Thanksgiving Friday Gives ‘Black’ a Bad Name

November 29, 2011

By Cole

All we’ve heard for the last week is “Black Friday, Blah, Blah, Blah,” with idiots camping out in front of their favorite stores to be first in line for bargains.

Some stores were open Thanksgiving Day, showing their gratitude to their employees by denying them a day with their families in the name of profit.

Other retailers showed a tad of restraint by not opening until midnight. Target even claimed its employees were “enthusiastic” about working the red-eye shift, essentially spitting in the face of one Nebraska employee, who got 200,000+ signatures on a petition begging Target to open at 5 a.m.

In a West Virginia Target, shoppers stepped around and over a 61-year-old man who collapsed in the aisle. His wife said some nurses who happened to be there performed CPR until the ambulance came, but the man died. No mention of any rescue effort by Target.

A Florida Target employee who worked the midnight shift was so exhausted, she drove into a canal on the way home. Fortunately, she was fished out alive.

But when it comes to sheer tackiness, there’s no beating Walmart. In California, a woman pepper-sprayed at least 14 customers throughout the store, then paid for her stuff and waltzed out without any Walmart employee confronting her. She turned herself in to police later when her behavior became national news, but may not be charged if they decide she acted in “self-defense.”

All over the country, shoppers were attacked and robbed trying to get home by crafty thieves who avoided the crowds INSIDE stores by grabbing stuff after someone else bought it.

When people in other countries see obese Americans obsessed with pigging out on Thanksgiving, and turning homicidal over cheap big-screen TVs, video games, and other junk they don’t need, there’s no way the U.S. can lead the world in anything.

But I’m proud to say that many animal shelters (including the Cats Working gang’s former joint, the Richmond Animal League) used Black Friday to help their usually-hard-to-place inmates find homes by reducing or waiving adoption fees for cats and dogs who are all or partially black.

Instead of fighting over meaningless stuff, why don’t people consider doing NICE things for someone for a change? Isn’t that what this so-called “Christian season of GIVING” is supposed to be all about?

Warming Up to ‘The Layover’

November 22, 2011

By Karen

I started writing very different impressions of Anthony Bourdain’s new series, The Layover, which premiered on Travel Channel last night. But I wanted to watch the Singapore episode again before shooting my mouth off, so I just checked Verizon’s On Demand for it in hopes of skipping the step of fast-forwarding through 20 minutes of commercials.

Predictably, it wasn’t there — but the as-yet-unaired New York City episode was.

Travel Channel strikes again. But more on that below.

Bottom line: Singapore left me underwhelmed. The 3- and 4-way split screens quickly grated. But let’s begin with what I liked…

  • Testimonials and tips from locals — they found friendly, articulate characters who complemented Bourdain nicely.
  • Tony navigating like a normal person. In No Reservations, he magically appears at destinations without logistics — unless his mode of travel is bizarre and feeds his idea of “the story.” But now we know he’s royalty at Singapore’s Grand Hyatt and thinks the airport is the world’s best.
  • The subtitles. I loved the maps, lists, and spellings of locations, businesses, and foods.
  • All the practical advice about transportation, hotels, and pricing (which will, unfortunately, date the series).

But aside from that, it was essentially Tony walking around, looking cool, and eating.

I get his reluctance to hit tourist traps. He’d have probably run in to Samantha Brown on that Ferris wheel. But I doubt anybody with one day in Singapore would eat 15 times.

At one point, I thought the show was wrapping up because it seemed I’d been watching Bourdain eat for hours, but the clock said it was only 9:29. That’s never a good thing.

But then I lucked into episode 2 in New York City. The format’s essentially the same, but used far less split-screen. It just felt better and held my interest.

If there’s anything Bourdain can teach us, it’s how to avoid being ugly American tourists. The tips NYC locals gave did just that. I was waiting for one to say, “Ladies, never wear a scrunchie.” (FYI: Sex & the City reference.)

After seeing New York, I like the The Layover. Let’s face it, if you were in foreign surroundings, who better than Anthony Bourdain to keep you safe and show you the good stuff?

