Max and Roc offered to help me do my Kentucky Derby (on NBC from 2:30 p.m., post time 6:57 ET) homework since my first Triple Crown season last year was all screwed up by COVID and I never had the benefit of watching Adele pick her ponies like they did. After much spitting, hissing and fur-pulling, these are the horses we all settled on…
First, I should let you know that the humans’ favorite is Essential Quality (under jockey Luis Saez, 3-5 odds as of this minute, post position 14). Essential is undefeated in his five previous races, so he’s someone our preferred horses need to keep an eye on.
We’re not hoping he loses, exactly, but I’d love to prove that we cats are on horses’ wavelength and better at picking winners than humans are.
Our favorite to place at least 2nd is Known Agenda (Irad Ortiz Jr., 22-1, pp 1). He may find running along the rail crowded, and I know his odds seem long, but Max says we need to consider his “blood.”
Agenda is Curlin’s kid. That should mean something to you. And Agenda should be well-rested because he hasn’t raced since he won the Florida Derby in March. With six total races to his credit, (3 wins, one each 2nd and 3rd, and one 5th), he seems solid enough to be a more serious contender than he’s getting credit for.
Our wildcard is Bourbonic (Kendrick Carmouche, 46-1, pp 20). Upon studying his family tree, Max was impressed that Bernardini is his dad and his paternal great-granddad was Seattle Slew.
And on his mother’s side, Bourbonic’s granddad is Afleet Alex, whose fur-raising run in the 2005 Preakness was a sight Karen says she’ll never forget. In the stretch, Alex clipped heels with another horse, almost went to his knees and threw his jockey, but they somehow recovered and won by 4 3/4 lengths. A few weeks later, Alex went on to win the Belmont by 7 lengths.
Since Bourbonic is starting wide in the outside post position and he’s got that incredible Alex juju flowing through him, we believe he has nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Finally, our pick to win is Rock Your World (Joel Rosario, 7-1, pp 15). He’ll come out of the gate right beside Essential Quality and he also has no idea what defeat is. He’s won his first three races and hasn’t been around the track enough to get jaded about racing. Roc especially is rooting for his namesake to maintain his momentum and leave the other horses in his dust as he streaks across that finish line.
And as Adele always said, we have all paws crossed that every horse finishes safely. May the best horse win.
Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain will be shown June 11 at the Tribeca Film Festival (which runs June 9–20 in New York City), then July 16 it will open in theaters. After its theatrical run peters out, it will be available on HBO Max and eventually shown on CNN. As of today, the trailer isn’t available yet. Hypebeast.com reports that the film will include unaired footage from Parts Unknown.
I wonder it that could be bits of the never-finished Florence episode Tony made with his soon-to-be-cheating girlfriend the week before he took his final, fatal trip to France with Eric Ripert.
World Travel: An Irreverant Guide Hits Bestseller Lists…
Work has kept me from diving into this book, but it came out of the gate strong.
At Amazon, it ranked No. 3 for all nonfiction its first week and seems to be holding steady.
And in Canada it debuted at No. 1 in International Bestsellers among Canadian independent booksellers, according to the Vancouver Sun.
Author Laurie Woolever continues her media blitz with a dedication that would make Tony proud. She did a Texas Public Radio podcast that went online April 23.
On April 26 she talked to Anthony Mason on CBS This Morning. Chef Daniel Boulud also appears in the interview and remembers his jitters filming Parts Unknown in his French hometown with Tony.
Finally, My Post-Mortem on the Reelz Autopsy Episode…
I’ll just hit what got my attention. If you’re unfamiliar with the details of Tony’s passing, dip into the Cats Working archives for June 2018 and find my series of posts as the story unfolded.
Dr. Michael Hunter didn’t seem to have any more information than we all had. The show did include one lovely photo of Nancy as a teenager I’d never seen. (I didn’t capture it because I’m respecting Nancy’s privacy as atonement for outing her identity on A Cook’s Tour years ago.)
