Sunday, January 31, 2010

Doughy Lumps, Stomach Pumps, Enemas, Too…

Or, Brian Wilson: Friend of Vegetables (and Goats)

Today’s post was inspired by two things—Mr. Pleasant’s Top 100 7-inch Singles (major Beach Boys representation here!) and the inadvertent inclusion of the Pet Sounds mailing list on a recommended list of Internet resources for animal welfare professionals (don’t ask!). Oh, well, three things—all those long-suffering folks who actually know the next line in the song referenced above…

Here goes...

If life were a big county fair and we were all various kinds of produce, this man, or at least the creative side of his brain, would be one of those beautiful gargantuan mutant tomatoes that wins the blue ribbon, but is just so big and juicy that even the farmer doesn’t know what to do with it. Was it something in the water? Or just a highly developed root system?

Eventually the tomato rolls off the vegetable cart, and it’s not uncommon to find it introducing the onion to the peach, or the beet to the watermelon, just to see what sweetness might result. And did I mention this tomato can sing?

No matter what your favorite veg-e-table, everyone can benefit from a little extra Brian Wilson in his or her life. It just so happens that throughout his career with the Beach Boys, he never forgot to tip his hat to his favorite flora and fauna:

* “Vegetables,” written by BW and Van Dyke Parks and first found commercially on the Beach Boys’ 1967 Smiley Smile LP. This song romp-chomps along, ending with a plea for the pea: “I know that you’ll feel better when you send us in your letter and tell us the name of your favorite vegetable.”

* “H.E.L.P. is on the Way,” from disc 3 of Good Vibrations: Thirty Years of the Beach Boys. If you’re a vegetarian/vegan who has never guffawed with delight, you will now. Written as a kind of promo for a health food restaurant, the song features Brian cautioning listeners about the pitfalls of being a meat eater: “Doughy lumps, stomach pumps, enemas, too/That’s what you’ll get when you eat that way!” In a moment of cruciferous triumph, he glows, “Hamburgers and hotdogs, throw ‘em all out!/You’ll feel so good you’ll stand up and shout!”

* On the Beach Boys’ Surf’s Up album is a wacky song written by BW & Jack Reilly called “A Day in the Life of a Tree.” If you listen to it enough, it just might grow on you (haw haw!). It’s about air pollution and is really, really sad: “But now my branches suffer/And my leaves don’t offer/Poetry to men of song/Trees like me weren’t meant to live/if all this world can give is pollution and slow death.

P.S. Don’t wanna end on such sad note, but…let me share my favorite BW-ism. When asked to describe himself by a reporter, Brian said he was…PSYCHEDELICATE.

P.S.S. Crap, I have to make an animal-music connection by the end of this post...Those are Brian's dogs, Banana and Louie, who you hear barking at the end of “Caroline, No" from the Pet Sounds album, and a Sparklett’s water jug you hear at the beginning of the song. If that ever comes up in a trivia contest, you have to split your winnings with me.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Time to Make the Donuts

Just got an email announcing that February 8 is the start of this year’s Create Dunkin’s Next Donut Contest , and I felt that old bitterness rise up. I thought my 2009 donut designs were so stellar that I’d be a guaranteed finalist. But no! The Powder Puff and Bing-a-Ling went unrecognized.

Entries were supposedly judged on 3 factors: description, name and actual artistry/yumminess of the donut itself. How elegant is the Powder Puff, a simple white-on-white confection filled with French vanilla crème, topped with white icing and white chocolate shavings, named in honor of Miss Puffelina?

For the quasi-health conscious, I served up the Bing-a-Ling (shown above), a blueberry cake donut with acai blueberry filling, peanut butter frosting and both cinnamon and chocolate shavings. From my description: “This donut was inspired by my cat Bing, whom I adopted from the ASPCA. He’s Siamese, so I selected blueberry cake and filling in honor of his baby blues….He just turned 13—could this be his lucky year?”

Apparently not. Perhaps the shape was off-putting, though the folks at Dunkin’ say the “stick” donut is perfect for on-the-go eating. Or perhaps not even Dunkin’ Donuts coffee (which I love, btw) is strong enough to wash that pb frosting off the roof of one’s mouth?

Anyway, last year’s finalists were a dizzying, drippy dozen “bellyaches waiting to happen,” as my good friend and colleague Kathy described them. Here’s the winner, in case you don’t believe me.

But just you wait for this year, DD! This time I’ve got Derrick for inspiration. Doncha think your clientele would gobble up the Pretty in Pink Eye, a blue-frosted donut rimmed in strawberry jelly? (Just kidding! But, *big sigh*, my poor baby’s conjunctivitis has cleared up, thank gawd and Dr. Dugan at the ASPCA’s Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital.)

Actually, this year I may look not to big cats but big bats for inspiration. I’ll submit a whole “team” of donut designs—a collector’s edition dozen based on New York Yankees players past and present. How ‘bout :
* the Jeet (coffee and cream flavored?)
* the Mo (with extra sprinkles, as in, “I want some ‘mo!”)
* the Jelly Martin (blueberry jelly filling, of course)
* Bern, Baby, Bern (it’s got cinnamon red-hot candies on top)
* the A-Rod (this one is a “stick” donut. Duh!)
* the Yogi (this one’s a twisted cruller-type pretzel-shaped donut)
and the best of all…
* the Thurman Munchkin!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Work That Skirt!

