Adorable Cats Invade California, Bringing Memes And Lulz

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Pop open the catnip and get ready to go viral–the 2nd Annual Internet Cat Video Festival arrives in Long Beach, California tonight, and to The Echo in Los Angeles tomorrow evening. In addition to a jam-packed roster of clips from the year’s most Internet-famous  felines, the festival also promises “cat-centric art,” “celebricat” cameos, and more. I chatted with event host (and Henri le Chat Noir creator) William Braden about the furry film fest.

How do you think the Cat Video Festival will translate in Los Angeles? Do you think the cat-fan community is as vibrant and eager there as it is in Minneapolis, where the festival was first launched by the Walker Art Center?

I’ve had the chance to see the reel now in a dozen cities and it always goes over well. That’s really the best part, for me, just seeing the universal appeal. If we’re in a small rock club in Oakland with the beer flowing, or we’re in a huge performing arts center in San Luis Obispo with a bunch of families making an evening of it… it always sends people way with a smile. I expect the California shows to have their own vibe, but I’m sure it will play well.

Is there a certain point when an internet cat video transcends the status of ‘light entertainment’ and becomes art? 

I think our go-to answer when asked if this is art or not, or if any specific cat video is art, is… “Maybe?” Ultimately it doesn’t really matter. Just as everyone has a favorite video, or responds to the videos in a different way, people are free to make up their own minds as to whether it is art or not. Certainly there are some videos that, on their own, are just silly and not particularly artistic, but when you organize them all together? Perhaps…

My two cats Uni and Chloe run a website called www.shitmycatsread.com. (They once interviewed James Franco!) So far there’s no real ‘video‘ component to what they do, but that’s not entirely outside the realm of the possible. What suggestions might you offer them if they were aiming for inclusion in the next edition of the festival?

Keep it short and sweet, make sure there is some universal appeal, and try to make the funniest bit come right at the end of the video so people are more inclined to share it and forward it along to friends.

There’s no Internet Dog Festival. What do you think it is about cats that just makes them, well, better than dogs, at least in terms of their viral lovability?

Dogs have dog parks! They walk around on leashes and meet other dogs and other people and it’s already a very social thing. Cats and their owners have these universal experiences, but they have to share them and appreciate them more often online. The Internet Cat Video Festival is about taking that virtual experience into the “real” world, and making a social event out of it. We like to say that it’s not just about watching cat videos, it’s about watching cat videos together.

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The Second Internet Cat Video Festival is at the Federal Bar in Long Beach, CA tonight, and the Echo in Los Angeles tomorrow.

Main image: Shameless guest appearance by Uni and Chloe Zola Volcano of Shit My Cats Read.

 

Cats, the Crips Take Over the L.A. Art Scene; Snoop Dogg’s On Guard Duty

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Proof that the felines-in-art trend has more than nine lives: “The Cat Art Show,” coming to Los Angeles in late January, which showcases the work of dozens of artists, from Shepard Fairey to Tracey Emin and Liz Markus. (Some of the profit from the selling exhibition will benefit the city’s Stray Cat Alliance.)

It’s already been a busy year for cat-fancying curators. This summer, New York space White Columns hosted “The Cat Show,” which featured an artist-designed environment in which adoptable kitties frolicked for the public. (The previous year, alternative art institution Tomato House hosted a similarly themed exhibition out in Brooklyn.) In August, the Walker Art Center held its second Internet Cat Video Festival —they’ll be providing film programming for “The Cat Art Show” in L.A.

One of my favorite inclusions in the L.A. exhibition is Marc Dennis’s A Great Big Giant World, 2013, which depicts Snoop Lion-as-museum-guard standing in front of an ornately framed image of an impossibly cute kitten. “I actually don’t like cats in real life, but I love to paint them,” Dennis admitted. “As an artist I create staged and voyeuristic scenarios of contemporary American culture. My painting is a riff on the incredible, sometimes overbearing Internet love for cats and the passionate respect and love for hip hop. I look at cats as divas, much like hip-hop culture in a sense has become, but with a bigness, an air, a kind of gangster stately disposition. I chose to paint Snoop Lion (formerly known as Snoop Dogg) not just because I enjoy his music but because he is an iconic figure, and in my painting he serves as a sentry, a guard of sorts, watching over ‘Biggie Kitty.’ And the Victorian nouveau style blue and white bandana pattern background is a tongue in cheek reference to the Crips.”