Now, back to Travel Channel…

They are partnering with Rand-McNally’s to help viewers trace Bourdain’s footsteps in The Layover, virtually ensuring that Tony will indeed “destroy the things he loves.”

From their press release

Viewers can go to to watch additional video from a particular show and then research locations and activities. The site then connects them with, an interactive referral service focused on connecting travelers with qualified top-rated travel specialists. With, a user tells specialists where they want to go and what kind of experience they want. The request goes to a Travel Channel tripologist who specializes in the area, and is armed with actual itineraries from programming. Usually within 24 hours, the user will receive an email or phone call from a Travel Channel tripologist who can help plan the trip, and book with them directly.

Travel Channel “tripologists.”

What a stinking job title. I imagine incarnations of those hapless schlubs from Room 214 who tried to make TC a force in social media. They’d never met Tony and could tell you nothing about him or his travels beyond what TC’s PR flaks dribbled out in emails and video snippets.

It smells like Travel Channel has found a way to skim a little off viewer-to-travel-agent referrals. If you’re sucker enough to trust them, you’ll probably be spending your vacation in the wrong country.

Too Bad Natalie Wasn’t Made of Wood

November 21, 2011

By Adele

If she had been, she might have stayed afloat until someone answered her cries for help — because God knows the man she married — twice —Robert Wagner, wasn’t going to do it. He didn’t even identify her body once it was found.

Unless you’ve been under a rock, you’ve probably heard that the 30-year-old suspicious drowning case of Natalie Wood has been re-opened. It was the freaking lead story on the NBC Nightly News. (Shame on you, Brian Williams!)

Dennis Davern, captain of Natalie’s yacht, Splendour — a.k.a. “world’s worst TV interviewee” (ask David Gregory, whose attempts to get Davern to make a point on the Today Show failed utterly) — co-wrote a book about it in 2009. Goodbye Natalie, Goodbye Splendour must not have made enough of a, uh, splash, because Davern’s out there trying to churn things up again without actually saying anything.

Natalie was on her boat with Robert Wagner and her co-star in Brainstorm at the time, Christopher Walken (who has now lawyered up), when an argument started, possibly over an alleged affair between Natalie and Walken.

Walken went to bed while Natalie and Wagner continued to fight. There had been a lot of drinking all evening.

At some point, Natalie, in a flannel nightgown, socks, and a jacket, went over the side. She was deathly afraid of the water.

Wagner knew it, and Captain Davern says Wagner told him not to turn on the searchlight and check the water when Davern realized Natalie was missing.


There were only so many places on that boat Natalie could go. Did Wagner think she’d hopped into bed with Walken? Did he hope to punish her by letting her tread water for a while?

Or in the heat of battle, did he push her, and fear how she’d spin it if she lived to tell about it?

The police are now saying Wagner still isn’t a suspect, although he was the last one with Natalie.

I’m not saying Robert Wagner intended to drown Natalie Wood, but he knows exactly what happened and he knows what he DIDN’T do to save her.

Robert Wagner needs to come clean. If the police can’t bring themselves to get answers out of him, then they should stop wasting taxpayer money to help the perp get away with it — AGAIN.

Never Drop the Soap at Penn State

November 17, 2011

By Cole

It’s not often we agree with Sarah Palin (OK, never), but if the allegations about Jerry Sandusky are true, we’re sorry she said, “Hang him from the highest tree. I’ll bring the rope,” before we did.

We’re spitting mad because the man has brought disgrace to a school whose mascot is a big cat!

How could any man, especially a strapping football player like Mike McQueary, see a 10-year-old boy being ass-raped by Jerry Sandusky and not yell, “Hey, Jerry! Stop that right NOW!” or even better, throw a punch and deck the perv?

Unless maybe Mike has been there, done that himself. It would certainly explain his passivity now.

You must have heard about Sandusky’s lethal confession/interview on Rock Center, where he insisted everyone is lying about him. He claimed the kid McQueary saw him with had turned on all the showers to slide across the floor, and the “slap, slap, slaps” McQueary heard were Jerry and the boy snapping wet towels.

But what responsible adult lets a buck-naked kid slide across a slimy, germ-infested locker room shower floor? That kid probably still has athlete’s ass.

