Chapter 113: COVID Chronicles

July 27, 2020

By Karen

Day 138

Cats are BAACCKK! & More TV Time

The humidity is still terrible in Richmond. I’ve lost count of how many weeks straight it’s been feeling over 100o with only occasional violent thunderstorms. No end in sight.

Confederate statues continue to disappear. One night last week they spirited away a bunch of busts and figures from the state Capitol (including a Robert E. Lee), while a court battle still rages over the the huge Lee statue on horseback standing on Monument Avenue.

Virginia has yet another Lee statue at the Washington, D.C., Capitol and wants to remove it but hasn’t decided what to replace it with.

In the meantime, our only daily newspaper, the Richmond Times-Dispatch, must delight in having Civil War “news” for the front page every day.

Tony Rubberband Update: It’s been 10 days since I think Tony swallowed the rubberband and so far we have had no “outcome.” I wonder if having that much indigestible elastic in his tummy will work like stomach stapling to lower his capacity and he’ll lose some weight. So far he seems fine. He got right up in my face to say “Hi”…

Max and Roc have finally reached an amicable sharing arrangement on the couch, and mostly take orderly turns. Max even returned to the rocker for a spell…

And Roc, lying in the path of a fan as always, says “Howdy!”…

Movie Recommendation: I don’t know what made me DVR it, but I caught this absolute confection of a movie last week from 2008 called Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, a light, lavish 1930s-style Art Deco screwball comedy, complete with Cole Porter music.

To top it off, the cast included a few actors I love, like Stephanie Cole (Waiting for God, Doc Martin) and Tom Payne of Prodigal Son on Fox.

Prodigal Son is in the second half of its first season, and I’d liken it to a less gory Dexter. Payne plays Malcolm Bright, the son of a serial killer known as “The Surgeon,” a real-life surgeon with a family who committed at least 23 murders on the side. Payne grew up unwittingly learning the ropes from his father and now works as a profiler with the NYPD.

The show would be your typical murder of the week police procedural except that Malcolm has mysteries from his past to unravel. While trying to do that and solve crimes, Malcolm often has to consult with his father, who’s now in prison, crazy-brilliant and still homicidal.

Michael Sheen (Masters of Sex) plays The Surgeon. In the few scenes he gets, he always steals the show and keeps drawing the other characters to him like an evil magnetic force. Anyway, I love it.

BONUS: Randy Rainbow raided West Side Story to compose “Gee, Anthony Fauci!”…

DOUBLE BONUS: Trump’s in his last 99 days of playing a tyrant, and comedian Sarah Cooper shows how he mastered “person, woman, man, camera TV”…

PS: As Mary Trump’s been making the talk show rounds to promote her book, Too Much and Never Enough, I’d like just one journalist to ask her why she thinks Trump became a Republican to run for president. I feel sure the answer would be a real sock in the jaw to his supporters.

PPS: I’m now on a twice-weekly schedule, planning posts for Mondays and Thursdays.

Chapter 110: COVID Chronicles

July 16, 2020

By Karen

Day 127

Mad About Good Bones & Artichoke Hearts Aren’t Forever

The only home fixer-upper program I watch is Good Bones on HGTV. Season 5 is underway right now. It stars the mother-daughter team of Karen Laine and Mina Starsiak Hawk. They live in Indianapolis and have a construction company called Two Chicks and a Hammer. They’re not flippers in the sense that they buy homes on the cheap, make cosmetic improvements (like what was done to the house next door to me recently), and then sell for maximum profit.

Instead, they seek out the most rotten, run-down ruins and reconstruct them, reclaiming as much from the original house as is safely possible. Then they install stylish yet practical finishes and go to great lengths to stage them to attract buyers.

Mina is also a real estate agent, and Karen was an attorney before she took up construction. They’re so fun together. Mina is the sensible bean-counter and Karen is whimsically New Age. I adore Karen, and while writing this, I discovered her birthday is the day before mine, so we’re both Libras.