However, the show failed to mention Tony’s 20-year marriage to Nancy and gave the impression he was single until Ottavia. It also implied that Parts Unknown was his only TV show.
The biggest “get” was Tony’s friend Michael Ruhlman on camera, but he didn’t say anything remotely revealing. He did confirm that Tony seemed tired and unhappy his last few years (i.e., girlfriend years), and seemed to become more insecure as his fame grew.
Dr. Hunter called this “Imposter Syndrome.”
Hunter discussed and dismissed Bourdain’s well-known habits as suspects, drugs and drinking, except as substances that would make someone more prone to depression.
He homed in on jet lag, and speculated that Tony was using Ambien, another depression trigger, but also discounted that as a contributor. (An appropriate dose of prescription medication was found in Tony’s bloodwork, but never named.)
Where Hunter really screwed up was saying several times that autopsy results were “never revealed.” No autopsy was ever done.
The show skirted right up to “rumors of an affair” involving the girlfriend days before Tony’s death, but only as another reason he’d be depressed, not a contributing factor.
The one bit of homework that impressed me was that Hunter claimed to find 19 instances between 2005-2017 where Tony had joked about hanging generally, or hanging himself in the shower.
I suspect the recreation of Eric Ripert charging into Tony’s room to find him in the bathroom was inaccurate. I believe a hotel worker entered first, and I’ve never seen any mention of exactly where Tony did it.
Hunter finally attributed Tony’s death to emotional pressure from the girlfriend situation, traveling and being away from his family, and long-standing suicidal ideation linked to depression. Hunter concluded that Tony “thought his depression was unworthy of treatment or insurmountable.”
Bottom line: Autopsy, The Last Hours of… filled in no blanks for me.
Since a recent commenter has handed my ass to me for being an idiot to receive the foul, disreputable Johnson & Johnson vaccine, let me preface this post by saying I realize my colonoscopy angst is pure First World kvetching and I do feel guilty about it, considering the world’s hunger epidemic.
I’ve got to type fast, because in 30 minutes I must pop my first two Dulcolax tablets to enter the final stage of prep.
I’ve had three colonoscopies before, but this time my doctor’s practice surprised me by throwing in this five-day “no-fiber pre-colonoscopy diet.” So, as of last Thursday, my life, which has already been a mind-numbing hamster wheel of Groundhog Days thanks to a year of pandemic lockdown, took a turn for the worse.
First, let me show you my produce bin…
NOTHING I would normally put in there, like tomatoes, lettuce, spinach, is on this diet. I was allowed to eat vegetables if they were cooked to vomitous mush, but I took a pass on that.
These are only the highlights because the monotony of my meals would put you to sleep. This dinner was flounder and mashed potatoes…
I always leave the skin on potatoes because I loathe peeling them, so I made enough for leftovers. But I haven’t touched them because I lost interest. And I REALLY love potatoes.
Another dinner was pasta with little olive oil and butter, topped by feta cheese…
I’m so used to chewy whole-grain pasta now, this white pasta had the texture of slimy erasers.
Last night I had shrimp and rice…
For breakfast one day, I had scrambled eggs, sourdough toast and canteloupe…
This next was my most colorful meal. Croissant, hard-boiled egg, and peaches…
Most days I skipped lunch, but did make this grilled gouda and cheddar cheese on sourdough with Lays White Cheddar Poppables on Saturday…
I only ate half of it because I lost interest. And I REALLY love cheese.
For desserts and snacks, I had pound cake and banana…
Baked Lays potato chips…
White cheddar cheese crackers…
And Danish butter cookies…
Have you noticed that the entire color spectrum of this food is white to pale orange? No fiber = no color. No spice. Minimal flavor.
Last night I whipped up a double batch of lemon Jell-O, the only “solid” I’m allowed today. I’ll probably end up feeding that to the garbage disposal because I hate Jell-O.
Well, I just popped my Dulcolax. In an hour when I start choking down Lemon-Lime Gatorade laced with Miralax, it’s going to get really ugly around here.
