The 2015 Preakness Conundrum

May 15, 2015

By Adele

After watched the Kentucky Derby on May 2, my little kitty heart is in pieces — three to be exact — going into the Preakness Stakes on May 16.

I had rooted for Big Brown’s son, Dortmund, to continue his lifetime streak with a 7th win in the Derby, but he came in third, behind American Pharoah and Firing Line. Dortmund had outrun Firing Line in their previous two races, so the Line showed Dortmund what hell payback can be.

American Pharoah and Dortmund are both trained by Bob Baffert, and he has them stabled at Pimlico side-by-side, so they’re practically roomies.

Once any horse wins the Kentucky Derby, I believe it’s poor sportsmanship to wish him not to take the Triple Crown, so my fair side wants to see American Pharoah win the Preakness.

But deep down I still want Dortmund win it. Baffert says this may be Dortmund’s race because he’ll like the distance, shorter than the Derby by 1/16 mile.

And then we have poor Firing Line, who’s endured second-place finishes in his last three races against these two, yet he’s gamely trying to win for the fourth time.

All three have to be pooped, since the Derby was only two weeks ago. For the Preakness, American Pharoah and Dortmund forebodingly drew post positions 1 and 2 at the rail, respectively, while Firing Line got the far outside pp 8.

That’s the good news. Only 8 horses in the field this time. Mr. Z (pp 3) and Danzig Moon (pp 4) also ran in the Derby, placing 13th and 5th, respectively. The remaining 3 horses are new faces, and I’m not considering any of them.

All eyes will be on American Pharoah, Dortmund, and Firing Line in this year’s Triple Crown menage à trois. If American Pharoah can’t do it, then I want Dortmund and Firing line each to win the Preakness and Belmont and make it a team triumph.

As always, may the best horse win, and may they all cross the finish line safely.


A Cat’s 2015 Kentucky Derby Picks

May 1, 2015

By Adele

I couldn’t be more excited about the Kentucky Derby May 2 because I have a special favorite at last. At 3-1 odds, it’s Dortmund, son of 2008 Derby and Preakness winner, Big Brown.

Like dear old dad, Dortmund comes to the Derby with an unbeaten record. He’s 6-0, after winning the Santa Anita Derby on April 4 by 4 1/4 lengths. He’ll be in post position 8 under jockey Martin Garcia. Dortmund is the first of Big Brown’s progeny to show the potential to fill Brownie’s horseshoes.

Dortmund’s got a half-sister by Big Brown named Puca running in the morning in the Kentucky Oaks, the derby for fillies. She’s only won one of her 6 lifetimes starts, and starting on the outside in pp 14, but we’re rooting for Puca.

But I digress…

Dortmund is competing against two horses who each twice came close to winning in Dortmund’s last 4 races, if not for him. Ironically, all three are running side by side from the gate, with Bolo (30-1) in pp 9 and Firing Line (12-1) in pp 10. Will they be the most motivated to make Dortmund eat their dust?

The race also features a couple of other celebrity kids…

Materiality (12-1) in pp 3 under Javier Castellano also comes to the Derby with an unbeaten records, but he’s only run 3 previous races so far. His dad is Afleet Alex, the amazing horse who got clipped in the stretch and stumbled badly in the 2005 Preakness before winning it in record time, and then winning the Belmont. It was heart-stopping. If Materiality has half of his dad’s gumption, I’d say he has a shot to show.

And then there’s Keen Ice, son of Curlin, Big Brown’s old nemesis. Keen’s in pp 13 under Kent Desoremeaux. His odds are 50-1 because he’s only won one race in 7 so far. But I wouldn’t mind if he showed, too.

The people’s favorite is American Pharoah. For some reason, he’s considered the most talented horse, having won 4 of his 5 lifetime races, usually leaving the contenders far in his wake. He’s in pp 17 under Victor Espinoza with 5-2 odds.

Dortmund seems to like taking the lead, but when he can’t, he has this secret extra gear that kicks in as he’s heading for home. I expect this Derby to be dominated by Dortmund and American Pharoah, and I’ve got paws crossed that Dortmund’s winning streak will continue so he can make his dad Brownie proud and revive the Triple Crown dream.

May all the horses run safely across the finish line.


Bourdain’s Got a Bone in the Throat: the Movie

March 20, 2015

By Karen

Not all fans may know that Anthony Bourdain was a chef/moonlighting novelist before he hit bestsellerdom with his nonfiction restaurant exposé, Kitchen Confidential, in 2000.

