I Feel Dizzy, Oh, So Dizzy….

December 30, 2010

By Yul

We’re having a weird week at Cats Working. I’ll tell you about it in case it ever happens to you so you won’t freak out.

Christmas was perfectly fine, but sometime the night of December 26, I lost my sense of balance. The ramp I usually take to and from Karen’s bed seemed to sway with a tide and kept throwing me off.

By morning, I felt totally dazed and kept trying to do a 360 with my head, like that evil kid in The Exorcist. Karen thought I’d had a stroke and almost got us both killed on the icy road driving me to the vet’s.

The vet said I have “vestibular disease,” a quirky condition that suddenly makes kitties lose touch with gravity. The vet kept me almost all day to make sure it wasn’t a stroke and shot me (damn him!) with the antibiotic Covenia and Cerenia for nausea, just in case.

I kept my breakfast down, my eyes never ping-ponged in their sockets, and I wasn’t falling over or walking in circles, so they let me come home. Once back on my turf I figured, “What the hell,” and played the invalid card by pretending I was too weak to eat Fancy Feast.

Karen fell for it with vanilla yogurt and Gerber baby food. My delicious scheme backfired when I developed the “shizzly drits.” So Adele “graciously” donated her Royal Canin duck & pea (to get rid of it because she’s thoroughly sick of it). I don’t know what her problem is — it’s YUMMY!

It’s now Day 4 and I’m still not right, although last night I conducted a full inspection while Karen slept. I got her started on undecorating the Christmas tree, and paid a visit to Cole’s private man cave upstairs, although the steps wobbled like a fun house.

(BTW, Cole has been my constant companion throughout this ordeal. I owe him one.)

Now we’re just waiting and hoping I recover fully and soon. Karen keeps me supplied with hot water bottles to cuddle while I recuperate on her bed. The more time I spend sleeping, the less time I feel dizzy.

But right now, I look just like this cat.

In hindsight, this shouldn’t have blindsided us. I get respiratory infections regularly (it’s this virus I can never shake). One of them once ruptured both my eardrums. Recently, my right ear was bugging me and I scratched at it until my head was scabby, but Karen ignored it. Now this balance problem seems to be mainly in that ear. Could the vet have prevented it? I suspect not.

Otherwise, I feel fine, but I’m dictating this post to Karen because it’s a bitch to type on a moving keyboard. Please bear with us and stay tuned…

Bourdain’s All A-Twitter

December 27, 2010

By Karen

The good news this week is that Anthony Bourdain has appropriated the @NoReservations Twitter account. It immediately showed vast improvement over the lame hype Travel Channel was churning out. Tony’s banter is comedy gold (watch out, RuBo!), and he’s already added roughly 3,000 followers to his original 192K.

Tony also posted a Christmas message, a list of some of his favorite things in 2010 and what he looks forward to in the new year. After a croc devoured a kayaker, I hope he also decides to give up his mad scheme to channel the spirit of Joseph Conrad in the Congo.

In the January issue of O magazine, Tony writes that he’d “love to learn how to make pasta from scratch” in 2011 as a way of embracing Ottavia’s Italian heritage. Maybe he can team up with Fabio from Top Chef for lessons.

Bourdain contributed a piece to a new Lonely Planet anthology, A Moveable Feast: Life-Changing Food Adventures Around the World.

If you didn’t read Denise Vivaldo’s confession last week about selling the Kwanzaa cake recipe to Sandra Lee, you missed it. Huffington Post has yanked the article for a TOS violation. I don’t get that.

Bourdain wasn’t a judge for week 4 of Top Chef All-Stars, and I don’t know if he’s on this week because I didn’t see him in the preview, but he blogged about Spike out-foxing his way to elimination. Spike wasn’t one of my favorites, but I’m sorry to see him go. A Machiavellian type always livens things up. Tony also noted that Fabio’s brilliant idea of grating cheese on a shelf rack for the Quickfire challenge, where they had to make stuffing without any utensils, was food poisoning waiting to happen. It was a most pointless, reckless, stupid challenge that forced everyone to compromise food safety. It’s a miracle Padma and the guest judge didn’t go down for the count.

And I’d like to know who left the ginormous loophole in the TC rules, whereby a cheftestant who fails to serve their freaking dish gets a free week’s pass. It seems to me the only fair result should be an automatic spot on the bottom, giving a reprieve to one of the other hapless schmucks who at least completed a dish. And if the reason the dish failed to materialize is lame enough (“My chickpeas didn’t soften in time because I didn’t know that dried beans cook like gravel”), it’s an automatic “Buh-bye.”