What keeps me going is the thought that this will finally be over in 24 hours and I can start weaning myself back onto real food with color. Like strawberries and blueberries and red potatoes and tomatoes and anything green.
PS: The hospital did call me about the COVID-19 test, which I did in a drive-by on Friday. I haven’t heard anything, so I’m assuming no news is good news and the J&J vaccine has been doing its job, evil creators notwithstanding.
I’ve got four new items if you’re a Cats Working reader who’s still interested in Anthony Bourdain’s evolving legacy.
Autopsy Episode on Reelz…
The episode of Autopsy: The Last Hours of… filmed in November 2020 premiers Sunday, April 25, at 8 p.m. ET on the Reelz channel. Here’s their blurb (redacted for length because CW readers know the backstory)…
On June 8th 2018, the world was stunned by the news that award-winning writer and TV presenter, Anthony Bourdain had taken his own life. He was the punk rock chef who found fame as the hip new face of food and travel television… But suddenly, at the age of 61, he hung himself in his hotel room, while filming in France. So what happened? World renowned forensic pathologist, Dr. Michael Hunter needs to analyse every detail in the limited available information to piece together what exactly caused the well-loved TV host to take his own life.
I’ve been watching some of Autopsy for months, waiting for this one to emerge, so I’ll dare to make a few predictions based on what I’ve learned about this show.
Dr. Michael Hunter is going to delve into Bourdain’s drug use, smoking, drinking, diet, and possibly chronic jet lag/sleep deprivation as potentially the REAL reasons behind the suicide, but in the end he’ll go along with what the French coroner concluded on the death certificate without performing an autopsy.
Hunter will never come close to citing the most likely actual cause.
The mention of “limited available information” indicates that neither Tony’s family nor friends cooperated. They know what went down, and they’re not saying. To this day, we don’t even know the final resting place of his ashes.
The show cast an actress to play Bourdain’s last girlfriend, but I would be surprised if they reveal anything we don’t already know about “the last hours of” that situation.
I’ll be watching just to see what they do with what little they have to go on, with fingers crossed that it’s not anything upsetting to Tony’s daughter.
World Travel: In Irreverent Guide…
On Tuesday, April 20, World Travel: An Irreverent Guide by Anthony Bourdain was published by his imprint, Ecco, but his longtime co-author, Laurie Woolever, really made it happen.
I’ve got my hefty copy. As an owner of every book Bourdain wrote, I can say with “no reservations” that World Travel is — even with line drawings, not the full-page, full-color photos of previous books — THE MOST sumptuous, elegantly produced volume ever to bear his name.
Woolever, after just one hour-long brainstorming session with Tony in March 2017 on what places and points he wanted to include, worked from those notes to craft chapters from literally hundreds of hours of episode transcripts from No Reservations, The Layover, and Parts Unknown, his interviews, articles, notes, blog posts and books. The sheer breadth of her research makes my head explode.
It’s organized alphabetically by country (43 of them), and the quoted Bourdain sprinkled liberally throughout is in bold blue, which makes his voice literally jump off the page.
I’ve just begun it, but I already feel that it’s going to be like having Tony back for a while.
To promote the book, Woolever has done phone interviews with everybody. I’ll share some links, but warn you that they’re similar. She probably knows how Bourdain felt when he got asked for the 100th time how he liked eating a cobra’s heart.
Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain will debut at the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival in New York City from June 9–20. It was directed by Morgan Neville, who did that Mr. Rogers documentary, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, and produced also by Focus Features. At some point it will be available on HBO Max and shown on CNN, I presume. Here’s the blurb…
The nonfiction chronicle of Bourdain’s life will brim “with the same energy, curiosity, and deep humanity that made Anthony Bourdain the superstar whose life touched so many” in the years leading up to his 2018 death.
This film DID have the cooperation of Bourdain’s family and friends, but I expect the focus will be on his amazing life and leave the many still-lingering questions about his end unanswered.
