Sunday, October 30, 2011

Homemade Cat Food. Seriously.

I've promised it for a while, and finally, here it is.

My recipe for homemade cat food.

My cousin, Jane, is a veterinary surgeon.  She's super awesome when it comes to natural solutions to animal problems, and even performs acupuncture on animals.  I knew that when I got my cats, I would be talking to her when it came to their food.

Honestly, I wasn't surprised when she told me that most store bought cat food is pure crap.  Its just a lot of crude protein and carbs and it makes cat poop and pee really stinky.  It can also be responsible for the mythical "smelly cat" syndrome.

So, with help from Jane and the amazing people at Whiskers Holistic Pet Products, I have devised this recipe.

Let's begin.  This recipe will make enough food for three cats for about 2 weeks.


3.5 lbs. of ground turkey
6 eggs
Two medium sized sweet potatoes
1 bunch of parsley

Let's begin with the smaller bits and pieces.

The eggs and sweet potatoes need to be boiled.  To save space on the stove, I boil them both together in the same pot.

I put the eggs in water first:

Then peel and chop the sweet potatoes:

Then put them all together in boiling water:

I find the time of cooking the sweet potatoes to get them soft is a good measure of time for cooking the eggs.
While that is going on, cook the meat.

Once everything is cooked, its time to combine.  Basically you just use a food processor and make everything into a slurry, but I'll show you how I do everything.

I like to combine the eggs, parsley and sweet potatoes first.

As for the parsley, you want to use a lot of it.  More than you think.  I'm posting a picture below of my hand with the parsley to give it some scale, but its a whole bunch from the grocery store.

You just cut the stems off:

And plop that in the processor:

Its easier to chop all this up before you put anything else in there, and you add some good-for-the-feline stuff.

You want to use 1/2 a cup of the cat oil supplement.  It has all kinds of fish oils and vitamins and stuff.  If you have cats that  like to chew plastic bags, its because they aren't getting enough of this stuff.

You can also use olive oil if you want, but its not as good as this stuff.

I use just enough of this to make a parsley/cat oil pesto-esque mixture.

Then, add the cooked sweet potatoes.

Then, the eggs.  Now, you only need to use the egg yolks, the yellow part of the egg.

Now, combine it all, and you should get a mixture that looks like this:

Now, for the meat.

When cooking this, do everything you can to preserve all the turkey juices.  You can use all of the juices to help reconstitute it all and grind it up better.  If you need to add some water to make it more juice-y, go for it.

 Then, you mix it all up together.  It'll look something like this:

Now, on to actually serving the stuff.  You don't need much.  Our cats get fed twice a day.  For breakfast, they get one tablespoon each, and two tablespoons for dinner.  I'll show you how we serve the single tablespoon serving.

They get extra vitamins with their food.  I use this:

Specially suggested by the fine folks at Whiskers Holistic Pet Products, this stuff has everything you need for healthy and happy cats.  They get one teaspoon per meal.

Reconstitute the cat food with a little water and mix it till it looks like this:

Then put it on the floor, till it looks like this:

The big black guy is our boy Wee Thomas, the little beige beauty is our lady Jezebel.  The pretty little tabby in the middle, is a new addition to our house, Lola.  Our new roommate, Sam, brought Lola with her, and wanted to try out our food with her.  Amazing things have happened.  In just a couple weeks she has lost weight, she's much more active than she ever was and, according to Sam, she's lost her stink.

Apparently, she used to be a MAJOR stinky cat, with major stinky bowel movements.  Now, she doesn't have either one of those problems.

For the vitamins and oil used, if you are in NYC, Whiskers the is best place to go.  If you head toward to back right of the store there is a huge selection of vitamins and whatnot, and the guys who work there are incredibly knowledgeable.  They have two locations, one in Queens and one on East 9th street.  Check out their website.

Warning, they have a ton of awesome stuff - you are going to want to buy a lot of things there.

So, there you have it.  Let me know how your kitties enjoy!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

I Can't Think Of A Snappy Title, So This One's About Horror Movies.

Last night I was home alone with my sewing and what did I decide to do on a dark evening all by myself with the cats rummaging around in the background?

Of course I decided to watch a couple of scary movies.

Very specific things scare me.  As I have established in earlier posts, I am not a fan of alien abduction movies because when they are done properly, when the protagonist is sufficiently trapped, devoid of hope and forced into a shadowy version of their former selves, they really get under my skin.

Demon/demon possession movies also scare me.

I am a big fan of horror films that rely on the imagination of the viewer to bring the evil into focus.  Your CGI ghost/alien/monster and your special effects blood/gore will never match an imagination running rampant of what something could be.