So far, cheftestant Jamie has managed not to deliver 2 of the 4 weeks of competition, yet she’s still there. Why? Eric Ripert thinks she should voluntarily drop out. I’d like viewers to have the satisfaction of seeing her kicked out. This week.

Don’t Diss Your Cat Dis Christmas

December 22, 2010

By Yul

Cats love Christmas — except for poisonous poinsettias, cleaning up, and putting away — so I was dismayed by a poll that revealed only 48% of cat owners are buying us presents this year.

Adding insult to injury, 56% of dogs are on their owners’ gift lists.

What is WRONG with you people?

Luckily, you still have 3 days to redeem yourself and remain in your cat’s good graces.

In a pinch, your grocery store stocks plenty of feline gifts you can pick up while buying your Christmas feast. The pet aisle has many varieties of gourmet cat food and treats, and even a few lame toys.

Imagine your cat’s joy on Christmas morning while ripping open a brand-new catnip mouse. (Tip: Wrap in plenty of paper and curly ribbon). Remember, it’s the thought that counts, so when he immediately bats the mouse under the couch and stalks off to sulk for the rest of the day on your bed, you’ll know exactly what he thought of the cheap ‘nip.

From the rest of the grocery store, your cat might appreciate a nice can of fancy people tuna (packed in water, a separate delicacy) or even a jar of all-meat baby food.

If your cat has a thing for potato chips, green beans, cheese, or yogurt, indulge it in moderation. Everybody eats what they shouldn’t at the holidays.

But if you REALLY want to make your cat’s Christmas one he’ll remember for the rest of his nine lives, visit a department or pet supply store and buy him a snuggly blankie, a comfy bed, or something to sharpen his claws on. Lay in a good supply of primo ‘nip for the long winter nights to come. Get us one of our must-have toys. Like sparkle balls, which glisten so prettily among the dust bunnies under the fridge. We also love feathers on a stick, but only if your New Year’s resolution to lose weight includes doing laps around the house to make the feathers fly like a bird.

WARNING: Presents we DON’T want are litterboxes (especially new-fangled electronic ones), exotic new litters, litter scoops, grooming tools, or bowls. That’s like Santa leaving a mop, dishrag, comb, and a bottle of water in your stocking. And we appreciate new collars like you enjoy getting underwear. (Except for Cole. A new collar reassures him he’s not going back to the joint.)

We cats just want some small token of your esteem. If we’re so inclined, we’d also like you to sit still for a minute and allow us to curl up with you for a nice cuddle.

May Santa Kitty bring you everything you wish for! Merry Christmas!

A Cats Working Christmas

December 21, 2010

By Cole

Can you believe it’s already my SECOND Christmas here? It feels like only yesterday I was a scaredy-cat just beginning to venture downstairs to find out what Christmas with a family is all about.

This year, Karen got a little lazy and put up the smaller tree. It’s only got 5 pieces, so Yul didn’t have to supervise assembly.

This tree still looks plenty big to me!

Our special ornaments got the best spots front and center.

Since space was limited, we decided to decorate the rest of the tree with only black and white cat ornaments — you know, the ones that look like us. Sorry, tabbies!

Now Adele is strutting around, fluffed up with pride, because there are many more white cats on the tree than black. I’ll grudgingly agree that white cats show up better, but black-cat ornaments can have more character…

I wonder how many people hang fish on their trees?

This one is my favorite because it looks almost like me. Notice the white toes…

Come to think of it, it looks like Yul, too!

Adele and I have been inspecting presents, but are resisting the urge to open any, although Adele nibbled some bows in hopes something might just fall open.

Nice not to have Adele yelling at me for a change.

Because he is prone to sniffles, Yul got one of his presents early — a new suede coat lined with fleece. He loves dressing up. He also wants Santa Kitty to bring him a new hot water bottle. His old one recently peed all over Karen’s bed. She was NOT pleased.

Yul's a perfect dog size Medium!

I want a new collar because my yellow one has gotten a little tatty. My fault for not scratching my neck more carefully.

Adele says all she wants for Christmas is for me to go under Karen’s bed and stay there. Fat chance of that!

Even my Teddy and red mousey have gotten into the spirit. I’ve tweeted about them, so you may have wondered what they look like. They like to hang out together in my favorite chair so I’ll always know where to find them…

My two best friends.

