Cat Ass Trophy

Or, Caturday, Film Festival Edition

Ok, I like cats well enough. I even have a cat. Sure, I occasionally look at pictures of cats online, with or without witty catpions (intentional misspelling). I’ve been sucked in by video of Maru the Box Cat at least once. I have posted about Stationmaster Tama and  library cats. IBKC and Cute Overload are linked in the sidebar. But you know, I think this cat thing has officially gone off the rails. 

Thursday night in Minneapolis, ten thousand people turned out for a festival of short films starring cats:

The crowd — easily double what organizers expected — packed the lawn outside the museum, spilling onto the sidewalks across the street. There were local cat lovers and out-of-state fans of Fluffy; many wore kitty-theme T-shirts or simply ears and whiskers. Some took real cats on leashes. A few dogs came, for irony.

They all settled in for a screening of cats behaving badly, or cutely, or mysteriously, sometimes all at once. That much of the audience had already seen the clips on YouTube did not seem to diminish the enthusiasm. Quite the contrary.

Keyboard Cat and Nyan Cat allegedly wanted to be paid to attend. Inasmuch as Nyan Cat is animated, I’d like to know how that would even work. I won’t link to those furry freeloaders now just on principal.

Did they actually use film, or did they just cue up 60 tabs in YouTube?

In Closing: more stuff to do in Vegas; we don’t need no steenking warrant; just say no to huge birthday bashes for little kids; “The recovery continues to be skewed toward low-wage jobs, reinforcing the rise in inequality and America’s deficit of good jobs”; of course job growth is variable by region (which is why we need streamlined short sales nowDouble Dose of Ezra; is that where I’ve heard it before?; Etch-a-sketch; mathematically impossible; yes the Republicans have a place for single women, I guess; low carb diets do work; the study never said skinny monkeys, just underfed monkeys; and great timing.

Turkey Sandwich Wars

As nearly as I can tell, it started with a regional chain called Capriotti’s and a sandwich known as The Bobbie. It’s basically “Thanksgiving Dinner on a sub bun”: Turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing, and mayo. Delicious if a bit carb-heavy.

Then a local sandwich shop called Eddie D’s threw down with their own version. As Eddie himself put it, “I call it the Robert, because it’s the Bobbie’s daddy.” It’s served hot with turkey, melted cheese, stuffing, cranberry sauce and you can order it with hot gravy. Also delicious.

Expect some variation to come to fine dining near you and then eventually filter down to the casual dining set. The other day I was exposed to Marche Bacchus’s take on the Thanksgiving sandwich. Their version features housemade cole slaw, swiss cheese, caramelized onions, and cranberry coulis. A huge improvement over the turkey panini they used to serve.

I think this trend could be the next Slider of the culinary world.

In Closing: Iceland wants banksters in jail; and that’s why they fear Occupy; why is this not an election talking point?; food safety rules delayed; she gets it (BTW, love the content hate the font); walking changes linked to cognitive decline; loose lips sink viruses; upscale pawn shops (because the economy is so great); spoiled; doesn’t everyone need an espresso maker in their car??; seriously; the mayor is a cat; and why we wear pants.

Oh, Oh, It’s Magic

On my most recent trip, I had a unique book to read while lounging by a beach of white sand and impossibly blue water. That book was The Magic Room by Jeffrey Zaslow. No, not a fantasy novel for young adults, but a book about women — oddly bereft of feminism. It’s a book about brides and a very special bridal shop in a small Michigan town. You’ll want to keep some tissues close by while you read it. You can get a little taste of it right here.

How did he end up in a bridal shop? When Mr. Zaslow set out to write “a nonfiction book about the love we all wish for our daughters,” he went looking for “a place with great emotion.” His wife suggested a bridal shop. And it’s not just any bridal shop, not one of those big chains or the boutique tucked in an obscure corner of a big department store. Becker’s Bridal has a long history: 4 generations of women in one remarkable family have worked here, in an old “small town” bank building, creating “magic.”

In addition to reading about the strong women of the Becker family and their business, we also follow a number of brides on their journey through the process. This does cause a bit of a muddle towards the last third of the book as the reader jumps from bride to bride, finishing out what happened between their trip to Becker’s and the wedding itself: is Courtney the one who decided not to kiss anyone until she got married? The kindergarten teacher who was in a car wreck? The widow who is getting remarried even though her kids are unhappy with the arrangement? The independent woman who is finally getting married for the first time in her 40s? Or is she the one with rheumatic heart disease? With many brides comes some confusion for anyone without a photographic memory.

As I consider the idea of my second wedding, I found the idea of a “bridal industry” somewhat creepy. No mistake, I understand and respect that there are people who make a living making sure I have a dress that makes me “princess for a day,” seeing to invitations, attiring my entire wedding party, putting together memorable services and receptions. I can’t imagine spending “between $19,907 and $33,178” as most American couples do. Even the cheapest sale dresses at Becker’s are more than I can justify spending on a gown I will — hopefully — only wear once.