I think the best example of this in recent years have been the Paranormal Activity movies.  Not only do the filmmakers trust the audience's imagination to fill in the gaps, they are masters at building tension, layering anxiety and the all important scare tactic, timing.

There is one excellent moment in Paranormal Activity 2 (SPOILER) when the mother (played by Sprague Grayden) is sitting alone in the kitchen.  She is the only one home, and very much alone even though its the middle of the day.  She feels more than hears a presence behind her, and she turns, looking for what has triggered that instinctual feeling we all have when someone or something is standing close to you.  Seeing nothing, she relaxes slightly, and turns back.  Just at the moment, all the cupboards burst open explosively and scare the poop out of Grayden and anyone watching.

This was an expertly executed moment.  First off, she's home alone.  The audience knows SOMETHING has to happen, so our eyes are already darting here and there on the screen to see what's going to move, where a shadow might appear, etc.  Already, the tension is building.  We feel that presence along with Grayden, and when she turns, our hackles are up right along with her's, we are so ready for something to happen and so ready to be scared.  But nothing happens.  As she relaxes slightly, so do we.  Just as we are all feeling slightly relieved that nothing happened, hell breaks loose.

The timing on the actual scare is just perfect.  Not to mention Grayden's reaction - I often wonder, watching that scene if the directors even told her what was going to happen.  It seems plausible that they could have said to her, "Ok, go sit in the kitchen - something's going to happen, but don't worry, just act naturally."  Which is mean, but makes for a great reaction from both her and the audience who needs to put on new underwear.

More traditional, religious possession movies are pretty terrifying as well.  What I find scary about this situation doesn't have as much to do with the demon - although that does give me the jibblies.  What is more frightening about that is if you are possessed by a demon, you have to rely  upon the faith of another person to save you.  The person performing an exorcism must have such strong, intense faith that the demon inside of you cannot stand to be in that person's presence.  That is not an easy thing to find, even among priests and reverend's.  An exorcist must also be very smart, very clever because he/she must force and trick the demon into revealing his true name in order to gain power over him.

There was a movie made a couple years ago called 'The Last Exorcism'.  It begins in a relatively predictable way, centered on a preacher in the south who has been an exorcist for years and is convinced that demon possession lies in the mind of the victim and by preforming exorcisms he is providing a service.  If you think you've been exorcised, then you have been.  He takes a documentary film crew with him on his "last exorcism" to prove to them and the world the fraudulent nature of this work.

Of course, things are not always what they seem.

The moments where the girl in this movie (Ashley Bell) is possessed are actually very harrowing, and very uncomfortable to watch.  Bell is quite adept at being supremely creepy.

Unfortunately, the film makers ruin the movie.

At the end, (SPOILER) the have the documentary crew and reverend come upon a ritual out in the woods, where the girl is on an alter surrounded by Satan worshipers with a great blazing fire behind her.  She's being held down and it looks like an invisible force is raping her.  Then, a large creepy looking lady pulls something out of her, and when the evil priest-y guy holds it up and you can see that its a demon-baby.

Completely ruins the movie.  I was all on board until they pulled the demon baby out of her.  I was all into this sweet girl being possessed by the devil himself, and then it turned out to just be some other random raping/abortion demon and a cult thing thrown in for good measure?  When will people learn to leave well enough alone?

If this had been a story about a man finding his true faith through unimaginable evil, I would have been totally on board.  The girl could have even died in it.  That would have worked.  Nevertheless, by trying to pull the ol' switcheroo on us and putting a twist in the end, it completely cheapened the story.

So for all you filmmakers out there - trust your audience.  We aren't all idiots.  And making a story simple doesn't make it bad.  Even in 'The Sixth Sense' the twist at the end wasn't complicated.  It aided and added to the story, it didn't detract from it.

So . . . yeah.  Scare me properly, people.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

People Bring Me Closer To Disappearing Into The Bush of Australia

The more and more I see, the more and more I despair for the future of this planet.

"Oh, Ashley, why do you say that?" You may query.  "Are you speaking of the state of the American government as it currently stands?  Do you refer to the economic crisis that worsens by the day, or our enemies that grow by the hour?  Are you planning on joining the protesters on Wall Street?"

My friends, the answer to these questions is an honest, emphatic and resounding NO.


I don't have to look the far away from my own experience to know that we're all fucked.

The future of this country, and the world as we know it lies in, as it may imply, the future.  And the custodianship of the future belongs to the young, the kids who are in school now, who are developing their own dreams.

The little fuckers who write insulting things on the internet.

Ok, I admit, I have a difficult time dealing with little shits who write nasty comments on videos or posts.  They do it because it's a safe environment, because they don't have to actually speak to someone, they get to be anonymous and they aren't in danger of being punched in the face.

