Archive | January, 2014

John Elway’s Last Game

john elway last gameOn January 31, 1999, famed Denver Broncos quarterback John Elway led his team to a victory over the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl XXXIII. Going out on a win, this would be Elway’s last game.

After a successful high school football career, Elway was the most sought after high school player in the country with 60 scholarship offers. His school of choice was Stanford, and though he never led his college team to a bowl game, he completed 774 passes for 9,349 yards and 77 touchdowns in his accomplished college career. As a result, he was entered into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2000. In the 1983 NFL Draft, Elway was picked first overall by the Baltimore Colts. At that time, the Colts were one of the worst teams in the league, and Elway did not wish to play for them. Elway, who was also an accomplished baseball player, threatened to give up football and play for the New York Yankees if the Colts did not trade him. Elway was eventually traded to the Denver Broncos for offensive lineman Chris Hinton, backup quarterback Mark Herrmann, and a first-round pick by the Colts  in the 1984 draft.

Because Elway was considered one of the most anticipated athletes in NFL history, local Colorado papers began to run a section called “The Elway Watch.” He had a rough start as most NFL newbies do, but ended up leading his team to five Super Bowls. His first three Super Bowls were in the 1986, 1987, and 1989 seasons, but his team suffered losses in all three (39-20 to the ’86 Giants, 42-10 to the ’87 Redskins, and 55-10 to the ’89 49ers – one of the worst losses in Super Bowl history). After these three losses, Elway became known as the quarterback who could not deliver when he reached the big game.

Those losses only fueled Elway’s drive to win. Eight years later, Elway finally led the Broncos to another Super Bowl in the 1998 season. The Broncos faced off against the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XXXII, and though Elway threw no touchdown passes, the Broncos finally picked up a win, with a final score of 31-24.

In the 1999 season, the Broncos once again made it to the Super Bowl, with more wins in a three-year span than any other team had in NFL history. The Broncos met the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl XXXIII at the Pro Player Stadium in Miami, Florida. The Falcons started out well, scoring a field goal and putting them up 3-0. The response was quick from the Broncos, with Elway setting up a series of completions, allowing fullback Howard Griffith to score a 1-yard touchdown run, putting the Broncos in the lead 7-3. In the second quarter, the Broncos kicked another field goal for another 3 points, while the Falcons missed one, causing the Broncos to take back possession of the ball and score another touchdown. The Falcons’ Tim Dwight’s big return gave the Falcons a short field, and Morten Anderson kicked right before halftime, bringing the score to 17-6, with Denver in the lead.

In the third quarter, both teams failed to score, but both put more points on the scoreboard early in the fourth. Darrien Gordon then intercepted his first of two passes of the game for Denver, and returned the ball to Atlanta’s 24-yard line. A 15-yard completion by Elway gave the Broncos 1st and goal from the 5-yard line. Griffith then made his way to the endzone after two running plays and the Broncos led 24-6.

After Gordon intercepted his second pass of the game, he returned the ball to Atlanta’s 48-yard line. From there, Elway completed a short pass to Terrell Davis who drove the ball 39 yards. Two plays later, Elway made a three-yard touchdown run, bringing the score up to 31-6. This touchdown made Elway the second player in history to score touchdowns in four different Super Bowls. The Falcons’ Dwight returned the kick-off 94 yards to score another touchdown. The Broncos recovered the onside kick and a 25-yard completion by Elway led to another Broncos’ field goal score. With a little over 2 minutes on the clock, the Falcons scored another touchdown, but time was not on the Falcons’ side.

With 37 seconds left on the clock, a victorious Elway made his way to the sidelines and was engulfed by his excited teammates. “That walk I’ll remember for the rest of my life,” Elway recounted later, “That’s the kind of walk you dream of as a kid.” The Broncos were Super Bowl champions with a final score of 34-19, making them the seventh team to win back-to-back Super Bowls. The last team to accomplish this feat was the Dallas Cowboys in 1992 and 1993. Elway completed a total of 18 passes for a total of 336 yards and was named the Super Bowl XXXIII MVP, making him the oldest MVP in Super Bowl history.

Rumors abounded as to whether or not Elway would stick around and try and win the Broncos a third straight Super Bowl championship, something no team had ever done. Though the prospect was tempting, Elway decided to go out with a bang and announced his retirement on May 2 of that year.