Once again, our stockings are hung on the chimney with care — and they already have presents inside from Karen! But we’re waiting for Santa Kitty before we tear into them because Adele tells me he always leaves the freshest ‘nip.

The suspense is killing us, but we don't want to piss off Santa Kitty by peeking.

The weatherman says we could get 6” of snow on Christmas Day, so Karen may get snowed in with us and miss her big Christmas dinner with her parents.

But whatever it does outside, Christmas morning will be wonderful. We’ll get a special breakfast with treats and watch Video Catnip while we play with our presents and get stoned on ‘nip.

I love having a family tradition, and I’m grateful that we are all healthy and together again this year. I hope every shelter kitty finds a home and a family as nice as mine.

We at Cats Working wish all of our readers a Merry Christmas!

Bourdain’s Too Good for “Top Chef”

December 20, 2010

By Karen

No Reservations Season 7 is tentatively set to begin February 14. In the meantime, Anthony Bourdain fans can watch him judge Top Chef All-Stars.

In week 3, Tony got minimal screen time as the judges noshed at 4 exclusive New York restaurants. I think the less he’s seen with that mean little clique, the better. In his Bravo blog recap, Tony even managed to say something nice about all the cheftestants.

(On the other hand, Eric Ripert ripped a new one for Elia, week 1’s loser, for publicly spewing many sour grapes about Tom Colicchio. It’s as close to nasty I’ve ever seen Ripert get.)

Week 3 was a double elimination. Stephen and the non-Asian Dale got axed for failing to channel the spirit of their assigned famous chefs, yet Asian Dale won the elimination challenge with a mere egg. Go figure.

Is there a larger dollop of pomposity in this season’s judging? Or am I just becoming jaded from seeing one too many plates of weird stuff sitting in puddles  of goo?

Unlike the judges, I’m not surprised when chefs faced with an array of strange ingredients and sometimes malfunctioning appliances — and a ridiculously brief time to figure out what to do with them — concoct increasingly bizarre platefuls of crap.

Speaking of crap, so are the so-called “challenges.” Top Chef has morphed from a cooking competition into a culinary Survivor. I’m waiting for the Quick Fire where Padma coyly gives the the cheftestants 15 minutes to hack off and prepare an unobtrusive body part from the competitor to their left.

As much as I looked forward to Tony’s return for his wit as a judge, I’m now sorry he’s there. He’s not really one of them. He likes tube steaks cooked on dirty grills in alleys. (Granted, Padma loves to lick grease off her ankles.) But at this stage of his evolution from reputed bad boy, hurling clever “Gotchas!” at well-meaning people who were cornered for a multitude of reasons into creating bad food is beneath him. Far beneath him.

End of rant.

Zero Point Zero crew member Helen Cho is now tweeting and blogging for Tony, and her updates are on Tumblr. The plan is to make her as unpredictable as the show’s format, so they flipped interviewing duties and Tony supposedly grilled Helen to reveal some new Bourdainia, including the tentative Season 7 lineup, which is…

701 Nicaragua
702 Cambodia
703 Haiti
704 Vienna
705 Ozarks
706 Boston
707 Brazil
708 Japan
709 Cuba
710 Macau
711 El Bulli
712 U.S. Desert
713 Congo
714 Yemen
715 Memphis

Remember Sandra Lee’s Kwanzaa cake, a staple in Bourdain’s personal appearance repertoire? It seems Sandra bought the recipe 10 years ago from Denise Vivaldo, whose hilarious confession is on Huffington Post (thanks, human Adele, for the link!). Apparently, Sandra’s peeps thought she would be bigger than Martha Stewart. Maybe they still do, now that her boyfriend, Andrew Cuomo, is New York’s governor-elect.

Wanted: A Cat for Michael Vick

December 16, 2010

By Yul

After doing hard time for mercilessly exploiting dogs for fighting and having a judge prohibit him from ever owning another one, football star Michael Vick says he still wants one. He thinks it would help his rehabilitation, and he misses having a pet around the house.

OK, I have a better idea. Instead of a dog, Vick should get a cat. And not just any cat, but…

A full-grown, street-wise tomcat. His attitude toward humans is that thumbs make them good for operating a can opener and wielding a litter scoop. Period.

This cat should preferably be black, so if Vick harbors any superstitions, he’ll start feeling real lucky whenever he manages to avoid being tripped by the cat on the stairs in the dark.