This season, Karen has pulled back from the back-breaking renovations and instead focuses on turning trash she salvages from the houses into treasures through various DIY projects. She puts the results back in the houses as part of their history. I’ve seen her transform pianos, mantels, vent covers, light fixtures, doorknobs, panes of glass, even wallpaper into lovely new things.

Another family member who appears regularly is Mina’s half-brother Tad, who leads the demotion crew. That job is often disgusting thanks to what previous occupants left behind — especially in fridges and toilets.

The demo guys are like Tasmanian Devils and often have to reduce the houses to their studs, then clean up the unbelievable mess they make.

The homes are usually modest, with two or three bedrooms, so they’re affordable for normal people. Karen and Mina are also shown buying their materials from local businesses to showcase Indianapolis in a way that makes it look like a very nice place to live.

What surprises me is how many derelict homes there seem to be there. But these women have been at this since 2007 and they’re reviving entire sections of town. Now you often see one of their previous projects beside the one they’re working on.

There’s also a bonus offshoot called Good Bones: Down to the Studs where the crew discusses past projects with funny behind-the-scenes scoop on the how those went.

Since the show started, Mina has gotten married and had a baby named Jack. She’s a rough-and-ready type and seemed to stay involved in the heavy stuff almost right up to her delivery. Now she’s pregnant again and due in September.

Since both women are taking new directions, I hope this isn’t their last season. At the very least, Karen should host her own crafts show.

Here’s some great video, narrated by Mina, that lays out the show’s amazing evolution better than I could…

FOOD TIP: If you remember, several weeks ago I threw a few artichoke hearts into some leftover pasta salad I was jazzing up. The nearly full jar has been in the fridge ever since. Well, today I wanted them, but they were covered with green mold and had to get tossed. Lesson learned: Artichoke hearts ≠ pickles and olives. I had no idea.

BONUS: Comedian Sarah Cooper on How to Immigration…

Chapter 108: COVID Chronicles

July 14, 2020

By Karen

Day 125

Fridge is Full Again & Trump’s Got New Hairdo

I still have a few days’ worth of Chinese leftovers, but talk about states possibly going back into hard lockdown got me worried. I decided not to let the cupboard get any more bare and ventured over to Food Lion.

Turns out Tuesday morning is a great time to grocery-shop. No crowd at all. An employee gave me a sanitized cart as I entered and everyone wore masks (probably because the sign on the door said you can’t come in unless you do).

Two-fer deals were everywhere, so I stocked up more than I would have, such as with two jars of Kraft Light Mayonnaise that will probably get me to 2022. I also didn’t resist a small chocolate cake, Edy’s double chocolate ice cream with chocolate chips, and some actual chocolate. Can never have enough chocolate in the house.

The tab broke all previous grocery records at $145, but I hadn’t shopped since June 13, so that really wasn’t too bad.

Mary Trump’s book, Too Much and Never Enough, finally dropped this morning onto my iPad. In the prologue she describes 2017 when the whole family got comped to spend exactly one night at Trump’s D.C. hotel and was bused to the White House for exactly two hours to celebrate Trump sisters Maryanne and Elizabeth’s birthdays over lunch. They were first given a tour, where Trump bragged that he’d decorated the house “better” than when George Washington lived there.

However, the White House wasn’t finished until after Washington died. John Adams was the first resident. So many of Trump’s silly, pointless, self-aggrandizing lies are easily debunked with a quick Google search, yet his compulsion to spew them is chronic.

Mary also implores the media to stop discussing Trump’s “strategies” and “agenda” because he has none. She confirms that he lives minute to minute.

THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT I SAID BACK IN 2018. In fact, reading Mary’s book, I’m struck by our similarities in describing him; her voice has the added gravitas of a Ph.D. in clinical psychology.