Bourdain published his first crime novel, Bone in the Throat, in 1995, followed in 1997 by another one, Gone Bamboo.

Over the past few years, Bourdain’s career hit critical mass and now he’s on a roll, with one success after another. I knew he’d arrived when his birthday appeared last year in the “Born This Day” list of the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Anyway, actor Ed Westwick plays Will Reeves (called Tommy Pagana in the book), an aspiring chef who works under this guy, whom I don’t believe ever gets named…

The chef, the tallest one, was pale and thin, with long brown hair that curled out from under his chef’s hat. He held a copy of Larousse Gastronomique and was turning the pages furiously. He wore the hat high on his forehead and pulled straight back like a skullcap. A cigarette dangled from his mouth.

In chapter 18, we get more description of this chef…

His face in the bathroom mirror was pale and bloodless. Tiny pupils floated around in watery, bloodshot eyes. His thick brown hair was too long, sticking up at odd angles, and his sideburns were uneven…. One tooth was missing on the right side, but you couldn’t see it; there was one crumbling molar on the left, also invisible to the casual observer, and a chipped eyetooth.

The chef moved his eyes down over his naked, bony chest: protruding ribs, the stomach that was showing the beginnings of a paunch. He examined his arms. There were no tracks to speak of, only a small, yellowish bruise in the crook of his left arm.

Remind you of anyone we know?

Well, I’m sure the paunch must be gone since he took up MMA and lost 30 lbs., and his arms are now covered with tattoos.

The story for the movie was transported from Manhattan to London’s East End for some reason, and premiered March 14 at a film festival at the Alamo Ritz in Austin, Texas. Here’s the trailer…

The Austin Chronicle gave it a positive review.

Variety, not so glowing.

The movie’s official website includes some recipes, although food isn’t a central character.

I doubt this flick will ever make it to a Richmond screen, but that gives me time to reread the book before I get my hands on it.

Having read both novels years ago, I remember little about the plots. But I do recall laughing out loud at Bourdain’s sharp dialogue and vivid, witty descriptions of the seedy gangster underworld his imagination dwelled in.

Diving back into his fiction is one task on my To-Do list that I eagerly look forward to doing.


If Not for Hate, then Killing for Nothing is Better?

February 12, 2015

By Cole

So Craig Hicks in Chapel Hill, NC, a father of two, shot in the head, execution-style, three college students in his condo complex: a 23-year-old man, his 21-year-old wife of only a few months, and the wife’s visiting 19-year-old sister. All the victims happened to be Muslim, and the women wore traditional Muslim dress. They were murdered inside the condo the newlyweds shared, presumably after letting Hicks in the door.

Hicks later turned himself in to police and his wife made a statement that the murders weren’t because her husband hates Muslims. No, her husband’s beef was over a parking space.

Oh, OK. That sounds SO much more reasonable.

By all appearances, it was a little of both. We may learn that Hicks is a man who pays attention to just enough news or right-wing propaganda to think all Muslims place no value on human life because they allow an Islamic lunatic fringe group (ISIS) to rampage among them in the Middle East, destroying towns and killing mostly other Muslims.

And Hicks has the good fortune to live in a country where any idiot can own a gun and think it’s a good idea to murder THREE people over a parking space because they shouldn’t mind being dead.

There’s plenty of blame to go around here, but I place most of it on a cowardly Congress for allowing the NRA to bully it into continuing to give even the stupidest humans the right to bear arms.

Just like in the Muslim world with ISIS, when is the body count in the U.S. ever going to be high enough for decent people to start demanding strict federal gun control laws to rein in the madness?

I say “federal” because the states can’t handle it. In Virginia, it’s perfectly legal for kids UNDER AGE FOUR to shoot firearms.

So what will we tolerate next, toddler-inflicted fatalities over who gets to ride the swings at daycare?

 


Is Brian Williams Finished?

February 6, 2015

By Cole

So Brian Williams suffers from fantasy flashbacks of getting shot down in a helicopter in Iraq in 2003, and talks as if it really happened. And soldiers who were flying with Williams in safety, and those in the helicopter actually shot down, had no luck ever setting the record straight.

I have nothing against Brian Williams. He can be a funny guy, personally. But as a trusted purveyor of “news,” he’s become hopeless. This “bombshell” revelation that he makes stuff up to stay in the game is unsurprising.

