Since The Dawn of Paintbrush

Jeff and I first met in London in the winter of 2002.  It was a simpler time; post-9-11 paranoia was in its infancy and Britney Spears was in her prime.  The British pound was nearly two American dollars, and I had $500 a month to spend on food and booze basic necessities.

When Jeff and I were feeling exceptionally poor, we discovered the joys of Paintbrush on our computers as free entertainment.  Nearly all of my drawings from back then succumbed to the viruses brought on by illegally downloading Britney songs critically-acclaimed, thought-provoking music.

But wait!  Jeff has uncovered a treasure trove of his amazing work from this period and I am thrilled to be able to share it with you.  It all started with a visit to the Natural History Museum...

This is a primitive piece depicting us being chased by a T-Rex.  I am wearing a cute corduroy skirt and look extra sassy!

Jeff's work refined itself quickly with a visit from his friend Linda, who is featured in these two pieces of the three of us in space.

Before long, we were hanging out with the Scoobies, chasing ghosts and solving mysteries!

And riding on pigs!

We entered a psychedelic period and discovered how much more fun life would be on roller skates.

One day I walked in on Jeff alone in his room, naked as a jay bird, sitting in front of his computer, doing God knows what.  It inspired me to draw this.

Finally, Jeff's piece de resistance can be seen below: all eight members of our flat at the discotheque.  This took him 42 hours.

Jeff is our very special friend.

Here's a (real) picture of him grooming himself.  


'Tis The Season To Get A Little Lazy

We would like to take this opportunity to apologize profusely for the lack of content posted in the past week.  We spent the past day rolling our round bodies back to Philly from North Carolina, where we spent the last six days lying face-down in plate after plate of starchy, fatty, cheesy, nutty, sugary, potato perfection, washed down with multiple bottles of dry nectar.   

God.  Bless.  Uh.  Mare.  Kuh.  'Merica! 

We have much to be thankful for, especially our brother Randy for passing along this horrifying image of what a cat bath would look like if it were administered by Salvador Dali, as we try to get back to our regularly scheduled programming. 


DWTS Week 10: If You Don't Vote, Don't Complain, But Please Don't Shoot Your Television

Several of you informed us that we did not mention that Sandy H. wrote last week's DWTS recap.  Even though it was tagged under "Mom," "Sh*t My Mom Says," and "Guest Bloggers."  So, let us clarify here and now: this is Sandy H.'s last recap!

“Our most talked-about season ever!”  Tom Bergeron crowed repeatedly Monday night.  Not sure folks were talking about the dancing though.  One of our dancing couples received death threats and was forced to stop the tweeting that appeared to escalate the threats.  In Vermont a viewer, annoyed by the results and – according to his wife – off his meds, shot out his television last week.  At Cats in Baths, however, we are always on our meds, and we are always all about the dancing  - especially during finals week. 

Monday night began with our finalists Kyle, Bristol, and Jennifer doing a “redemption dance,” the single dance the judges thought each contestant should have performed better.  With Jennifer there was really only one dance that qualified – the paso doble, in which she had received her lowest score of the competition.  There was no doubt a wider selection of disappointing dances for the judges to choose from for Bristol, but the jive made the cut.  (Remember, this is the one they danced in gorilla suits, memorable for all the wrong reasons).  The judges’ choice for Kyle was the foxtrot, danced originally to a disco number and which we agree was a little weird. 

Monday night Jennifer’s beautiful redemption paso doble earned 10s from all the judges and a rare solo standing ovation from Len.  “I didn’t want this ever to end! I wish I had an 11!”  Bruno bubbled, and we agree.  We rewound just to watch it again, and it was even more fabulous the second time.  Kyle didn’t disappoint with his redemption foxtrot.  A huge improvement over the original, it was full of energy and excitement and earned him 9s all around.  Bristol’s redemption jive was better than the gorilla-suit version, but she’s still stiff.  Her partner Mark’s high, energetic steps are so precise that he makes her look even more unsure of herself.  Still, the judges found it a “vast improvement” and gave her all 9s.  As our friend with the shotgun might say in his gentler moments, it really didn’t deserve three 9s.  On the other hand, if you’re judging on improvement….well, maybe.