Meanwhile, Trump’s deterioration continues. Yesterday, instead of giving him a podium to cling to, Trump’s White House handlers sat him at the end of a hallway (because he couldn’t stand without falling over?) to take reporters’ questions. He had this weird new thing going on with his hair, which it’s been reported he insists on styling himself. See if you can detect it. I’ve given you a little hint…

TV TIP: Last night I found a six-episode, one-off 2019 Britcom on Amazon Prime called Warren, starring Martin “Doc Martin” Clunes. This time he’s Warren Thompson, a curmudgeonly middle-class bloke, self-employed as a driving instructor, who lives in quaint Preston, Lancashire, with his nothing-special but loving girlfriend and her two teenage sons. I’m enjoying it. It’s fun to watch Clunes doing comedy, and he’s good at it. Here’s a sampling…

BONUS: This 20-years-published anniversary analysis of Anthony Bourdain’s life-changing (for him) book, Kitchen Confidential, is worth a read.

PS: I checked on Bourdain’s artwork auction, and it still stands at the $1,000 minimum, with no bids yet.

Chapter 102: COVID Chronicles

July 8, 2020

By Karen

Day 119

Robert E. Lee Stands Alone & Catching Up With the Kitties

Yesterday the statue of General J.E.B. Stuart came down…

Photo James H. Wallace, Richmond Times-Dispatch

Now the only Confederate left standing on Monument Avenue is Robert E. Lee, and he’s probably feeling like it’s Appomattox all over again.

There’s still no word on where the statues are hidden or what’s going to be done with them.

Next up on the Virginia To-Do list should be banning the Confederate Flag, which promises to raise an even bigger stink than the statues. I’m surprised Trump isn’t flying one over the White House right now, just for spite.

Speaking of Trump, the publication date of his niece Mary’s book, Too Much and Never Enough, has been moved up to July 14. I’ll be downloading the e-book as soon as I get the green light. Fingers crossed that hearing every cable news talking head laughing at him and swapping anecdotes about what a fucked-up little demon-child Trump was will accelerate his meltdown.

Richmond has had several straight weeks of humid weather over 90o. Even with central air and fans, we feel it and I’m more often drenched in sweat than not. Roc finds it cooler to nap on my recycle paper than in his comfy bed…

Yesterday, new collars for Roc and Tony arrived. Yes, I still hope Tony will one day accept wearing a collar so he doesn’t look like a stray.

As it turns out, that day has not yet arrived. As soon as Tony was in his new collar, he deflated. He kept scratching at his neck and shuffling around with his head down. His usual joie de vivre was gone. He’s already a virtuoso when it comes to playing me. So, Max got the new collar instead and he seems very satisfied with it…

Tony checked out Roc’s handsome new look…

Tony is obsessed by shadows. This morning he thought he saw something on the wall and we had this brief exchange (listen carefully) about it, but he finally agreed it was nothing…

BONUS: Did you happen to catch Trump saying he’d wear a mask if he had to? He wore a black one once and thought it made him look “like the Lone Ranger.” Comedian Sarah Cooper shows us how effective that would be…

PS: In case you’re unfamiliar with The Lone Ranger, here’s what his mask looked like…

And yet Trumpers are still out there believing Trump’s just fine.

Chapter 99: COVID Chronicles

July 5, 2020

By Karen

Day 116

Kitties Hate Fireworks & Catching Up on Movies

Last night, Roc and Tony were jumpy during the barrage of July 4 fireworks, celebratory 2nd Amendment gunfire and explosives that went off mainly between 9:00 and 10:00 p.m. We felt some big booms quite close to the house, but I couldn’t see who was behind them. Through the trees, I did catch a bit of the fireworks, but I have no idea who put on that show.

This was really Tony’s first Independence Day. Last year, he was a tiny four-week-old kitten fighting to survive.

I was just refreshing on Tony’s roots in his paperwork, and discovered a freaky coincidence. It appears Tony and Roc are both alumni of the Happy Tails rescue in Abingdon, which is in the western corner of Virginia. The Richmond Animal League takes in animals from shelters that euthanize or do fewer adoptions so the little guys have a better shot at finding a forever home. So, Tony and Roc took exactly the same path to find me.

When movies are released and I don’t get to the cinema, I put them on a watch list and check periodically to see if they’ve made it to TV. I just caught two.