It’s sad if NBC considers Brian Williams “the face” of NBC news. Obviously, NBC, in trying to attract a younger audience that won’t sit still to watch TV news anyway, doesn’t realize it has reduced the Nightly News to a useless pile of lint.

These days, if Williams is having a good night, he’ll report current events for about 12 minutes, until the first commercials, then spout entertainment or human-interest garbage the rest of his time. We defected permanently after his leading the broadcast with football “news” seemed to become habitual. Regular Cats Working readers know why.

When it comes learning what’s happening out there, you can’t beat BBC World (with Katty Kay, naturally). For the American perspective, we now watch Scott Pelley on CBS. His delivery style can dry paint, but at least his priorities seem straighter.

Pelley talks about what’s worth knowing usually for about 18 minutes, through the second commercial break, and sometimes even for the whole half-hour.

In contrast, BBC World on PBS always fills 30 commercial-free minutes with solid world events, giving maybe 3 minutes at the end to a feel-good story.

So, to answer my original question, I’d say yes, Brian Williams is finished. But not for lying about his exploits in Iraq. He’s been irrelevant for quite some time.


What Makes a Comeback Next? Polio?

February 3, 2015

By Adele

Parents who buy in to the nonscience that getting their children vaccinated will turn the little darlings into idiots should be much more concerned about the effects of heredity on brain development.

The last thing they needed was New Jersey governor Chris Christie adding his two cents by saying that, although he had all his kids vaccinated, “parents need to have some measure of choice.”

Granted, parents should be able to choose whether to let the kids have a puppy. Or at what age they’re mature and responsible enough to use the stove, stay home alone, or start dating.

But parents deserve NO “measure of choice” when it comes to letting their kids become walking public health hazards.

Measles, which can be deadly, was virtually extinct in the United States until the “anti-vaccers,” as they’re called, spurred on by “medical experts” like Michele Bachmann and Rand Paul, chose to ignore scientific fact and go exposed.

Pet owners, BY LAW, must vaccinate dogs and cats against rabies. Yet any idiot human today can pop out a child and knowingly let it become a carrier or victim of any number of serious, even fatal, illnesses, including chickenpox, mumps, whooping cough, hepatitis, bacterial meningitis, diphtheria, and polio, to name a few.

It makes absolutely no sense.

President Obama has said all parents should get their kids vaccinated. OK, then he should work with Congress to make vaccinating children the national law.

Leave it to parents to decide whether or not to make their kids wear tags showing they’ve had their shots, just like pet owners do.

This is a nonpartisan matter of homeland security — and the threat is coming from the inside. To safeguard public health, we need to mandate common sense to those who lack it. Who needs foreign terrorists when we can decimate ourselves with our own germs and viruses?

 


One Inch of Snow, Richmond Paralyzed

January 27, 2015

By Cole

It’s noon and I’m sitting on my cozy kitty perch watching snowflakes meander down, even though our local weather gurus said the snowfall would end by 9-10 a.m., tops.

Their inaccuracy aside, I’m kind of embarrassed to be a Southern domestic shorthair today.

Richmond must have really, really, REALLY wanted to be part of the “big snow event” that just whumped the Northeast. When we woke up this morning, local meteorologists on the 3 major networks (ABC, CBS, NBC) refused to cede to the national morning shows, which were, presumably, discussing actual blizzard conditions north of here.

Instead, our guys stood steadfastly in front of maps showing puny and fast-dwindling snowstorms across the area, trying to whip us all into a frenzy that there was something life-threatening afoot.

They had reporters in thick parkas and knit caps posted all over town with little rulers, futilely trying to find somewhere to measure an inch of snow.

Even the school districts embraced the madness and canceled school at the last minute so the little darlings could stay curled up with their toasty Xboxes, rather than battle “treacherous conditions” in some feckless pursuit of an education.

Richmond “International” Airport canceled some flights. Morning commuters were urged to stay off the roads unless they absolutely had to go out, so many vacation days were probably called in for nothing.

I say “nothing” because, by 11 a.m., our residential backstreet had no trace of snow. Karen didn’t shovel because the driveway was already clean, too.

People, get a grip. We got less than an inch. OK, maybe an inch in some spots. But a blizzard?

Adele calls this a classic “head up our own ass” moment. There’s nothing more embarrassing than watching fellow Southerners throw a hissy fit over a mere dusting, while those who are seriously butt-deep in snow aren’t whining.


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