Sources: Wikipedia, Lootmeister Sports, NY Daily News

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National Croissant Day

croissantsJanuary 30 is National Croissant Day! Croissants are flaky, buttery pastries, identified by their crescent shape.

Just as we are unsure why January 30 has been made this unofficial holiday, tales abound about the origin of the croissant itself as well. What is thought to be the precursor to the croissant, the Kipferl, dates back to 13th century Austria. The Kipferl is usually made plain in a variety of shapes or with the addition of nuts. The first of the tales about origin of the crescent-shaped treat goes back to the Battle of Tours in 732. A Frankish victory over Umayyad forces led to Islamic crescent-shaped treats being made in celebration. Another story states that when Turkish forces tried to invade Vienna in 1683 by tunneling underground, Viennese bakers who were working in a basement heard the Turks and alerted the army. In celebration of outwitting the Turks, the bakers shaped breads to look like crescent moons, which was the symbol of the Ottoman Empire.

How the pastry arrived in France and received the name croissant, meaning crescent in French, also has varied origins. Some think that Marie Antoinette, the formerly Austrian princess who married Louis XVI, introduced the pastry to France from her homeland of Austria 100 years after the Turks failed to invade Vienna. Others say that the croissant came into being in France in 1839 when August Zang, an Austrian artillery officer, opened a Viennese bakery (Boulangerie Viennoise) in Paris. His Viennese pastries became popular and the French began to imitate this baking style, using yeast-leavened dough. From this the French version of the Kipferl was created and named croissant for it’s crescent shape. It’s recognizable shape and name became known all over the world.

If you’re not already enjoying a delicious croissant with your breakfast, we’ve gathered up some recipes to help you celebrate!

Sources: Punchbowl, Wikipedia, Examiner.com, CNN’s Eatocracy

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Oprah’s Birthday

Oprah_WinfreyJanuary 29 is Oprah Winfrey’s birthday! Winfrey is a media mogul, actress, philanthropist, and producer, who is best known for her talk show, The Oprah Winfrey Show. The show ran for 25 seasons, won multiple awards, and is credited with popularizing confessional media.

In 1954, Winfrey was born in a rural town in Mississippi, and lived an impoverished childhood with her grandmother until her mother moved her to inner-city Milwaukee at the age of 6. Winfrey has stated that she suffered sexual abuse from her male family members and her mother’s male friends when she was younger. She eventually moved to Nashville to live with her supposed father who was a barber turned businessman.

Winfrey’s father, Vernon, put an emphasis on her education, and she became an honor student, eventually receiving a full scholarship to Tennessee State University. Around this time, she began reporting news for a local black radio station, and soon became the youngest and first black female anchor on  Nashville’s WLAC-TV. After moving to Baltimore in 1976 to co-anchor the six o’ clock news, she was hired on as a co-host for Baltimore’s TV chat show, People are Talking.

It was after a move to Chicago to host AM Chicago, a morning show with low ratings, that Winfrey began to take the televised talk show world by storm. She brought the show from last to first in ratings, passing up former leader Phil Donahue‘s talk show. Because of her bold and open personality, she gained hundreds of thousands of viewers, and was cast in Steven Spielberg’s The Color Purple in 1985. She received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her role, and the next year was given her own hour-long syndicated talk show named The Oprah Winfrey Show. The show’s syndication allowed it to be on 120 channels, gaining a whopping 10 million loyal viewers. In its first year, the show made $125 million, $30 million of which went to Winfrey. In order to gain ownership of her program from ABC, Winfrey started her own production company called Harpo Productions (Oprah spelled backwards). This move meant Winfrey would make even more from the continued syndication of her show.

During the early years of her show, it was dubbed as tabloid television. Not wanting to be associated with other gossipy and “trashy” television shows, Winfrey shifted the topics of her show and began reporting on a wider range of topics including health, geopolitics, spirituality, and celebrities who were involved in social issues. At first, her ratings suffered, but the respect she earned from her decision to avoid tabloid topics gained her popularity, and her viewership steadily increased.