The first was A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, with Ton Hanks wonderfully channeling the gentle spirit of Mr. Rogers…

His co-star is Matthew Rhys (The Americans), who starts out as a cynical investigative journalist who initially resents being assigned a 400-word magazine fluff piece on Rogers. He morphs it into a 10,000-word cover story, and the friendship with Mr. Rogers that develops changes his outlook.

As a kid, I preferred Captain Kangaroo and Romper Room to Mr. Rogers. But after seeing this movie, I regret it. After you watch, you’ll feel better about the world — until the next time Trump opens his mouth.

Aside: I’m watching Matthew Rhys in an HBO prequel/remake of Perry Mason. Here, Perry is a seedy private investigator working a baby kidnapping and murder case. I find Rys convincing, but after two episodes, I don’t see how or why anyone felt compelled to call him Perry Mason, nor how he’ll make the leap from grubby PI to slick  attorney. He gets his clean ties off stiffs in the city morgue.

The other movie that blew me away was The Good Liar, with Helen Mirren and Ian McKellen. They “randomly” meet through online dating and it’s immediately revealed that McKellen is a swindler who’ll con anyone for a buck. His partner in crime is, of all people, Mr. Carson from Downton Abbey (Jim Carter).

When McKellen determines that Mirren is a well-off widow, he plays on her sympathy until she invites him to stay in her house as her companion.

As his and Carson’s scheme to clean her out gains momentum, you’re rooting for Mirren, hoping she’s really the better liar and figures out a way to save herself. But the ending has a twist I didn’t see coming. It was mind-blowing, yet satisfying. No spoilers here.

Chapter 96: COVID Chronicles

July 2, 2020

By Karen

Day 113

Stonewall Jackson is DOWN & I Locate TV’s Bottom

Yesterday afternoon, during violent thunderstorms, a crew from Connecticut came and lifted from their pedestal Stonewall Jackson and his horse on Monument Avenue. They were trucked to a secret storage location as a crowd watched and cheered. (I think for a minute they were chanting “Fuck the statues.”)…

Never missing any chance to get the Civil War on the front page, the Richmond Times-Dispatch editorial staff must have had a mass orgasm laying out today’s paper…

As of July 1, the Confederate statues became the property of the City of Richmond, and Mayor Levar Stoney immediately ordered them all taken down. I believe as I type this that they’re removing the statue of Matthew Fontaine Maury from Monument Avenue as well.

Robert E. Lee still belongs to the state, and a judge has temporarily blocked his removal, even though Governor Northam has said the thing has to go.

I still feel bad for the horses. They’re all noble and none deserve to be humiliated this way. They didn’t get to choose their riders or which side to fight on.

Once all the statues are gone, I wonder if they’ll go after the White House of the Confederacy downtown, which is now a museum, but was once Confederate President Jefferson Davis’ HQ. I’ve lived here 48 years and if I’ve ever passed this place, I didn’t know it. I think this is a view of the back. The front is nondescript…

Photo Trip Advisor

Around 1977, when I’d been here only five years and was already fed up with Richmond’s Civil War fixation, I was dabbling in bad poetry and wrote a sarcastic poem called “Monument Ave.” In hindsight, I realize it was probably mistaken as a patriot’s ode to Dixie when it was published in the Piedmont Literary Review. You’re in luck! I still have it…

Defeated generals
on green horses
direct traffic
they once
churned the clay
red to cover
the dead
shall rise again.

Leafing through my old binder of poetic output I have mostly no recollection of writing, I’m surprised how much I got published, although it never earned a cent. You got paid in copies if you were lucky.

The other night I happened upon a show on PBS whose very title seems to constitute TV’s official bottom of the barrel. It was, Judi Dench: My Passion for Trees. I’m not kidding. This is a real thing…

Naturally, I DVRed it. And as I sat there later watching it and thinking how this lockdown has finally driven me completely off a cliff, it turned out quite fascinating and I learned a lot.

My father can tell you how protective I am about the many trees on my property. I’ve been known to throw absolute shit-fits (known these days as “going full Karen”) anytime someone prunes them without my permission or suggests cutting them down. I won’t bore you with the technical stuff I learned from Judi, but if you have any interest at all in trees and can catch this, it’s quite good.