For their second dance, our competitors had the popular and important freestyle.  We know this because a bunch of people from past seasons told us the freestyle was really popular and important.  So did the judges.  So did Tom and Brooke.  This is how we strettttttcccccchhhhh nine minutes of dancing to an hour and thirteen minutes.  Anyway, Kyle’s freestyle was the “Tootsie Roll.” Although we did not learn the tootsie roll at the Alker School of Ballroom Dance in Mississippi and are thus unable to judge its technical merits competently, Kyle is still fun to watch.  There is no one of the three contestants who has come a greater distance in his dancing than Kyle.  From someone full of jokes and giggles the early weeks (and in the bottom the first week,) he has clearly tried so hard and succeeded beyond our wildest dreams.  His tootsie roll earned him two 10s and a 9 from the judges for a total of 59 for the evening.

Bristol’s freestyle was the “Cell Block Tango” from Chicago, which she had neither seen nor heard of.  Nor has she ever seen a Broadway show.  Mark probably put his finger on one of the problems (and perhaps should have gone to Plan B when he realized it) when he said that Bristol was intimidated by this dance because of her total lack of familiarity with it.  The judges pointed out that this particular dance is almost iconic and that expectations are high when it’s performed.  The Bob Fosse choreography is sharp and sultry and sexy, and that’s just not in Bristol’s range.  In short, she was painful to watch. Still, the dance earned her two 8s and a 9, for a total of 52 for the evening.

Jennifer’s freestyle, danced to “Do You Love Me?” was an effervescent, exuberant twist full of lifts and jumps and spins.  Len said she has been “a consistent, persistent juggernaut.  Fantastic!” Carrie Ann said she was “amazing.”  Bruno pointed out how much range her two dances of the evening had shown, from the dark and dramatic paso doble to the bright and bouncy twist.  It came as no surprise then that her second dance also earned her three 10s, giving her a perfect 60 for the evening. 

Tuesday night, after our competitors perform two more dances, we’ll see the “Mirror Ball Trophy” awarded to one of our three finalists.  Kyle has certainly shown the most improvement.  Bristol, probably the least gifted dancer ever to be in the finals, has been the most talked about.  Jennifer came into the competition with arguably the highest expectations of any contestant ever having starred in Dirty Dancing, one of the greatest dance movies of all time.  In this our last week, we’re just trying to be fair.  We’ve enjoyed the show this season, and we promise we will be happy no matter who wins.  As long as it’s Jennifer.

Sandy H. wouldn't let us watch this movie when it came out.
Wonder why.


Sour Cream Cat

We do the same thing when we eat sour cream!  Thanks for the tip, Casey R.!

The Least Surprising News

We were growing a little tired of the pretty blue geometric shapes on our background, so we tried unsuccessfully to redecorate with a new one.  We simply cannot remember how we customized it, so we immediately gave up because if you can't figure out how to do something right away, you should quit trying.

Then we poked around our blog and discovered our Statistics page, and it opened our eyes to the nature of our audience!  Not only are you tuning in from Denmark (hi, Staci G.), the U.K. (hi, Mackie B.), and Romania (hi, .... uhhhh ... ), but an enormous number of you found us by Googling "Hot Rugby Player."

Yes, this is the least surprising news ever: that most internet users are regular people - horny, voyeuristic hooligans, so our most viewed post by several hundred page loads is Hooligans, where we wrote about Derrick joining his business school's rugby team and featured a naked rugby-playing piece of ass.

When one performs a Google image search for a "Hot Rugby Player," CiB is thrilled to announce that we appear on Page 2!  Go Team!

We can't even find our own blog when we Google Cats in Baths!

Not that we are judging - because we initially found that picture by Googling "Hot Rugby Player."


This Is The Sound Of Pleasure

It's been a while since we've posted a good cat in a bath, and we think this video is highly deserving of a coveted place on CiB.

The sarcastic and instructional nature of this cat bath is truly inspired, and it had Derrick and me in stitches.

Enjoy, and special thanks to Meg B. for the tip!  


Dear Prince William

We have been giggling like school girls ever since the royal engagement of Prince William and Kate Middleton was announced.  We are sincerely happy for the couple and wish them all the happiness in the world!  But we cannot help but wonder that things might have turned out differently if the Prince had ever received that letter we wrote to him when we were in middle school.

Wonder whatever happened to that letter.

This seems feasible.


The Stupid Ballet

I took ballet for several years as a child, but I quit after 6th grade when the other girls got way too snobby Sandy H. offered to buy me a horse.  But I never stopped loving ballet.  Sign me up for a viewing of Center Stage any day!