“The Cat Art Show” curated by journalist Susan Michals also features work by Ramsey Dau, Buff Monster, Ray Caesar, Tim Biskup, Brandon Boyd, FAILE, Justin Bower, and many other artists. Below, a few highlights of to expect when the show opens in January. Visit the official website for additional information.

guy denning_CATpiece Guy Denning, Kraft durch Freude (says Balthus)

NicholasChistiakov Nicholas Chistiakov, Orange Cat

NoelFielding Noel Fielding, Bubble Gum Cat at the Cinema

RachelSchlueter Rachel Schlueter, Billy Raised by Raccoons 

RayCaesar Ray Caesar, Kitten

STARE_KETKevin Earl Taylor, Stare

Main image: Marc Dennis, A Great Big Giant World

From Breading Cats, to Bearding Them, to Boarding Them

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For whatever reason, probably because it’s the Internet and that’s what you do, people are always looking for ways to simultaneously get attention and publicly embarrass their poor, defenseless cats. First came the trend of ‘breading’ cats, putting their little faces through pieces of bread like a head through one of those kitschy county fair/Oktoberfest photo cutouts. Then came ‘bearding’ cats, bribing them to look up with a treat or whatever while you snapped a picture of them looking like a beard on your face. This was also kind of dumb.

And now there’s ‘boarding’ cats, which actually might be the cutest of the three memes, in which a cat is placed in a box (and cats love boxes, so they may actually be down with this one) and rolled very gently on a skateboard. In the first cat-‘boarding’ video, the cat shows basically no affect, as if he or she is totally cool with this situation and is just going to enjoy the ride. And shouldn’t life be like that? Shouldn’t we all go with the current of the winds and the lift of the wheels as if we, too, were cats in a box on a skateboard? Cat boarder, you may be on to something. Ride on, bro.

Cats on Broadway Get A Whole New Meaning With Adorable Audition

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Last week, BlackBook Senior Editor Tyler Coates, who also mans the Cats beat so no one else has to, informed us about a special production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s legendary musical featuring more than 3,000 performers. But what about a New York theatre outing for those lovers of the stage who are feline-friendly, but find the idea of a megaproduction of Cats utterly terrifying? Thanks to the newly revived Breakfast at Tiffany’s, you’re in luck.

The NYT (ON IT!) sent an intrepid reporter to visit the auditions of two rescue cats competing for the role of Holly Golightly’s cat in the show. The ginger Vito Vincent is levelheaded and curls gently into the male lead’s arms. His competition, Monty, is a bit more of a diva—leaping off stage mid-scene, ignoring the commands of his trainer and carrying himself like he owns the place. Please. Get a few more credits under your belt before you have that kind of attitude, Monty.

While Monty steals much of the screen time, Vito would be more of a traditional casting decision, with a coloring closer to that of Orangey, who played the role alongside Audrey Hepburn in the film. Orangey also won two Patsy awards, the animal kingdom equivalent of the Oscar, so, you know, the bar’s pretty high, cats. You’ve gotta earn that kitty EGOT. Watch Vito and Monty act their tails off below.

[via Jezebel]

Special Production of ‘Cats’ to Feature 3,000 Performers

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I hope you’ve all upped your stock in pancake makeup and yak fur, because there are some people in England who have completely lost their damn minds. Stagecoach Theatre Arts, a U.K.-based part-time theater arts school with locations and programs across the globe, is celebrating its twenty-fifth anniversary with a production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats. In an attempt to make an already bad idea even weirder, the people in charge of the production are going to stuff as many damn people dressed as cats onto one stage as possible.

According to Playbill, the production, taking place on March 24 at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham,  will be the largest staging of Cats. Well, no duh.

Thousands of performers, ages 7-18, from Stagecoach schools nationally and internationally will take part in the event.

The main cast will comprise 50 specially selected dancers and 500 singers in a grand choir from 13 Stagecoach schools. An additional 2,500 young performers from 47 schools throughout the U.K., Malta, Germany and Ireland have been allocated a selection of the Cats score "to bring their own individual creative dances to life within the vast arena," according to press notes. These students will be supported by a virtual choir of international students from Stagecoach schools in Canada, Germany, Gibraltar, Ireland, South Africa, Spain and the U.S., visible on large screens.

The orchestra will be led by conductor Paul Leddington Wright.