I found this video interview with Morgan Neville from May 27, 2020, episode #35. He must have been working on Roadrunner then, but they don’t discuss it until 29:30. Neville says basically nothing, and the interviewer does no follow-up, but you’re welcome to check it out.
Last, But Most Exciting, One More Woolever Book…
Laurie Woolever is also compiling a Bourdain biography from interviews called Bourdain: The Oral Biography to be published on October 12, 2021, by Ecco. She mentioned it during her current media blitz, but provided the most detail to Barron’s…
I did about 100 interviews with people from all different aspects of his life, from family members to colleagues back in the old kitchen days of the ’80s and ’90s, high school friends, his first wife, plenty of television colleagues, publishing colleagues, friends he made along the way, just a real array of people who knew him really from birth until the end of his life. He was someone who shared a lot about himself, and his whole story is out there of course in Kitchen Confidential, but what I found in working on the book is that there was a lot that I didn’t know. Every single person I spoke with I learned something surprising. And I was pretty steeped in all things Tony for a long time, so my hope with that one is that people will learn more about what motivated him.
PS: In researching this post, I came across other Bourdain “biographies” on Amazon that I wasn’t aware of by people I’ve never heard of. I’ll do some digging on those and report back.
BONUS: Bourdain has this new tribute mural at The Grub Shop on Long Island.
After skipping it last year, receiving the doctor’s reminder recently guilted me into scheduling a colonoscopy for April 27.
Ever since, when I wake up mornings and colonoscopy pops into my head, my stomach lurches and I dash to the toilet to dry-heave until I calm down.
This is my fourth time at this rodeo. I go every five years because I have a polyp-y family. The doctor even found two on me last time. So, I’m familiar with the nasty, nasty prep.
But this time they blindsided me with some new wrinkles:
7 days of no vitamins (buh-bye, calcium)
5 days fiber-free, with minimal basic nutrition
Asking around, nobody I know has ever had to do this diet, nor even heard of doing it.
They mailed me these half-ass dietary instructions that raised many more questions than they answered. Checking their website for “more information,” all they had was THIS SAME F**KING PAGE. They must think it’s a masterpiece.
So, I kept looking. Yup, this is definitely a thing.
Kaiser Permanente recommends three days, and their comprehensive list calmed me down considerably. OK are butter, cooking oil, cheese, white grape juice (instead of YUCK apple) turkey, cantaloupe, peeled potatoes and even creamy peanut butter.
For the record, I try to be good about eating fiber, fruit and veggies, so I’m woefully ill-stocked for this. I’ll go shopping and start this new regimen on Thursday because I count Butt-Probe Eve with no solid food as a fiber-free day.
For nasty prep, it’s two seemingly gratuitous Dulcolax tablets followed by 14 doses of Miralax, the last supposedly at about 11 p.m.
I’m backing up that timetable two hours because I’d like to sleep before the big day.
For the first time, I’m having the procedure at a hospital instead of the doctor’s office. They said it’s because I’ve hit 65.
Sounds like they want us Medicare folks — after the malnutrition and probable constipation, then starvation, epic diarrhea and sleep deprivation — in a facility with convenient morgue access.
And did I mention I’m supposed to get a COVID-19 test? I was told nothing about where or when, and I’m not asking. I’ve been vaccinated, and I’m more worried about the hospital crawling with COVID than I am.
So, it’s finally the week this nightmare begins to end. Wish me luck. (If you’ve done all this and have any reassurances for me, comments are open.)
Lately, Max has been joining the rest of us downstairs in the evening. After Adele died, he assumed her duty of signaling when it was time for after-dinner treats and fish flakes by scratching on the bookcase where I keep them.
Max tends to rotate where he settles down for TV after that. Until a few weeks ago, he stayed in his bed near the sliding door. But now he’s back on the purple blanket on the couch.
This is where it gets weird. Roc has been joining Max in the friendliest manner he can muster. (This doesn’t leave much room for me to stretch out, BTW.) And Max is warily OK with it.