BONUS: Melania Trump (a.k.a. actress Laura Benanti) recently visited Stephen Colbert. We haven’t seen her in ages…

Chapter 89: COVID Chronicles

June 25, 2020

By Karen

Day 106

#BourdainDay News from the Home Front

Were Anthony Bourdain still with us, today would have been his 64th birthday. In 2019, his chef friends Eric Ripert and José Andrés began celebrating by designating June 25 #BourdainDay. All that’s required in recognition is to raise a glass or have a great meal that Tony might have loved — which is to say, do whatever makes you happy.

Restaurants all over are featuring specials in his memory. For example, Tojo’s in Vancouver is recreating the seven-course menu served when Bourdain visited in 2008, with a portion of proceeds going to Mind the Bar, a fund for local restaurant workers dealing with depression. Even in death, Bourdain still champions worthy causes.

GoTraveler posted a tribute consisting of early Bourdain TV clips that left me smiling. He was so exuberant when he and his earring embarked his globe-trotting adventure…

I met Anthony Bourdain’s wife Ottavia in November 2009 when several Cats Working readers and I gathered in Washington D.C. to attend the annual Capital Food Fight, which Tony was hosting with José Andrés…

Since then, Ottavia and I have occasionally touched base, and she graciously provided an update on how she and daughter Ariane are doing.

Ottavia’s parents live in Italy’s Lombardy region, which was the epicenter for COVID-19 there. Bourdain once filmed an episode of No Reservations featuring them and other members of Ottavia’s family. Fortunately, they have been able to stay healthy.

But Ottavia wasn’t so lucky. She’s gone back to school to study neurobiology (she had once studied dentistry in Italy before emigrating to the U.S.). In February, she got her EMT (emergency medical technician) license.

She told me she caught COVID-19 in mid-March, probably in school or on the bus, so her plans to begin volunteering as an EMT had to get scratched. Here’s what she told me about coronavirus:

“It was AWFUL. I wasn’t one of the worst cases and I managed to stay out of the hospital, mostly because I have a stethoscope and a pulse oximeter at home and I could check my lungs’ sounds and my oxygen concentration. It took me over three weeks to recover. I still have lingering issues.”

Ottavia is in her early 40s (her 1965 birthdate repeated all over the internet is wildly inaccurate). She describes this lingering aftereffect of COVID that I haven’t seen reported anywhere:

“I had completely lost my sense of smell and could barely taste anything. But things were getting much better until last week, when I started smelling a sinister scent. Like rotten carcass. I was sure there was a dead mouse in the apartment, although Eddie and Ariane couldn’t smell anything. I went on a hunt for hours. But then I realized that I could smell that scent in meat, tuna, coffee, body wash.

“I emailed my doctor, and turns out that many people who recovered from COVID-19, and had lost their sense of smell, are now, weeks later, suffering from parosmia, a distorted sense of smell. For some it’s so bad they can’t even eat because everything tastes like rotten meat.

“I’m sure this too will pass, but it’s a scary virus because there are still so many unknowns. It’s maddening to see how many people are nonchalant about it.”

Ariane and Eddie haven’t gotten sick, and Ariane even tested negative for antibodies, so somehow Ottavia managed to successfully quarantine while they were all living in the same apartment.

Ottavia has had a relationship with Eddie Cummings for several years. They met at Renzo Gracie’s Academy while practicing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

I don’t know how much of a role, if any, BJJ still plays in their lives. Eddie is completing his master’s degree in applied mathematics and plans to go on to Ph.D. studies.

Ottavia is keeping busy with a lot of summer school classes. Last year she told me she wanted to study neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, and would love to earn a Ph.D. in biomedical science.

Daughter Ariane is 13 now and studying for high school admission tests she’ll be taking in the fall. Can you believe how time flies?

It sounds like Ariane has some strong Bourdain genes. She’s already taller than Ottavia. She’s a straight A student. For hobbies, she’s into playing music and painting. Ottavia also reports that Ariane is a great writer.

Ariane is certainly old enough to surf the ‘net, and she does. And what she sometimes finds about her father is disturbing.