Winfrey’s opinions and endorsements have proven to have a huge influence on public opinion. Her launch of “Oprah’s Book Club,” has had a significant impact on the publishing industry. After her successful weight loss efforts, Winfrey’s personal chef and trainer both produced best-selling books. Dr. Phil, Dr. Oz, and Rachael Ray can all credit their talk show successes to Winfrey and Harpo Productions after each made multiple appearances on The Opera Winfrey Show. Winfrey’s only political endorsement came with the campaign President Barack Obama, for whom it is estimated she influenced over a million votes in his favor.

In 1999, Winfrey co-founded the Oxygen Network, which produced programming targeted at female audiences. The next year she launched O, The Oprah Magazine and soon after signed a contract to continue making The Oprah Winfrey Show through 2011. When her 25-year old talk show ended, it was syndicated on 212 stations in the United States and 100 countries across the world. She started her own network, the Oprah Winfrey Network, when her contract with ABC was finished. The network didn’t receive much attention at first, but made headlines when Winfrey interviewed Lance Armstrong, cyclist and seven time Tour de France winner. His titles were rescinded when he was charged with using performance-enhancing drugs. Armstrong’s admission of his substance abuse on OWN reportedly earned the network millions of dollars in revenue.

Winfrey has been ranked as the richest African-American of the 20th century, the only black billionaire in North America, Life magazine’s most influential woman of her generation, and the greatest black philanthropist in the history of the United States. As a children’s rights activist, Winfrey played a pivotal role in President Bill Clinton signing a bill creating a nationwide database of convicted child abusers. She also founded the Family for Better Lives foundation and was the first person to receive the Bob Hope Humanitarian Award from the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. The nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, was given to Winfrey by President Obama in 2013 for the contributions she has made to her country.

Happy birthday, Oprah!

Sources: Biography.com, Wikipedia, IMDB

 

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Fun at Work Day

funatworkJanuary 28 is Fun at Work Day! In an ideal world, everyone would have a job they loved every part of, so the words “fun” and “work” would be synonymous. For most of us, however, work is not always fun because, well, you have to get work done! For the lucky few who enjoy doing every aspect of their job, every day is Fun at Work Day. For everyone else who dreads at least a little bit of their work day, today is meant to make things more bearable.

According to several reports produced over the years, over half of Americans feel uninspired or disengaged at work and have a perpetual case of the “Mondays.” If your monotonous schedule has got you feeling a little down in the dumps, liven up your work environment.  Personalizing your desk with decorations, photos, or other personal mementos can make you feel more comfortable and relaxed while you’re working because your space will really become your own. Socializing with and having a good rapport with your co-workers can also make time pass more quickly and make working more like hanging out with your friends (while still being productive, of course).

Dilbert 014Desk Covercomp.inddThose are just small suggestions for things you can do on a daily basis to make your work life more tolerable. Since today isn’t just any other day though, you can be a bit more elaborate with your “fun.” Buzzfeed has come up with a list of 26 Delightful Ways to Make the Work Day More Fun that we give our stamp of approval. Some of our favorites are: using break room condiments to bring your favorite video game characters to life, starting a new silly filing system, and giving your office some decorative flair using only Post-It notes.

Take a break (or two… or three) today – you deserve it! Just make sure to check with your supervisor before you start having TOO much fun.

Sources: Holiday Insights, World’s Special Days, USA Today

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Thomas Crapper Dies

Sanitary pioneer Thomas Crapper died at the age of 73 on January 27, 1910.

It is a common misconception that Crapper developed the flushable toilet; it was actually invented by John Harrington in 1596. Crapper did, however, popularize the toilet, promote sanitary plumbing, and invent the ballcock, which is used to fill water tanks.

Thomas Crapper & Co. bathroom fixtures were considered the most luxurious of his time, so he was asked to outfit the palace of King Edward VII. This gained Thomas Crapper & Co. mass popularity and they went on to provide bathroom fittings to homes and buildings of all kinds.

Sources: Wikipedia, ThomasCrapper.com

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Ellen Degeneres’ Birthday

39th Annual People's Choice Awards - PortraitsJanuary 26 is Ellen Degeneres’ birthday! Degeneres is an American comedian, actress, and talk show host best known for starring in her self-titled sitcom, Ellen, and hosting her own talk show since 2003 called the Ellen Degeneres Show.

