one inch deeper and the TP becomes its own worst enemy. Anti-gay (marriage), anti-female (no abortions), anti-senior (cut Medicare), anti-child (whack the Department of Education), anti-poor (cut Medicaid and other social programs), and anti-anybody-unwhite (Yeah, TP, can the denials. Who’s at your rallies?).

What I find utterly ridiculous is their smug certainty that they themselves will ALWAYS have a good job, ALWAYS have excellent healthcare through an employer, and live out their days in comfort. They’ll never need nuthin’ from nobody because they’re immune to hardship of any type.

And they do themselves no favors by rallying around dangerous ditzes like Sarah Palin, applauding her efforts to stuff Congress with more like her, such as Rand Paul and Christine O’Donnell.

Virginia’s attorney general, Ken Cuccinelli, a Republican with considerable cuckoo-cred of his own, describes himself as “Not a member – a groupie [of the TP]. I don’t think they really appreciate having elected official members. We’re all suspect to some degree…”

It’s one of the most insightful things he’s ever said.

The TP doesn’t seem to have considered what they’ll do if their empty-headed candidates actually get to DC, where greed and temptation lurk everywhere.

The TP is in for a rude reality check when they discover that their inexperienced idols are capable of being just as corrupt, self-serving, and decadent as the worst career politicians of either party. That’s because it usually requires a broad streak of power-hungry egomania to even want the job.

If they think Congress is bad now, just wait until they pack it with cocky loose cannons who proudly make themselves No. 1 — just like a Tea Partier — and who lack the political savvy to even pretend they remember why they were elected, or who elected them. It will be total chaos.

That’s why I can’t take the Tea Party seriously. If they were as smart as they think they are, they’d pick figureheads who are thoughtful, intelligent, and capable of expressing bona fide ideas and reasonable, detailed plans — not  nitwits who just tear down everything while offering no alternatives and spew empty blather about God and country.

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