A few years ago I decided to share my love for this art form with Derrick and combine it with his deep, mad love for all things Christmas: I took him to see The Nutcracker!

At first he went all "reluctant boyfriend dude" on me.

But he soldiered on and went with me anyway.  What a champ.

When the curtain opened, he was still skeptical, but then he heard the irresistible and recognizable melodies, which, he wants me to add, he used to play in symphonies when he was a brilliant child musician prodigy.

And then more magic unfolded.

And then...

And now Derrick loves The Nutcracker.  Giant Christmas trees can change anyone's mind about anything!  We just bought our tickets for the 2010 P. Family Nutcracker Viewing today.  Yay, Christmas is coming!


What Must It Be Like ...

... to be the girl wearing Princess Diana's incredible sapphire engagement ring?

Click to enlarge.

Cats In Wrapping Paper

We here at CiB are pretty stoked about Christmas already, and tomorrow morning's post will reflect that as well.  While we generally believe Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday deserving of its own month in the sun without being overshadowed by Santa Claus's birthday in December, we can't help ourselves, so we wanted to share this with you as soon as possible.

We also like how this relaxed, cooperative cat reminds of us of our sweet Franco, albeit a short-haired, less cute Franco with no black nose to speak of.  We suppose he'll do.

Oh, and try to ignore the word bubbles because they aren't funny and really take away from the overall effect.

Now, for no particular reason, here's a picture of Franco using a wire brush as a pillow:

Maybe to celebrate his birthday,
Santa will bring us an iPhone with a half-decent camera.

Breaking English News: Prince William Engaged While Widdy Breaks It Down On The Dance Floor

Here we are, near the end of our journey with Season 11 of Dancing with the Stars.  Our two pre-season favorites, Brandy and Jennifer, were, to no one’s surprise, in tonight’s semi-finals.  Also in the semi-finals were the previously unknown (to me) Kyle, doing surprisingly well, and one very long shot, Bristol, still hanging in there in spite of weeks of being at the bottom of the judges’ leader board.  The question on everyone’s minds:  Why is Bristol still here?

The question on my mind:  Why do we vote the way we do?  Apparently it isn’t just Americans who throw the judges’ numbers out when deciding how to vote. Last week an English acquaintance brought me up to speed on this season’s Strictly Come Dancing on the BBC, the show that, on our shores, became Dancing with the Stars.”  (We share two judges, Len and Bruno, who fly back and forth during the simultaneous parts of the seasons).  One contestant, Ann Widdecombe, a former Member of Parliament, has become quite the limey lightning rod.  A Rubenesque 60-something lady with a sweet smile, “Widdy” clearly has no talent, rhythm, or ability.  (See her photo here and tell me The Situation and Kate Gosselin aren’t looking better to you?)  She has been urged by some to quit the show.  The purists say she is de-valuing dance, but still the viewers keep voting her in.  Judges and dance aficionados are horrified.  Why?  People are voting for the person they like, the person they want to win.  That’s it.  Really, neither Strictly Come Dancing nor DWTS is a dance show.  That’s why there are soap stars, retired football players, and “teen activists,” on them.  If they wanted a serious dance competition, all the competitors would be professional dancers. What if the American television audience chose the winner of the Nobel Prize for Physics?  You know what would happen: viewers would vote for the person they liked – the best looking or the one who had a couple of cute kids.  We viewers don’t know anything more about ballroom dancing than we know about physics.

Behold, the grace of Widdy.

On Monday night Bristol finally gave her supporters a reason to cheer, earning three 9s from the judges for her first dance, a paso doble.  Len called her “Bristol the Pistol” and told her this was her best dance.  The audience gave her a standing ovation.  Her second dance, a waltz, was not as well-received, but still earned her a 26.  Bruno probably echoed the sentiments of many in the audience when he told her, “You have really had a journey.”  Unfortunately for Bristol, her best night was overshadowed by the best nights of all three of her competitors, all of whom outscored her.  Her final total of 53 was her highest yet, but still left her in fourth place. Jennifer earned six perfect 10s and an outpouring of praise for both her cha cha and waltz.  Bruno described her as “vibrant and sexy, with flawless execution” and told her, “You are a great dancer and never forget it.” “You are one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen,” Len effused.  Interestingly, Brandy earned almost as much praise as Jennifer, but was outscored by one point by Kyle. The judges cheered Kyle’s “bionic bum” and “pelvic action” in his samba, and his tango made Carrie Ann compare him to (DWTS winner) Emmit Smith.  He ended the evening with four 10s and two 9s for a total of 58. Brandy’s paso doble, strangely dedicated to “anyone who’s ever been bullied,” earned her three 9s, and her tango was worth three 10s, leaving her at the end of the evening in third place with 57.