In case Ariane’s surfing ever brings her to Cats Working, I want to say that none of us know the full story after 2016. Only after Tony was gone did we learn he’d become deeply entangled in an explosive mess created by that woman he was dating. Had it come out while he was alive, it would have damaged his reputation and possibly ended his relationship with CNN. So, anything he did to keep that woman happy and quiet may have been to protect his own family, not because he preferred her.

Since this woman has never shown the slightest regard or respect for Tony’s family before or after his death, anything she puts online about him can only be construed as self-serving and possibly cruel by intent. She’s firmly established that’s how she rolls. Our only reasonable response is to ignore it and her.

I think I’ll be celebrating #BourdainDay later with a dirty martini. Cheers!

BONUS: has a series of links to amazing tattoos of Bourdain people have posted. Check them out.

Chapter 86: COVID Chronicles

June 22, 2020

By Karen

Day 103

Experiment Update & More British TV

While I read the newspaper every morning, sitting on the living room floor, sometimes I feel eyes on me…

Tony is still basking in the glow of picking actual contenders (even if one was only momentary) in the Belmont Stakes and dreams of doing even better in the Kentucky Derby in September.

Sadly, we’ve suffered two losses. We haven’t seen the cardinals in the holly tree outside the kitchen since Saturday, shortly after I discovered their nest. I think I scared them off and hope there aren’t any eggs now.

And after chives dwindled to one viable stalk in the dirt, I tossed them. That last one’s roots had taken hold and grown. The others had no roots at all. So, if you want to regenerate chives (or green onions or scallions) do it hydroponically.

It was an interesting experiment. But since Tony’s began taking an interest in them and onions are lethal to cats, I had to pull the plug before he accidentally poisoned himself.

I’ve been binge-watching a British detective series on Amazon Prime called DCI Banks, which had five seasons from 2010-2016 and stars Stephen Tompkinson…

DCI Banks reminds me of Doc Martin

In addition to actors Stephen Tompkinson and Martin Clunes resembling each other physically, DCI Banks has Doc Martin’s keen intelligence and determination to get to the bottom of things and do a good job, but minus the Asperger’s.

To top off the comparison, the actress Caroline Catz joined DCI Banks in Season 2 when the female lead Andrea Lowe really got pregnant and took maternity leave (which they wrote into the plot to create some good twists). Catz had played Doc Martin’s love interest Louisa. As DI Helen Morton, her relationship with Banks is platonic because she’s married (and he has the hots for the one who now has a baby). She’s typecast as an uptight, exacting woman who borders on bitchiness, but somehow makes you not hate her.

(Aside: I didn’t immediately connect the dot that Tompkinson also starred for the first few seasons in Ballykissangel as the English priest transplanted to a small parish in Ireland who falls for the mouthy pub owner, another series I loved years ago. Now I may have to revisit that.)…

Photo TV Guide

If you watch British TV, you’ll see other crossovers. Father Brown’s inspector has a regular role, and Father Brown’s criminal nemesis, Flambeau, pops by.

I almost fell off the couch when even Baxter, Lady Cora’s maid from Downton Abbey, played a character who would have given Cora a coronary. (No spoilers!)

One reason I like all these shows is the absence of smartphones. DCI Banks started out in 2010 with a flip phone. Then Catz showed up with her smartphone and there was even a scene where DCI Banks remarked, somewhat annoyed, how much she used it for everything.

By Season 4, smartphones are the usual intrusion. Characters receive meaningful plot turns over the phone and you have to guess what’s going on by their facial reactions or unreadable text message exchanges.

If you have Amazon Prime and like fairly low-tech crime shows, I recommend DCI Banks.

Chapter 85: COVID Chronicles

June 21, 2020

By Tony

Day 102

Belmont Recap & Funny Business in the Holly Tree

For my first time ever seeing a horse race, I’m pretty proud of my predictions for the Belmont Stakes yesterday. I gave Tiz the Law the benefit of the doubt, since he was the humans’ favorite, and they were right. He won.