Like the “funeral industry,” it doesn’t quite sound right to have an “industry” grow up around profoundly personal moments in somebody’s life. What’s next? Calling religious institutions part of the “faith industry”?

This being said, Mr. Zaslow comes up with some very interesting observations, presented in a rather dry, tangential, New York Times sort of way: brides used to be “smaller,” oh no not because of obesity, but because they “didn’t work out” and “didn’t lift weights” and “didn’t eat the way Americans eat today”; roughly 15% of mothers of the bride want dresses that are “too revealing and sexy,” and 35% have to be reminded that they aren’t the grandmother of the bride; sometimes the boss has to “be a bitch”; and oddly enough, “advances in box-making helped fuel the computer revolution.”

In this world of Brides Behaving Badly, it’s refreshing to see that getting married doesn’t have to be a three ring circus. On the other hand, there’s something odd about a man writing a tear-jerker book about the bridal industry, and saying it’s about “the love we all wish for our daughters.”

Want to discuss this book more? Go check out the conversation already flowing over at the Blogher Book Club.

Disclosure statement: I read this book for the Blogher Book Club. In return for my participation I was given a copy of the book (e-book in this case) and I will receive $20. Nevertheless, the opinions expressed here are my own.

Ok then, who wants a heaping helping of In Closing?: made up words; moron; Anonymous does good; if school was a job, students would get more break time by law; it’s never too early to eat right and move your body; cult; and security theatre.

The Road to Ruin is in Disrepair

It turns out that there is one thing — one pretty big thing! — that both business leaders and union leaders agree upon: “America has an urgent need for more spending on critical infrastructure like roads and bridges.”

They’ve got a good point. Roads and bridges have many benefits. They help people get to work. They help companies get products to consumers. A new road can mean new business opportunities along the path it runs. And finally, building and maintaining roads and bridges means jobs: many thousands of jobs for workers, who will in turn do crazy things like pay taxes and buy things.

So why exactly is this the least bit controversial?

Because the Republicans are choosing to channel their dear departed member Herbert Hoover (rather than Ronald Reagan, who at least wanted to put people to work building missile-destroying systems! Pew! Pew!). Republicans are demanding huge cuts in the next Transportation Bill, including cutting highway maintenance spending by a third. This bill must be passed by the end of September.

Right, because there’s no urgently needed road repairs out there. No bridges in danger of collapse. And no business leaders agreeing with union leaders that we need more money — not less — spent on our roads.

The hilarious part is that I fully expect these same people to turn around and run on a platform of “Government has failed you! Just look at these roads!”

In Closing: It’s good to be CEO; follow-up on Steven Seagal and the tank; dumbing down; Neanderthal; did you know that “Red States” actually bleed tax money away from “Blue States”? (so much for “the hard working red states can’t support the blue welfare states any more!”; protein is good for dieters; and 3 charts.

Be Afraid of Everything

Ok, seriously. Our obsession with terrorism has veered off into paranoia.

Two unidentified “U.S. security officials” says we need to be afraid of terrorists with implanted explosives, and the TSA director agrees that this is a possible concern — adding that there’s not a damn thing even the nudie scanners and patdowns that violate some states’ sexual assault laws can do about it.

Never mind the fact that such a bomb is much more likely to shower bystanders with gore than actually kill them. Don’t let reality stand in the way of losing some more civil liberties; after all it’s for our safety!

Right?

In Closing: more than you really wanted to know about the fake budget crisis, the economy, Republicans, and how politicians plan to screw you out of Social Security; Heinlein; stupid products for children; and camels at the oasis.

Public Service Announcement

If you’ve noticed that a bunch of your favorite blogs that usually update every day don’t have new posts, there’s a reason. I have it on good authority that Blogger is down. This good authority goes on to wonder how “fun” it would be to have a cloud computing outage when trying to get work done.

In Closing: Nat Geo decides they don’t want any trouble with the Yakuza; dead terrorist; happy; reality; new thing to do in Vegas (no gambling or drinking required); homeless in Vegas; scrutiny; statesrights; McCain regains sanity; awwww; reading; kids are capable when we let them be; on immigration; Social Security; and does Michelle Bachmann know more than a high schooler?

Well Isn’t That Interesting

Gee, isn’t it peculiar that right after a very close election in Wisconsin, a voting official with a history of not exactly doing things the proper way happens to find just enough votes for one particular candidate to avoid a required recount, against pretty much every rule of computer programming and common sense?

Good thing there’s paper ballots. Somebody better pick those up before the mysterious fire. You never know when a mysterious fire can happen. You might be experiencing one right now!