The Catholic Church must be sighing with relief at this breathtaking display of laissez-faire by every man who knew something wasn’t right about Sandusky.

“See, we aren’t the only ones who think man-on-boy action is A-OK!”

Some have speculated that Joe Paterno and that janitor who saw Sandusky giving a boy a blow job didn’t want to “intrude.” It makes you wonder how they’d have reacted if Sandusky had been buggering their own kids, or perhaps they consider sodomy a rite of passage.

Sandusky’s lawyer, Joe Amendola, was on stage with Bob Costas on Rock Center while Costas sank Sandusky so deep into the doo-doo of guilt, nothing short of a miracle will save him.

But Amendola still says he believes Sandusky’s innocent. For that to be true, these are the only possible scenarios I see:

1. The authorities can’t identify and track down the 8 boys (now men), and they don’t voluntarily come forward (although one allegedly plans to).

2. Sandusky has already gotten to the boys and bought their silence, possibly years ago.

3. Some of the boys do come forward and THANK Sandusky for “mentoring” them through the difficult phase when they first became aware of their homosexual tendencies, and because of him they are now proud gay men in fulfilling relationships and don’t want to press charges.

By denying these acts on national TV in the creepiest, most evasive possible way, instead of just admitting he’s a predator (if he is), Sandusky has declared open season on himself and I think it’s only going to get uglier.

Mister Ed, Movie Star

November 16, 2011

By Adele

Karen left us cats in charge today with orders not to generate controversy, so I’m sharing the best news I’ve heard since Sarah Palin finally admitted she’s not running for president.

Fox 2000 is going to make a feature film of the 1960s hit TV series starring my favorite horse, Mister Ed.

Back in 2004, someone tried to revive Mister Ed as a TV series — with a few changes. For example, they named the owner Wilbur Pope, which was the name originally used, but changed to Wilbur Post after the pilot episode.

Also, in the 2004 series the Popes had a son, which the Posts never did. Wilbur and Carol were newlyweds when the series began.

And in a breathtaking stroke of miscasting, the voice of Mister Ed was to be none other Sherman Helmsley, a.k.a. George Jefferson. So apparently they envisioned Mister Ed 2004 as a jive-talking turkey.

Mister Ed himself was never cast, and the whole project fell through.

In this new movie, they say Mister Ed will have a computer-generated mouth. I don’t know if it’s because Hollywood thinks today’s horses are stupid, or because computer jockeys are cheaper to hire than horse trainers.

The animated mouth cop-out only makes the original Ed’s achievement all the more amazing. Watch him in his opening credits…

Here’s some Ed trivia: Alan Young (Wilbur) made up the story that they used peanut butter to make Ed’s mouth move. They really put a loose piece of nylon thread in his lips to tickle them so Ed would try to dislodge the thread.

But by the end of the first season, Ed had figured out he was supposed to “talk” whenever the camera was running and Wilbur stopped talking. In the second season, Ed was mouthing his own dialogue. They had someone crouching off-camera to tap Ed on the leg as a cue to STOP talking.

And it only took Ed’s trainer about 15 minutes to teach Ed any of the physical stuff he did. Once Ed learned the stunt, he always performed it perfectly. Alan Young once said (and I paraphrase) that Ed made him a better actor because if Young fluffed his lines and caused several retakes, Ed would begin to think it was something he was doing wrong and he’d start improvising.

Bonus: Ed’s real name was Bamboo Harvester. He died in 1970, 4 years after the show went off the air, at the age of 21, from an accidental overdose of tranquilizer given by a temporary caregiver. On the show he played an 8-year-old, but he was actually 12 when filming started.

Why the GOP is Like the 4th of July

November 14, 2011

By Cole

Here’s a riddle: What do the misfits and intellectually-challenged opportunists vying for the Republican nomination have in common with Independence Day?

Fireworks. One by one they have been catapulted by their gullible followers to the heights of the polls. They hover for a time, all sparkly and beautiful and full of promise, and everybody “Oohs” and “Aahs” at their brilliance.

