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.

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