And whenever Vick fails to dodge the cat’s interceptions, he can chalk it up to “rehab.”

It should be a cat who tolerates some petting (just how much varies day to day) and then screams and sinks his claws and teeth into whomever is petting him whenever they exceed his secret time limit.

This cat will have confidence to spare, taking possession of (and shedding on) any piece of furniture that looks comfortable, and sacking out right in the middle of Vick’s bed every night.

The cat will never come when called, refuse to learn tricks, and disappear if Vick even thinks about trying to discipline him.

And if Vick does or says anything that displeases the cat, he will spray all over any object Vick treasures, including electronic devices.

I think only after Michael Vick has experienced a few years of being owned by a real “cat’s cat,” he’ll have a clearer understanding of how he totally blew it when he had trusting, obedient dogs.

Sarah Palin Gives Haiti a Bushover

December 15, 2010

By Adele

Like Sarah Palin, I can coin new words. From now on, jaunts that politicians make on someone else’s dime to devastated areas without the slightest intention of doing a lick of good for the people will be called…


A full 11 months post-hurricane, Sarah Palin made a bushover to Haiti. I think it’s the first time I’ve ever seen her anywhere near people who are homeless, sick, and starving — the very sort of people she and her Tea Party cronies would just as soon see drop dead in this country.

The trip came courtesy of Samaritan’s Purse, a humanitarian organization founded by Rev. Franklin Graham (Billy’s son). Palin towed along daughter Bristol and husband Todd, since someone else was buying the gas. Why make them sit home freezing in Alaska when they could also enjoy a brief interlude in the tropics? Their presence served no other purpose.

Palin stayed less than 48 hours, but I suspect she’ll be tweeting and talking about Haiti for months as she tries to use its misfortune to boost her cred as a foreign policy expert.

While in Haiti, Palin made the brilliant suggestion that the U.S. do a military airlift of supplies, like she had no idea Bill Clinton and George Bush have been on the case since Day One.

Palin’s also urged the American people to “get out of your comfort zone and volunteer to help.” the country.

Well, here’s a suggestion for Palin…

Why don’t you put your money where your nouveau riche mouth is. You’ve raked in million of bucks from stupid suckers who think you’re the next president, so show some class for once and make a 7-figure donation to the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund.

I’m thinking they’ll be having snowball fights in hell before that happens.

Bourdain Gets Another Tasty Nomination

December 13, 2010

By Karen

The Tasty Awards released their last dribble of award nominees, and Anthony Bourdain’s up for “Best Male Host of a Series” category, so be sure to vote. (No Reservations also got 2 nominations). His competitors are Tom Colicchio, Eric Ripert, Andrew Zimmern (whose Bizarre Foods is nominated for “Best Comedy Series” — go figure), and just about every other guy who shares a show with food.

Top Chef’s Padma Laksmi is among the gazillion nominees for Best Female Host, so that should give you some clue as to what a distinguished honor this is.

Speaking of Top Chef, Bourdain didn’t judge week 2, when Eric Ripert’s employee, Jennifer Carroll, got sent home. I think I skipped Season 6, so I have no idea if Jen has always been so smug and arrogant, but my reaction to her elimination was, “Don’t let the door hit you in the ass,” thanks to the attitude she’s shown this season.

But in fairness, here’s her exit interview with the Chicago Tribune. I have no doubt the episode was cut to make her come off looking super-bitchy, but she did provide the footage.

With that elimination challenge, the show crossed the line into gratuitous torture. There was absolutely ZERO need to allow the cheftestants almost no sleep before they had to mass-produce breakfast at 7 a.m. for a mob of kids. It ain’t Survivor.

What’s still unclear to me is if Team T-Rex had access to any seasonings beyond salt and pepper. It was mentioned they couldn’t use herbs. So sending Jen home for under-seasoned eggs could have been bullsh*t.

Bourdain blogged his opinion. According to the promo, he should be back at the Judges’ Table this week.

Sifu Renka snapped a nice photo of Tony when he was in Toronto. (Scroll down to the bottom.)

In case you missed last week’s No Reservations holiday special with Michael Ruhlman, Eater captured the best lines. And Gawker provides this clip of what’s become the standard gratuitous raw meat scene that sent me into another room until it was over.

December 7, Tony and Ottavia attended a party in the Empire State Building to help Mario Batali launch the Culinary Council, which will help the Food Bank of New York City fight hunger there.