DWTS managed some interesting filler material this week, stretching eight dances of a minute and a half each to (only) 91 minutes this week from their usual 120.  Friends and family described why each contestant has the ever-popular drive to win.  With that, we got one of the stranger mixtures of people on the planet on one show: Whitney Houston, Lou Gossett, Sarah Palin, and Jamie Lee Curtis.  Brandy and Jennifer have both been involved in horrific automobile accidents with fatalities.  Because of this Jennifer has had to deal with multiple surgeries, which she underwent years after the accident in order to appear on Dancing with the Stars.  Brandy says she was called a “murderer” after her accident and couldn’t leave her house for months. Kyle and Brandy came from humble beginnings, have both been child stars and have endured the ups and downs associated with that path.  Bristol was humiliated when her normal life was interrupted with a teen pregnancy played out in front of millions of people during the 2008 election.

So which three will be in the finals?  I’ve got my fingers crossed that my girl Jennifer will be.  She’s the only one of the four who’s never been in the bottom and, after Monday’s performance, she shouldn’t be tonight.  Moving along this same path, since I don’t have any reason to think this week will be any different from the other eight, Bristol will survive. (Last night she said that people vote for her because she’s real and not “phony Hollywood.”  You mean like your three fellow competitors, who are all from Hollywood?  That ought to nab you the Most Popular award in the dressing room).  So will Brandy make it an all-girls’ final or will Kyle make it through?  The way things are going this year with eliminations, who knows?  I still miss Audrina.


The Interviewee

The other night I had the most tremendously painful nightmare.  I was suddenly hired back at a girls' summer camp in upstate New York that I had worked at in the summer of 2001 teaching horseback riding. I was so looking forward to another summer of riding horses all day, every day!  But then I was told that I would not be teaching riding because I was hired at the last minute and all the riding instructor spots were filled.  Instead, I would be teaching public speaking.

For me, public speaking is the quickest route to a complete out-of-body experience.  I once had to introduce myself at a career networking event at UNC and talk about the event planning job I loved for ten teeny, tiny seconds, but mostly I remember blacking out after babbling about the giant ribbon-cutting scissors and how totally awesome they were.

I also equate public speaking with interviewing for a job.  You're put on the spot and expected to simultaneously think and speak coherently.  I don't do either of these things in real life anyway, and certainly not at the same time, so sitting down to be interviewed generally leads to a sweaty, red-faced, dry-mouthed, nervous meltdown.

I can't put a thought together.

I draw blanks.

To break the ice, I try to be funny, but end up telling horrible jokes that even I would otherwise find offensive.

No one laughs at said jokes except me.

When it dawns on me that things aren't going well, I become totally desperate, so I beg for mercy, and make empty promises laced with sappy sentiments.

Once, the pressure was so intense I actually popped a blood vessel in my eye in the middle of an interview.

Derrick is a champion interviewee and has tried to coach me.  And he has failed.

Luckily for me, my current boss has similarly spastic tendencies.

Thank goodness.


The Italian Restaurant

This past weekend, we had a lovely dinner at the home of my brother's godmother, Lin.  Lin grew up in Dallas but has lived in Brooklyn for several years.  She told us a wonderful story about the time her sister Sally came to visit her in the big ole city, and CiB would like to recount it for you with a paintbrush interpretation.

Sally arrived in New York with a simple agenda.  She had heard so much about the Italian food up north where Yankees live but had never experienced it.  Unfortunately for all Southerners, not many Italian folks made their way from Ellis Island to beyond the Mason-Dixon line in the 19th century or anytime after, so authentic Italian food is difficult to come by.  Sally was determined to get her pasta on before she left the big ole city.

She told Lin about her need to eat at a real Brooklyn Italian restaurant.  She was unable to accompany Sally at that particular hour, and unbeknownst to Lin, Sally had forgotten her glasses at home, and the dry airplane air had irritated her eyes, so she was unable to wear her contacts.  So Lin gave Sally a few simple directions to the nearest authentic Italian restaurant in her neighborhood, and off Sally went.

She saw a (blurry) sign written in Italian, with people dressed in their Sunday best standing outside.