Degeneres was born in Metairie, Louisiana in 1958, and moved to Atlanta, Texas with her mother when she was a teenager after her parents divorced. She worked a variety of odd jobs when she was younger ranging from waitress to house painter to legal secretary. She had dreams of becoming a veterinarian because of her love for animals, but believed she wasn’t “book smart” enough to pursue the career. Her older brother, Vance, who was pursuing a career as an actor and comedian as a correspondent on The Daily Show first sparked her interest in comedy. At a public speaking event, Degeneres was nervous and began inadvertently making jokes to the crowd. They loved her awkward comedic style, and she was soon offered stand-up comedy gigs.

Her comedy career began when she was in her early 20s and began performing at a local coffee shop. Before long, she was touring nationally and won Showtime‘s Funniest Person in America in 1982. Her big break came in 1986 when a booking agent from The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson caught her act at the Improv in Hollywood. She was invited to perform on the show, and after her performance was invited to sit on the famous “couch” and chat with Carson. She was the first female comedian to be offered this opportunity on the show. From then on, she became a regular guest on late night talk shows and her popularity with the American public grew.

The young comedienne’s observational humor was a hit with audiences, and she began starring in her own sitcom, Ellen, in 1994. In 1997, the show and Ellen’s life took a major turn when she made her homosexuality public in an episode of the popular show titled, “The Puppy Episode.” This was the first time the lead character of a sitcom openly acknowledged their homosexuality on air. Degeneres and the network both received criticism, which they had expected, and several affiliate networks and sponsors refused to air the episode and withdrew their advertisements. Gay activists and supporters praised their efforts in raising awareness to gay issues, and many episodes following the coming out episode focused on gay themes, bringing them to the attention of national audiences. Despite making history, receiving an Emmy award, and gaining supportive audiences, the show was cancelled in 1998.

Degeneres’ popularity has only grown stronger over the years, and she starred in several movies before returning to television in 2003 as the host of her own talk show, The Ellen Degeneres Show. Though many other daytime talk shows popped up during this time, Degeneres was the only one to leave a lasting impression on her audience and has received countless awards for her show, including 11 Daytime Emmy Awards. The same year she began hosting her talk show, she lent her voice to Dory, the ditzy lovable companion of Nemo in the hit animated feature, Finding Nemo. In 2009, she celebrated the 1000th episode of the talk show, and that same year, became a judge on the ninth season of American Idol. Her infectious comedic style has also led her to host a plethora of award shows including the Primetime Emmy Awards and the Academy Awards.

In 2004, Degeneres began dating fellow actress Portia de Rossi, and in 2008 they were married in one of California’s most high-profile same-sex unions after its legalization. Degeneres is also known for her ethical vegan diet, and has started a vegan outreach website called “Going Vegan with Ellen,” as well as opened an all-vegan restaurant in Los Angeles.

Happy birthday Ellen!

Sources: Biography.com, Wikipedia, IMDB 

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Opposite Day

opposite-dayJanuary 25 is NOT Opposite Day. Remember not to celebrate and believe everything you hear. Today is not special and it’s just like every other day.

Okay, all jokes aside – Opposite Day DOES have a real date, though its origin is unknown, and it is typically celebrated today. The general rule of thumb behind Opposite Day is that you are supposed to do or say the opposite of what you actually mean, and likewise take everything everyone else says with a grain of salt. ‘No’ means ‘yes,’ ‘left’ means ‘right,’ ‘up’ means ‘down,’ and… you get the picture. Young children are the biggest proponents of this silly holiday, but it can be a welcome excuse for adults to break up the monotony of their daily routines as well. Doing things you wouldn’t usually do and living your life the opposite of your norm could bring about surprising results. Maybe you’ll discover some new hobbies or interests that you used to be opposed to. One can begin to wonder though, since today was declared Opposite Day, is it even really today? Before we confuse you any more, we’ll give you some tips on how to properly celebrate:

  1. Start by inverting your statements to others. In other words, say the opposite of what you mean. It’s in good taste to keep these statements playful and silly – don’t say anything that could potentially offend your friends and family! This is typically best practiced with others who know it is Opposite Day so you can laugh and joke together.
  2. Eat your meals in the opposite order. Who wouldn’t want dessert first?
  3. Walk backwards! Just be sure you’re still watching where you’re going.
  4. Wear clothing that is opposite of the way you normally dress. Explore new fashions that you were too afraid or self-conscious to before!
  5. Take a different route to work, school, or anywhere else you may be traveling. Who knows – maybe you could discover a new scenic way of getting around!
  6. Try taking on a new hobby that varies from any you already have or would typically take on. You could find that something you originally opposed doing may not be that bad after all.
  7. Opposite Day aficionados have been known to start their Opposite Days by saying, “After this phrase is over, it will be officially opposite day.”