For maximum effect, this post should be read while listening to the B-52’s song of the same name

In fashion, like most things in life, rules are made to broken. Like I used to say I’d never wear polyester. That was before I began collecting vintage Huk-A-Poo shirts (my favorite is an unfortunate shade of brown with a dog breed motif) and way, way before I made my best ebay score EVER—Lily Pulitzer pants in a print featuring Siamese cats drinking martinis with blue olives! They have an elastic waistband AND pleats down the front, but still remain one of my most prized possessions.

On the tail of that inspired success I bid on and won the lil’ number you see here. I thought it might be possible to mitigate the Holly Hobbie factor with black harness boots and a black turtleneck. But something’s stopped me…I’ve yet to wear it…and it’s been sitting in my closet for at least 3 years. What do y’all think? It’s ok if you don’t think I can pull it off—maybe that’s actually a compliment. Just tell me the truth.

P.S. Actually, the kitty featured in this skirt reminds me of my friend Elyse’s iconic Evil Dead meatloaf. Tell me you can’t see the similarity!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

She Knows What She's Doing, She's Super Bad Now

"But, my dear Sebastian, you can't seriously believe it all."
"Can't I?"
"I mean about Christmas and the star and the three kings and the ox and the ass."
"Oh yes, I believe that. It's a lovely idea."
"But you can't believe things because they're a lovely idea."
"But I do. That's how I believe."
--Sebastian and Charles in Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited

Seriously, was I even paying attention when I read that book? I hardly remember what it was about, but I do know that I was so sad when Sebastian and Charles weren’t friends anymore, and of course I loved the teddy bear.

Oh, and I LOVE the above quote, too. That’s exactly how I operate. Got Beauty? Got a good story? Then ya got Truth, buster, and sign me up.

Anyway, what I really want to share in this post is my vision/version of heaven. If you think it’s a beautiful idea, you can believe it, too. There’s no St. Peter to greet me at the Pearly Gates, there’s all my past cat friends—Apple! Loma P! Neetch! Pod! And starring…Miss Puffelina!—doing a line dance to the 2007 remix of the Jackson 5’s Dancing Machine.

I love the original, but when ya get to heaven it’s gotta be the version from Motown Remixed, Vol. 2. It’s all salsa-fied and down into the ground, and I can just see Puffer doing this groovy mambo-hip move to it.

They make a place in the line for me and we all just keep dancing…

Rhythmatic, acrobatic
She a dynamite attraction
At the drop of a coin she comes alive…

It’s a lovely idea, right?!

P.S. It's the anniversary of Puff's birth today! : )

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Return of the Red-Eye

It feels like New Year's is old already, but here are my best wishes for 2010, courtesy of Paloma and Bing. This is yet another gem from one of my kitty-exploiting photo shoots, at least 10 years old since Loma P. (her rap name) is no longer with us. What a great friend and teacher she was--and I've never known another cat who could simultaneously run and meow quite the way she could. It was all modulated, like I can run and me-ow-e-ow-e-ow-e-ow

And Bing, well...the red-eye effect is entirely appropriate here. Note the scale of cat to champagne...did it fool ya?

P.S. Red-eyed-meezer-on-VH1 alert! If you caught the premiere of this season's Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew, you may have noticed the Siamese cat (looked like a relatively big meezer, too) in the childhood photo of Mackenzie Phillips, who was shown (I think) standing next to her father, who she sez taught her to roll joints and shoot heroin. I know that's a sad note to end on for a New Year's post, but it goes to show that everything's connected, in all sorts of ways.

P.P.S. Inspirational thingie that made my week: The kids in the jazz-hip hop class I help out in were split into two groups, so they could watch each other perform the combination. One student (she's 9 and insanely delightful), shouted out the following unprompted advice to her fellow classmates: "Listen, everybody! Pretend that Michael Jackson is watching you. It makes you really super good!" It's not like we were dancing to MJ or anything.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

The Fab Fur, part 2

If Siamese cats sang, they’d sound a little like John Lennon. Don’t roll your eyes, you know it’s true! Take a few seconds to imagine that very distinctive Siamese meow-yowl. Now imagine a Siamese cat—let’s say Bing—singing karaoke.

“Yellow matter custard, dripping from a dead dog’s eye…”

“You can talk to me. You can talk to me. You can talk to meeee…if you’re lonely you can talk to me…”

I wish I knew more about music theory (hey, what IS music theory?), but is it even possible to compare the timbre of a cat’s vocalizations to a person’s? At least that’s comparing apples to apples, sorta. Didn’t Paul McCartney once mistake Graham Nash for a French horn on “I Can’t Let Go”? Ah, but that’s a nice compliment, too!

P.S. Disclaimer: I don’t think meezers could sing just any Lennon lead. “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite” and “Soldier of Love ," yes. But can you imagine Bing on “Julia” or “Across the Universe?” Me neither.