I took these photos on three different nights…
This isn’t the first time we’ve had detente after five years. Years ago, when Cole finally discovered my bed and started sleeping there, Adele, who had been a firm fixture, immediately vacated. She moved to a bed I put on my dresser so she could give Cole the stink-eye all night.
Five years later, she did a 180 and became perfectly cordial to Cole. Unfortunately, by then Cole’s kidneys were beginning to fail and he only got to enjoy a year of Adele’s friendship before he left us…
And now after five years, Roc suddenly seems to be trying to buddy up to Max.
I know you’re probably wondering if/how Tony figures into all of this. He’s making like Switzerland and staying neutral. While Roc has fur-on-fur contact with Max, Tony may be in his little bed on the hearth…
After I cleared my winter knitting supplies off it, Tony discovered the big chair (I crocheted myself a plush throw like the couch cat blankie — I DO NOT recommend that chenille yarn. It’s a bitch to work with.)…
You may remember, directly behind the big chair is the new gray perch I had to assemble from scratch. It’s become Tony’s spot. He uses every inch except that hammock at the bottom, and he’ll lounge on it for hours, day or night. I’ve even seen him using the sisal scratching posts after he saw Roc do it.
NEW: Scroll down to see the video I promised on Tony on ‘nip.
On Friday, April 9 (same day England’s Prince Philip died at 99), Max turned 10, so it seemed only fair to ask how he’d like to celebrate his milestone birthday. Our conversation went something like this (if you speak cat)…
Me: Max, is there anything special I can do for your birthday this year? You’re not into fancy food. Lately, you’ve even been meh about your fish flake treats. I need some ideas.
Max: I want a new collar.
Me: Seriously? Isn’t that like asking for underwear?
Max: You know I’m hard on collars, but I wear a tux every day and I hate it when my neck looks tatty.
Me: Good point. My bad.
Max: And I don’t want a collar just for me. I want EVERYBODY to get new collars.
Me: So you’ve noticed Roc’s red collar is a bit scraggly? He likes having that “been there, done that” look. But you know how Tony is about wearing collars.
Max: Tony’s almost two years old now. It’s time he pulled up his big-boy fur and stopped looking like a stray. I think he’s ready.
So, I followed Max’s orders and found three colorful summer collars at Chewy.com. Stop here for a second and decide for yourself who you think got which one…
When they arrived, the first order of business was to remove the bells, which nobody likes (including me). I must say, these collars are silky soft and the lightest ever, so I had high hopes they’d be a big hit.
Max got to pick the one he wanted. Being a lifelong pacifist, he chose the mellowest one…
Roc got the geometric pattern and seemed quite pleased with how it looked…
Tony, our wild child, got the Jackson Pollock. He seemed to relish his newly mature appearance…
He was happily lounging on his blue perch in it when I took this picture. Little did I know he was hatching a plan…
Just a few minutes later, he scampered through my office like Lord Godiva without a horse. I found the collar on the floor beside the perch. He’d managed to pop himself out of it…
I tried a few more times to get Tony to wear his collar, but no dice. No matter how snugly it fit, he’d work his jaw under it and pop it off. So, I’ll put it away and try again later, or give it to Max eventually.
Roc followed Tony’s lead a few days later and popped his off, too, so right now they’re both running around in only the fur God gave them.
Max just shook his head at their foolishness and meowed, “My good deeds never go unpunished”…
UPDATE: The biggest hit of Max’s birthday celebration was the catnip, and I finally figured out how to bypass my balky iPhone and get online the clip I caught of Tony getting wacked out until he realized I was filming him…
Here’s Tony after another few snorts. That’s the empty bowl of ‘nip he snorted beside him…
We’ve got a post about Max’s birthday surprise all ready to go, but I’ve been trying to send the freaking photos and a video from my iPhone to several of my email accounts all day and none of them are going through for some reason. Without the photos, the post loses its punch, so please stay tuned. Working on it…
You’ll find no dog-lovers here at Cats Working, but since we all share Major Biden’s backstory as shelter animals who made good, we’re unanimous in our opinion that he’s getting a raw deal over two alleged “biting” incidents.