Now, don’t go out into the world, and please stick to your normal routine!

Sources: Examiner.com, Geekdays, Wikipedia

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National Peanut Butter Day

peanutbutter2n-1-web January 24 is National Peanut Butter Day! The food spread made from roasted peanuts first rose up in popularity in the late 1800s. It is now considered a staple in 90% of American households, and the United States is the leading exporter of this savory and sweet spread.

Though it’s up for debate on who the original creator of peanut butter was, it started gaining popularity in the late 1800s. John Harvey Kellogg, who was a doctor and is also known for creating corn flakes cereal with his brother, patented the “Process of Preparing Nut Meal” in 1895. The holistic doctor fed peanut butter made from boiled peanuts to patients in his sanitarium. A St. Louis snack maker named George Boyle has also been credited with making peanut butter with roasted peanuts as early as 1894. George Washington Carver, who invented many other peanut-related products, is also sometimes credited with its invention. Spreadable peanut butter as we know it today was created in 1923 by the Heinz company after they homogenized peanuts.

Did you know that it takes about 550 peanuts to make a 12 ounce jar of peanut butter? Or how about that the average American consumes over six pounds of peanut butter products every year? Whether it’s paired with it’s jelly counterpart in a sandwich, baked into cookies, or slathered on a stick of celery – we love peanut butter! It’s a good thing too because peanut butter has many proven health benefits. Two teaspoons of peanut butter contain 12.3 grams of unsaturated fat, making it a heart healthy snack. Peanut butter is also high in potassium, which can help reduce the risk of heart disease. Because of peanut butter’s richness, it can keep you full longer than other snacks, which can help prevent unwanted weight gain. A serving of peanut butter also contains about 4.3 milligrams of niacin, a nutrient that helps keep you sharp and prevents cognitive decline leading to diseases such as Alzheimer’s in older age.

Celebrate National Peanut Butter Day by trying some of these recipes including the popular snack food:

Happy National Peanut Butter Day!

Sources: PunchbowlWikipedia, Babble

 

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Casablanca Released in Theaters

Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman filming the final scene of Casablanca.

Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman filming the final scene of Casablanca.

On January 23, 1943, romantic war drama Casablanca was released in United States theaters. The iconic film tops many “greatest films of all time” lists, and has grown in popularity over the years as a generational touchstone, referenced countless times in other areas of popular culture.

The film was made and is set during World War II in French-occupied Morocco. The story line follows Humphrey Bogart‘s character, Rick, an American and owner of “Rick’s Café Américain,” which is known as a place for expatriates and refugees. Trouble arises when Rick’s ex-lover, Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman), and her seemingly new husband and fugitive Czech resistance leader (Paul Henreid) arrive in Casablanca, searching for exit visas to escape to the United States. The three then become wrapped up in a volatile web of political and romantic espionage. Rick is forced to choose between love and the greater good. The film was Bogart’s first time to play the part of romantic leading man, and it has since become one of his most celebrated roles. His character’s tough exterior and sentimental and wounded heart combine to make him a quintessential part of Hollywood’s golden age of renowned players.

No one involved in the production of Casablanca expected the movie to be anything extraordinary. It was one of hundreds of films that came out every year in Hollywood, and was not thought to have a huge impact. This belief was held despite the fact that producer Hal B. Wallis paid $20,000, the most anyone had ever paid, for the rights to the play Casablanca was based on, Everybody Comes to Rick’s. After it’s release, Casablanca was met with mostly good reviews, though many were still unenthusiastic about the film. The New Yorker called it just “pretty tolerable.”