Eater also reports that Helen Cho is the new resident social networking guru for Zero Point Zero Production, and she actually works with the crew, which means the No Res tweets and Facebook page may actually have something other than impersonal 3rd-party hype like we bloggers are supplied from Room 214.

Huffington Post just got around to putting up some video of Bourdain and Ripert spouting opinions while they were taping their Turn and Burn Sirius radio show.

American Thinker bemoans the “Ramsayization of Society” and uses Bourdain’s regular use of the word suck to appeal to a more youth demographic to make the tongue-in-cheek point that Jonathan Swift could have penned bestsellers  if he’d done likewise, and illustrates with a ludicrously “Bourdainized” passage from A Modest Proposal.

Minnie the Cat Gets a Bum Rap

December 9, 2010

By Adele

McSorley’s Old Ale House in New York City’s East Village has a resident feline, Minnie the Second. A female patron, Cheryl Sibley, 53, of New Jersey, claims Minnie attacked her so viciously back in October 2009 that she had to be hospitalized. She has filed a lawsuit.

The 156-year-old pub has always had cats. After the Health Department fined the place for a cat on the bar, they aren’t allowed to roam freely during drinking hours, so how Minnie crossed paths with Sibley remains a mystery. Nor does McSorley’s owner, Matthew Maher, recall the incident. You’d think someone would have yelled if a blood-thirsty feline was mauling a customer.

Here’s some video of Minnie, the deadly predator:

I managed to reach Minnie by phone. It’s unlikely they’ll allow her to testify in her own defense at the trial, so she wants to set the record straight here.

Adele: Do you remember the night Cheryl Sibley was in McSorley’s?

Minnie: No. I was out back. I play by the rules.

A: So I guess you can’t shed any more light on what she’s saying you did to her?

M: As a matter of fact, I can, if you wanna hear the truth. But the Health Department ain’t gonna like it. When this doll claims I “attacked her,” I was out back playing bouncer to the rats.

A: Rats!

M: Yeah, Adele. It’s New York. If Sibley felt something warm and fuzzy gnawing on her, it was vermin — although I’d even doubt that. Not to toot my own horn, but I’m a almost a legend as a ratter.

A: So you’re saying if anything did bite or scratch Ms. Sibley, it was a rat?

M: I’d stake my ninth life on it. And I wish her rotsa ruck getting one of those guys to show up — let alone pay up — in court. They’d just as soon give her the plague, if you know what I mean.

So there you have it. To further prove her lovability, Minnie told me that she’s known among her many admirers as “Minnie the Moocher.”

(Thank you to Cats Working reader, and my namesake, Adele, for sending the lead for this story from Eater.)

Alleged Cat Killer Off the Hook

December 7, 2010

By Cole

The wheels of justice turn slowly — and too often in animal crimes — not at all.

In June 2009, I wrote about Tyler Weinman, the now-19-year-old boy accused of butchering 19 pet cats in the Miami ‘burbs. When I described the charges against him, I was nearly clairvoyant…

Weinman faces 19 counts of felony animal cruelty, four charges of burglary, and 19 counts of improperly disposing of animal carcasses. He could get 158 years in prison, but we all know he won’t.

Weinman spent more than a year under house arrest, but was freed on November 26. The court dismissed all charges against him and declared unspecified “other animals” the murderers.

Yeah, right. Animals carrying scalpels who took the cats somewhere else to partially skin them, remove their faces, or mutilate them in other horrible ways, and then return them to their front lawns and pose them in grotesque positions for maximum shock to their owners.

The verdict couldn’t be more ludicrous if the judge said the cats committed suicide.

How did justice drop the ball? Only 8 of the 19 cats’ bodies were analyzed. Weinman’s DNA was not found on any of them, nor was the cats’ DNA found on anything of Tyler’s. They admitted that testing for animal DNA is seldom done, so who knows how thorough it was?

In spite of plenty of circumstantial evidence, as well as Weinman’s own self-damning comments when he talked to police, such as when he described happily dissecting cats in biology class, or tried to strike a bargain on the charges, the whole case crumbled on questionable DNA testing.

I suspect we’re looking at a kid who’s watched enough Law & Order to know how to cover his tracks. Thanks to an inept court, I bet he’s feeling pretty smug and invincible right now.

Think Joran Van der Sloot after nobody could pin Natalee Holloway’s death on him.

I doubt we’ve heard the last of Tyler Weinman, but the next time his smirking mug shot appears under a headline, it probably won’t be because he killed a small animal.

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