We were shocked after the second one when that two-faced, closeted Trump-lover Joe Scarborough on MSNBC called Major “Cujo” and a “werewolf,” and had the NERVE to suggest that Major be put to sleep and “meet Dog Jesus”!
(At least Mika and Willie Geist took Major’s side.)
Let the record state that neither time did Major break skin or draw blood. Joe Biden himself confirmed that when Major first “nipped” a Secret Service agent. The second time, Major’s nippee was a National Park Service employee who got medically checked out at the White House and immediately returned to work “without injury.”
So, Mr. Scarborough, if you step on toes twice in a crowded elevator but don’t break any, should we take you out back and shoot you so you can meet “Douchebag Jesus”?
Let’s step back and consider this rationally. Major, who’s 3 years old now, went from anonymous shelter mutt to living with a former vice president — who then became president and promoted Major to Second Dog (his bro Champ, who’s 12, is First Dog) in the White House.
That’s a LOT of change for a doggy brain to process…
After the first nip, Major was sent home to Delaware for training, but he was only back at the White House for about a week when he got nippy again.
Major may be trying to tell Joe Biden something about the White House; he may smell lingering Trump cooties on people. German Shepherds tend to be very protective, and Major looks like he knows his job is keeping Biden safe…
Perhaps the best way to resolve this is to line up all the White House staff and the Secret Service like luggage at the airport and let Major do an inspection. Anyone he doesn’t pee on or nip gets Top Canine Clearance. The ones not so lucky need to be put on leave for more thorough background checks because something’s clearly not right with them. Dogs (and cats) know these things.
Or maybe Major senses Trump’s demented hatred of dogs and the White House needs an exorcism.
PS: Tomorrow is my 10th birthday and I’m celebrating with presents for EVERYONE! Roc and Tony are in for surprises. Stay tuned…
BONUS: Speaking of douchebags, Randy Rainbow has struck again with a classic parody from Oklahoma…
I’m being a blog hog for another day because over the weekend I brainstormed with Max and Tony and we came up with a cat version of Pooch Perfect in case NBC or CBS is interested in giving ABC some competition that’s real entertainment.
Our show’s title is CattyGories. Let that sink in a minute, because it sums up the concept perfectly.
The human contestants would be people who claim they’re pet psychics or cat whisperers. You know, people who live under the delusion that they can get cats to do stuff.
The kitty contestants may be temporarily captured ferals, shelter cats or even cats who have good homes. Since this show is so NOT like Pooch Perfect, cat owners might WANT their cats on it to get their 15 minutes of national TV fame.
Why? Because it has an intriguing twist. The usual premise of these “game” shows is for humans to exploit animals for their own amusement. With CattyGories, humans must depend on the kindness and mercy of the cats, and their goal is to stay in the cats’ good graces to keep from bleeding out.
The competitions are tailored around things cats might — or might not — want to do normally. Without using brute force or cruelty of any kind, the humans must attempt to complete simple tasks like:
Give the cat a mani-pedi, or apply fake adhesive covers to the cat’s claws
Teach the cat to use a people toilet
Put the cat in a carrier
Train the cat to fetch
Get the cat to come when called by name
Keep the cat off a countertop where there’s a freshly roasted chicken
Walk 10 feet with the cat on a leash
Get the cat to sit on their lap for 5 minutes
Each week, nobody gets kicked off, but one human is declared that week’s loser based on how badly they failed to get their cat to cooperate and the total dimension of spatters on bloody tissues they accumulated in the attempt.
On the final show, the judges add up the total inches of scratches and count how many puncture wounds each human sustained. The one with the lowest number of both “wins.”
The performance of the cats is never judged in any way. On the final show, EVERY cat is declared a winner. Because with cats, there’s no such thing as losing.
And maybe dogs will watch CattyGories and learn something. Such as, if they’re ever conscripted to be on a TV show like Pooch Perfect, they don’t go down without a fight bite. At the very least, every human on the set should get one leg humped and the other one peed on.