In spite of unfavorable reviews from some audiences, Casablanca grossed a substantial, though not incredible, $3.7 million during its initial release. The release also coincided with the Casablanca Conference, which was an important meeting between President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston Churchill. The film studio utilized this as a type of free publicity. Casablanca was nominated for eight Academy Awards and won three – Best Writing, Screenplay; Best Director, and Outstanding Motion Picture.

Over the years, where other movies of the era faded into the past, Casablanca‘s popularity has continued to grow, turning it into a timeless classic which has a legendary status that propels it above other cinema. It’s combination of romance, comedy, and patriotism in a time of war resonate with audiences of the past and present.  The film had grossed $6.8 million by 1955, making it the third most successful wartime movie of Warner Bros. Studios. It also became the most broadcasted film on American television by 1977.

The movie has become such a large part of popular culture over the years, that even those who have not seen the movie are still able to quote some of it’s most famous lines like, “Here’s looking at you, kid,” which was improvised by Bogart during filming, and “Play it, Sam,” which is probably the most misquoted line in film history, largely due to the Woody Allen movie titled Play it Again, Sam. Six memorable quotes from the movie made it onto the American Film Institues 100 Years… 100 Movie Quotes.

Though many have tried to recreate this masterpiece of American cinema in their own way, few have succeeded in receiving favorable reviews. A few examples include the ill-fated 1980 rip-off, Caboblanco, featuring Charles Bronson as a Peruvian barkeeper and 1996′s Barb Wire with Baywatch‘s Pamela Anderson giving a failed attempt at a futuristic version of Bogie’s role. Some remakes and spoofs have received applause though, including Carrotblanca, a short Looney Tune’s version of the famous film with Bugs Bunny filling Bogart’s shoes.

In the over 70 years since the release of this American classic, the film continues to win over the hearts of viewers young and old, remaining a piece of cinematic history that, as playwright Murray Burnett said is “true yesterday, true today, true tomorrow.”

Sources: Wikipedia, Turner Classic Movies, IMDB

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Answer Your Cat’s Question Day

Why Cats Do That Calendar from Calendars.com.

Why Cats Do That Calendar from Calendars.com.

January 22 is Answer Your Cat’s Question Day! Our feline friends can be quite mysterious. Are those meows masking their true feelings? Or are they feeling purrfectly fine, and just want you to know it? Today is meant for us to try and figure out the meaning behind their many different meows, and answer our curious cats’ questions.

As the most popular pet in the world, according to Scientific American, cats have been domesticated companions of humans for about 9,500 years. Because they have been active partners of humans for many centuries, cats are now found in almost every area of the world humans inhabit. Though they have played a pivotal role in human happiness, we still do not fully understand one another. Today was created as a way for us to gain some insight into the minds of our furry friends. Our loyal buddies deserve a day where we make a more conscious effort to figure out and satisfy their wants and needs.

What Cats Teach Us Calendar from Calendars.com.

What Cats Teach Us Calendar from Calendars.com.

Not sure what sort of questions your fuzzy feline may be pondering? We’ve compiled a potential Q&A to prepare you:

  • Cat: Is it really necessary for you to bathe me?
  • Person: I know you bathe yourself regularly, but a few baths a year are good to get rid of any leftover dirt you may have missed. Just be glad you’re not a dog.
  • Cat: Why do you take away my favorite resting spots?
  • Person: Oh, you mean that newspaper or book I was reading? I’ll try and be more conscientious next time.
  • Cat: Why do you get mad when I go to the bathroom somewhere besides that stinky box you gave me?
  • Person: Because it’s gross! But I’ll try harder to make sure your litter box is always clean so that this doesn’t happen.
  • Cat: Why do you keep petting me when I tell you to stop? Do you not know what this swishing tail means?
  • Person: Because you’re soft and adorable! I’ll be more aware of your subtle cat cues in the future though.
  • Cat: Who is this stranger and why won’t they stop trying to pick me up before I’ve even got to know them?
  • Person: They’re my friend and they love cats! I’ll be sure to tell them to leave you alone until you’ve sniffed around and decided if you want to be friend back first, sorry!
  • Cat: If cats have nine lives, which one am I on?

… we’ll let you ponder the answer on that last one!

Sources: Punchbowl, Cat Channel, Petcentric, Wikipedia

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