As a performer, I have one or two things on YouTube.  And I know that I get way too emotionally involved in people being assholes, so I have the comments set up so if you want to comment, it must first be approved by yours truly.

One of my videos recently got a comment.  I am always interested in constructive criticism.  I really do welcome it.  Do you have something to tell me that will help me improve my craft and become better at what I do?  You took time out of your day to aid in my crusade to be part of the top tier of performers?  That is incredibly selfless.  I could cry.  Honestly, I have tears in my eyes as I type this.  How on this plain or any plain of existence can I possible thank you for that?

Or are you just being a little shit.

I am addressing this to youtube user manaranam.

This person (gender unknown) watched a snippet of a live edit of myself and another very fine actor performing Danny and the Deep Blue Sea.  This play is full of very complicated themes, dramatic and funny.  It is as visceral as it gets, dealing with two people far down the road to despair who find each other, and through their own tragedies, save each other.

To which manaranam commented - "this is stooped"

I didn't clean that up at all.  

Lower case lettering.

No punctuation.

And really, not making any sense at all.

I am assuming that what manaranam meant to say was - "This is stupid."  I don't see how he could have actually meant "stooped".  The dictionary defines the word "stooped" as "to bend the head and shoulders, or the body generally, forward and downward from an erect position; to carry the head and shoulders habitually bowed forward."  

Maybe I'm wrong.  Maybe manaranam is concerned about us.  Maybe he/she saw something in the film that made them think that we need to see a doctor, maybe somethings' wrong with our back, maybe this was his/her way to reaching out to us to let us know we need to get something checked out.

Hey, perhaps that's the reason there was no punctuation!  User manaranam was in such a rush to get us this information, they couldn't even bother with proper grammar!  They were all, "Fuck it, these people need to know about the stooping!"

Unfortunately, I have a strong feeling this is not the case.  

Come back when you learn how to spell the word "stupid", dipshit.

This, dear reader, is why I despair for the future.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Don't Dedicate Your Life To Something Stupid

So, we were talking about aliens once.

Now, I am not ashamed to say that when it comes to aliens, they freak me the fuck out.  I have a hard time believing that adorable, life-loving, humor-inducing aliens a la "E.T." and "Close Encounters" will get to us before the terrifying, unintelligible, human-hating/consuming aliens of, well, "Alien", "Signs" or "Little Shop of Horrors". 

Don't feed the plants!

I do think there must be something out there in the vast expanse of the galaxy.  Honestly, I would feel really bad if it was just us.  Come on, out of infinite possibilities in the infinite infinity of space, it's just us?

Seems wasteful.

Anyway, so I think there must be other civilizations out there somewhere, and I can even consider the claims that these otherworldly beings have already visited our lonely blue planet.

But I gotta tell ya, the people who are often pro-UFO are making that really really difficult for me.

For example, remember the post about Ancient Aliens?  Don't answer that, of course you do, you read everything I write and every day you don't see a new post is a day without sunshine.

Well, on this program not only do they make the most outrageous claims, but they have the most outrageous people making them.

One of the primary contributors to this show is Giorgio Tsoukalos.

He looks like this.

Ok, that's not a fair picture.  Here's a better one.

Honest.  That's a better picture.

This guys comes up with some of the dumbest theories of all time.  I honestly don't understand how he can't hear himself talk and not say, "Man, I am completely full of shit."

For example, "Mary (of Bible fame) was visited by an alien, which she mistook for an angel, impregnated her and Jesus was actually half alien."

Even my cats roll their eyes when they hear this shit.

See, that's something else these guys need to work on.  When regular, every day, respected scientist talk about science-y stuff, its basically boring.  Even stuff they are wildly passionate about comes out like a bad math teacher trying to teach you fractions.

When they get all tense and excited about the whole alien thing, they just sound super crazy.  Honestly, its hard to say things like, "King Tut was probably an alien hybrid," without sounding like you forgot to take your meds, but if you say it seriously and calmly and not jumping up and down and explaining it like you were talking to a five year old, you might get a little further.

Not much, but a little.

Oh, and then they say things like, "Everybody wants to meet an alien."

Not true, "scientist"!

I don't.  Not until they've been thoroughly vetted and investigated to make sure they aren't gonna suck my lung out through my nostrils.  More to the point, I don't know what I would say to an alien.  I'd probably say something really inappropriate, like, "So, why are all you guys so slime-y?", "What's the deal with anal probing?", "Did you really have crazy alien sex with ancient Greek maidens and tell them you were Zeus?" - that's another claim by these "scientists".

They just said the words "death ray" in a serious context.  YOU CAN'T CALL IT A DEATH RAY. 

I can't deal with this shit.