But there I was, glued to the screen when MY favorite, Fore Left, shifted into high gear and stunned everybody on the track when he looked for a moment like he was going to pull off a big upset…

Here was the leader board…

Unfortunately, Lefty’s boldness motivated the other horses and some of them overtook him. I’m glad his jockey let him relax back to 9th place because it made no sense at that point to run him to death.

One of the horses that charged in the end was my other favorite, Max Player. He really showed his stuff in the stretch and finished third!

At home, we had some excitement, too. It started when Karen noticed some dead branches on the holly tree outside the kitchen window. When she went to investigate, she found this nest…

There’s this cardinal who’s been giving Roc and me the stink-eye from that tree for about a week now. Little did we know he was shacking up out there…

Turns out he’s married. When Karen was tugging on the dead branches before she saw the nest, he and his wife were having a fit, flapping and squawking. Here he is again (top) and his bride…

She doesn’t look anything like a cardinal, so we thought it was a mixed marriage (do birds do that?). But Karen looked it up and girl cardinals are gray. Also, cardinals are monogamous and keep the same mate for life, so rather than the carefree playboybird he made us think he was, he’s spoken for.

The wife plopped down in the nest as soon as Karen came back into the house. This is their mating season, so she’s probably hatching a litter out there. The nest is too high for Karen to peek into. Cardinals are born in about 12 days, so Roc and I are keeping an eye out for a sudden population explosion.

Chapter 84: COVID Chronicles

June 20, 2020

By Tony

Day 101

Tony’s Debut on the Triple Crown Beat

I never knew Adele, but Max and Roc tell me she loved horses and the Triple Crown races — far more than she ever loved THEM, they believe.

Karen says Adele picked some winners, like Animal Kingdom (2011 Kentucky Derby) and Exaggerator (2016 Preakness). Adele even Skyped this funny interview with Exaggerator.

Adele would have HATED what COVID has done to the Triple Crown this year.

Today, Belmont is the first race of the season instead of the last. (NBC, 3:00 p.m. ET, post time 5:42) No fans will be there. It’s only 1 1/8 mile instead of the usual 1 1/2 mile. I understand 1 1/2 miles really pushes the horses, especially when they’re pooped from running in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, all so close together. But this year they’re not, so Belmont is more like a normal race.

Because I’m the TV-loving cat around here, Max and Roc agreed I’m most fit to carry on Adele’s tradition. I think they’re lazy, or afraid she’ll haunt them if they do it and screw up. Or hazing the new kitty.

So I’ve been cramming to learn everything, especially what “odds” are. Thankfully, this Belmont has only 10 horses.

Humans think Tiz the Law has the best shot at winning (odds 6-5) because he’s won four of his five races. But he drew post position 8, which means slightly farther around the track.

Since I’m new to this, I’m not saying Tiz the Law won’t win. But I’ve always been an underdogkitty myself, so I’ve paid more attention to the less likely horses. If they can beat Tiz, it’s a win for all of us.

One I found is Max Player. Why? Look at his name. I’m nothing if not loyal to family. But he’s not some half-digested rubber band I just pulled out of my butt, either. He’s won two of his three races. Today he’s in pp 3 with jockey Joel Rosario and odds 15-1.

Watch his most recent race at Aqueduct on February 4 and see for yourself how amazing Max is…

I’ll admit this next is a dangle from my kitty perch, but I’m picking Fore Left to win (pp 6, jockey Jose Ortiz, odds 30-1). It’s not as crazy as it sounds, and here’s a human who agrees.

Fore Left is the most experienced and worldly horse. He’s won three of nine races, most recently the UAE Two Thousand Guineas on February 6 in Dubai…

And here’s Fore Left in June 2019 winning the Tremont Stakes…

All I’m saying is, if Tiz the Law manages to get closer to the rail and finds himself with a faceful of Fore Left tail, he might as well hang up his horseshoes, he’s glue.

(Am I getting the lingo, or are Max and Roc yanking my tail again?)

Almost forgot: Adele always blessed a race with, “May all the horses run a good race and cross the finish line safely.”

That goes for me, too.

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