But then their flash is exhausted, they’ve got no substance to keep them aloft, and they fall back to earth.

Last week it was Rick Perry’s turn to flame out. After making an ass of himself almost every time he opened his mouth until he swore off debates altogether, they pulled him back in. That tells you right there he’s not cut out to tangle with whichever foreign despots we haven’t killed off.

And Perry obliged by really stepping in it. Herman Cain owes him a big one for deflecting the heat.

Don’t you just love listening to buffoons bragging about all the government agencies they’ll unilaterally wipe out — and then in the next breath reveal they have no idea what they’re talking about?

Poor Herman seems to be showing signs of early-onset dementia in his inability to remember any of the women who clearly remember him groping dissing them.

And now Rick Perry’s making George W. Bush look like Demosthenes.

And yet Perry and Cain act like they should get a pass for their inability to convey articulate or honest thought. After 8 years of Bush, and the U.S. declaring open season on heads of state we don’t like, it’s hard to imagine the rest of the world taking yet another mush-mouth in the Oval Office in stride.

Next up in the fireworks display: Newt Gingrich. He’s been one of those stealth types, but they’re running out of options so he’s he’s approaching his zenith and will have to show us what he’s got. It’s almost a certainty that some news hound will drag yet another skeleton out Newt’s walk-in closet, and he’ll end up on the ash-heap with the rest.

Meanwhile, Mitt Romney quietly lies in the shadows, waiting for his party to put away the garlic and the crosses, open his lid, and beg him to suck the life out of Obama.

Letterman Gives Bourdain a Pass

November 9, 2011

By Karen

On Monday, November 7, TMZ published a few pictures of Anthony Bourdain naked in a swimming pool with a sous chef while he was on vacation in 1999 on St. Martin. That same night, Tony appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman.

Bourdain pre-empted TMZ the previous weekend on Twitter by posting one of the photos himself, complete with TMZ’s tasteful red star obscuring his “nasty bits.” Tony mentioned that the photographer was his former wife, Nancy. Given the year, I assume Nancy was using film and got prints.

What I’m wondering is: How did TMZ end up with them?

It seems unlikely that Tony gave friends prints of himself floating in a pool naked with another man. So that leaves Nancy. While they were married (remember, at this time, he had dedicated two novels to her and fictionalized her as a heroine with near-super powers), would she have shared nude photos of her husband with anyone?

Fast-forward to 2011: Bourdain has moved on with a new family and we’ve never heard a peep out of Nancy. Could she have surfaced and tried to embarrass him, or did someone else have the photos and use them? If so, why?

Tony and Ottavia are rightfully treating it all as a big joke (Ottavia tweeted he looks like “beef jerky”). After all, he posed long ago for the provocative “boner” picture which is far superior, if seeing Bourdain naked is your thing.

Commenters on various websites have noted that the circumstances in St. Martin seem gay.

If Dave Letterman hadn’t been asleep at the switch, he could have asked Tony to enlighten us on this incident and been among the few to ever get Bourdain on the ropes. Instead, Dave did a ho-hum promo for Tony’s new show, The Layover, and lobbed in a few softball questions about food. Here’s the whole interview:

In other news…

On Sunday, November 13, cartoon Tony guest-stars on The Simpsons in an episode where Marge becomes a food blogger.

Eater posted an hour-long video of Bourdain with crew members Tom Vitale, Zach Zamboni, and Todd Liebler, at Google NY on October 20. Tony’s in fine form discussing why No Reservations is the best travel show on TV.

The Dallas Observer reported that ZAMIR, of all people, appeared on stage with Bourdain there on October 27. PS: If you’re on the fence about whether to watch Top Chef Texas, which just started its season, in case Tony drops by — Tony confirmed he won’t.

Tony’s new show, The Layover, begins Monday, November 21, in his usual 9 p.m. slot (barring Travel Channel yanking it for no reason). Eater did some good speculation on any possible symbolism in the bizarre promotional poster.

No Reservations has been nominated for a Taste (Tasty?) Award as Best TV Food Program. The ceremony is in Hollywood January 3.

HuffPost asked Tony 10 questions, to which he provided some interesting responses, although nothing out of character.

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