In closing: the contents of Notorious B.I.G.’s pockets when he died; have a Koch and a smile; escaped leopard menaces children; blast from the past; Fox News through history; stop coddling the kids, they know better; yeah, because clearly Eric Holder has nothing important to do; it’s never been about deficit reduction (go ahead! shut the government down! but stop paying the worthless congresscreeps who got us here!); on the middle class; How to tell if your neighbor is cooking up explosives; what’s that doing in this century?; Detroit; the truth about how California reduced malpractice costs; make sure you are both on the mortgage; I doubt this seriously (did anybody bother to compare cost-with-coupon to cost of store brand?); stop tweeting ads; earthquake art; whistleblowers; and a cat with a gun.

Thoughts for Labor Day

I think it’s appropriate to focus on jobs for Labor Day.

The good news is that employers did add new jobs last month. Unfortunately they didn’t add nearly enough to make a dent in unemployment. Even as private employers are adding positions, cash-strapped state and local governments have had no choice but to cut them. Drowning government in the bathtub sounds great until you realize there’s lots of things government does to make the private sector possible.

The flipside of employment is, of course, unemployment. Real unemployment is much higher than the “headline” number. That’s because the number you hear on the news doesn’t include people who have given up on jobs, people who went back to school because there’s no jobs/to get training/hoping the market will be better when they graduate, part time workers who would rather work full time, etc.. Of course, it’s also alarming how long many of the unemployed have been unemployed.

It doesn’t help matters that the current administration thinks they can create jobs by encouraging companies to borrow money. Banks are still being stingy and real property is no longer something with which truly small businesses can secure loans. Besides, what bank in their right mind is going to lend money to some unemployed guy who figures he can start his own business?

We’re one of the only modern countries with no maternity leave, no mandated sick leave, and no guarantee of health care (merely an upcoming mandate that we pay the profitable insurance companies that created our unaffordable system). We also trail every modern nation when it comes to vacation time. Heck, some people have to fight for their lunch break!

Let’s hear it for Labor this Labor Day.

Acute Angle: Looks like the Review Journal is going to actually sue Sharron Angle for copyright infringement!

In closing: any prison term can turn into a death sentence; why people believe lies; fired for being paid so little she qualifies for food stamps; advice for college freshmen; Enron exec to stay in prison during appeal (good!); this is not good; Thank you, Digby, for saying what I’ve said for years, If Social Security is running out of money, how is less money supposed to fix it??; parents’ worries vs children’s actual risks; Abigail Disney on the Estate Tax; VW wants to be #1; on debt; I wouldn’t treat a dog this way; “Moby Dick with Dragons“; on racism, bad neighborhoods, and the news; and Mac Vs. PC.

The Internet Ate My Homework

In the last 24 hours I have switched cell phones and had my RSS reader suddenly stop working. As a result, I’ve spent much of the last day digging out and trying to organize things — and that’s no easy task. So as much as I would like to write something deeper, I’ll be talking briefly about the group of cowards and self-centered blow-hards in Washington DC who are our elected Representatives and Senators.

Thanks to our elected officials preferring the company of insurance company lobbyists to that of citizens that can actually vote for them, we still have a health care system that costs too much and does too little. At least we will soon have certain “rights” when dealing with these companies, but some warn that these “rights” will translate into even higher costs. The House of so-called Representatives did get up off their collective asses to fix a looming slashing of what doctors would be paid under Medicare. Why is this important? First, your doctor’s costs of doing business have not gone down. Second, most major insurers base what they will pay on what Medicare pays. So this would within a year put some doctors out of business.

The House also managed to pass a campaign finance reform bill that would force candidates and political parties to disclose the identities of most big donors. Except of course for the biggest and most powerful donors. They are still free to own their own Congresscritters. Now the bill is ready for slaughter in the Senate.

A couple of Senators are actually trying to do something for children — odd in an election year since they can’t even vote. It seems that an unintended result of some immigration raids is that there are kids whose parents have been taken away. Those kids are often American citizens thanks to the clarity of the 14th Amendment. The bill in question would allow the parents to arrange care for these little Americans, make sure that they have resources and can report abuse, and prevents authorities from involving the kids in interrogations. Think what you want about the parents, but the kids did nothing wrong and deserve the protections of law. The end.

But what could our elected officials not be bothered to do? They couldn’t be bothered to protect servicemen from predatory car salesmen, not even for Mrs. Petraeus. They couldn’t be bothered to extend unemployment benefits for a million people, despite the fact that there are at least 5 unemployed Americans for every available job opening. And no, Sharron, people aren’t living a life of luxury in Las Vegas on unemployment benefits.

So Remember Come November. Vote for those few who have been taking care of your business in Washington, and against those who have been trying to obstruct your business. In the meantime, click here to figure out how to contact your Senators, and here to find your Representative. You’ll need to know your Zip+4, so dig out some mail first.

In closing: fat people don’t walk (an essay on urban design); a “silly” lady who desperately needed the 911 operator to listen (need help? these people can help); they hate us for our electricity; what would Jesus do?; it’s not your typical state dinner — don’t tell Michelle they split an order of fries; and your dose of Japanfilter, the Pepsi Strong Shot.