So she went in.

Being a Southerner, Sally was not discomfited by the fact that there was a buffet in this authentic Italian restaurant, so she followed the crowd to the large table at the end of the room, excited that she would get to sample so many items.

And there was the corpse.

And that's how my brother's godmother's sister Sally thought she was at an Italian restaurant but had actually ended up in a funeral parlor.

And this is a very similar story to our previous paintbrush post, but you still liked it and you know it.


Thank God She's Back: Sandy H. Overcomes Illness To Guest Blog For Us While We Draw More Drawerings For You

So I missed a few weeks of DWTS, and my plan was to catch up on the stars and their dance moves online.  This means walking all the way to the second floor office and potentially watching HOURS of television to catch minutes of dance (I tried; I just couldn’t).  Do you realize how much they stretch this show?!  Last night the remaining five couples danced two dances for a minute and a half each. That’s a grand total of fifteen minutes of dancing out of one hundred and twenty minutes, most of it spent on miscellaneous chatter and nonsense. 

We had:  Jennifer’s dad telling her the show must go on and an orthopedist telling her maybe it shouldn’t, Kurt’s children giggling over silly scripted lines, and Bristol’s parents marveling at her tango.  In a pretty hilarious bit, Steve-O tried to teach Kyle not to be distracted from The Dance by what’s going on around you. Where were Brandy’s peeps?  I have no idea.  I was exhausted by this time. 

But enough about me and my frustrations.  Let’s have a pop quiz. Who killed hours of prime time Monday night with the following insightful questions:  “How proud are you of yourself?”, “How happy are you right now?”, “Where’s the drive coming from to see you through?”, “How challenging is this for you?”, and the ever popular “How do you feel?” alternating with the equally popular “How did that feel?” 

Correct if you answered Brooke Burke!  And Brooke doesn’t care what the answer is!  Frankly I don’t think she’d notice if they answered: “I’m not happy, have no drive, and do not find this challenging at all.” She has said that she has an earpiece so the producers can tell her what’s going on, how much time she has, and when to go to commercial.  At the same time she has to ask questions and comment on the answers.  This is HARD.  Well, if they were paying her a hundred a week or so, I’d say, yeah, maybe, but they’re probably paying her at least twice that, so can’t she figure out how to show some interest in what the contestants are saying? 

Monday night featured DWTS’s first ever “insta-dances” in addition to the dances the couples had practiced all week. For the insta-dance the contestants knew which dance they would be doing but did not know the song to which they would be doing it until minutes before they danced.  Apparently this was not that tricky, as the insta-dances provided some of the highest scores of the season, with Kyle getting two 10s and a 9 and Jennifer the first 10s all across.  Brandy and Jennifer ended the evening tied for first place, each with total scores of 57.  In her first dance, the quick step, Jennifer managed three 9s.  Brandy’s first dance, a waltz, was “an exquisite interpretation of a song, a symphony," according to Bruno and earned her a 29.  Her insta-cha cha yielded a 28 and some testy words between judge Carrie Ann and Brandy’s partner Maks. (Well, when you start an instant dance with a few seconds of walking down the stairs, you can expect repercussions from the judges.  They hate that).  Kyle ended the evening just one point below the two leading ladies with a 56.  The judges gave his first dance, a waltz, three 9s with Len telling him, “You were a bulb last week and this week you’re an orchid.”  His insta-jive to “Good Golly Miss Molly” was a huge hit.  He had the crowd on its feet, and Carrie Ann said it was “the most fun she’s had on the show this season.”

Now you may want to be sitting down for this next piece of news: the two at the bottom of the leaderboard were Kurt with 48 and Bristol with 47. So why do people continue to vote for these two?  In spite of their obvious lack of musicality and natural dance abilities, they both just keep soldiering on, clearly trying as hard as their more talented opponents with weaker results.  Personally I think Kurt is adorable, and Bristol has overcome her shyness of the early weeks.  Now she’s at least giving Brooke more than a one-word answer to those ridiculous questions.  They and their partners were obviously disappointed with their 8s, but honestly, I thought 8s were about right – even generous.  So do you think Bristol and Kurt will be in the semi-finals next week?  We’ll have to tune in tonight to find out.  I thought Audrina would be in the finals, so I’m staying away from any more predictions.

Sandy H. picked up a few of these guys on the cruise ship,
but thank God she didn't let it stop her from enjoying two painful hours of DWTS.