In a statement composer Andrew Lloyd Weber said, "I’m absolutely thrilled that so many young people will be able to take part in this very special performance of Cats. Happy 25th Birthday Stagecoach and thank you for giving your students the opportunity to perform the show in such a spectacular way."

Now, the first musical I ever saw was Cats, and it blew my mind, mostly because I was about twelve years old and I had never seen adults in spandex before, much less spandex-wearing adults bending and jumping all over a stage. Lots of camel toes and humps, is what I am saying, and it opened my eyes to things I wasn’t sure I wanted to see. So you can imagine why the thought of 3,000 children doing such a thing makes me uncomfy. On top of that nightmare parade, it’s Cats. Cats is terrible. Cats is a mess. Cats is hilariously, ridiculously stupid. And that’s when adults perform in it.

Basically, this is too many jellicles for one place. 

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Cats With Bad Attitudes Now Grumpier Because of Cute Cat With Eyebrows

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I can imagine the Grumpy Cat isn’t too pleased today now that there’s another feline star on the internet breaking the heart of any dummy with WiFi. Meet Sam. He’s a cat. He has what appear to be eyebrows. Sam, you dumb, cat, you’re not supposed to have eyebrows! Eyebrows are for people! Ugh, when will cats ever learn? Well, I suppose we, as a human race, should keep taking pictures of them when they resemble us. And then sell them! Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to the pound because I’d much rather monetize my cat pictures than blog about them. [via Gawker]

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New Zealand Man Out to Make Internet’s Job Harder

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In a world where natural resources are scarce, ideas are few, and there is generally very little to be gained, the currency of our times has become the cat video. Just kidding, it’s money. It’s still money. Unless you live in a place or situation where the barter system is used. In which case you could trade for cat videos. 

Per usual, a cat-related story has been all over the Internet this week, but it’s not Tard the Grumpy Cat on the Today Show or Colonel Meow looking angry. Economist Gareth Morgan prompted a cat-aclysmic reaction when he suggested a ban on domestic cats in feline-crazy New Zealand (Kiwis own more than 1.4 million cats, which doesn’t seem like a lot but keep in mind New Zealand is a pretty small country and only has about 4 1/2 million people). His website, Cats To Go, suggests in a series of adorable but very serious infographics, that cats are a detriment to local ecosystems and the furry killing machines have been responsible for threatening already-fragile indigenous bird species. The site leads with the phrase, "That little ball of fluff you own is a natural born killer," which sounds an awful lot like something from The Oatmeal

Now, seeing as I’m not a cat owner (and generally particularly indifferent about cats, but you do you), not a resident of New Zealand (although apparently it’s lovely) and not a conservation expert (got nothin’), I’m not in a position to tell you how to live your lives or to get rid of your cats. And the combination of general global apathy w/r/t sustainability issues and the fact that people love their pets and will have difficulty telling their kids that they can’t get a new cat to replace the gaping, Fluffy-shaped hole that remains makes this measure seemed unrealistic, well-intentioned as it is.

But think of the cultural implications if this were ever to become a thing. With a decrease in the domestic cat population, think of what we could accomplish. The tired, antiquated and pretty sexist "crazy cat lady" trope would slowly fade away. I’m not saying we should get rid of cats, or that you should part with your beloved Kitty Sanchez or Catticus Finch, but maybe we could scale back on the cultural cat-worship a little teensy bit. And, you know, also care about invasive bird species. Although let’s be real, if cats didn’t occupy this space in pop culture, and Internet culture in particular, some other animal would. Corgis, probably. 

Here’s an NBC News report about Morgan, in which you’ll get a quick overview of the debate, some points and counterpoints and lots of images of little four-legged fascists skulking around looking for prey.

The ‘American Psycho’ Musical Is Happening Whether You Like It or Not

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Duncan Sheik, the ’90s singer-songwriter ("Barely Breathing," in case you needed a reminder or, more likely, a name attached to that song), won two Tony Awards for his work on the sexy German schoolchildren musical Spring Awakening a few years ago. And he’s trying his hand at musical theater once again, this time with an adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis’s modern classic, American Psycho. The musical will hit the London stage later this year, and hopefully will get a run on Broadway.

Gothamist talked to Sheik about his work on the show, which sounds a lot more promising than one might imagine:

The music is all electronic. You know, the conception of it, at least on my end… I kind of feel like, you have Broadway musicals, and you have the sound of the Broadway musicial—Les MisPhantom of the OperaCats—and then in some way there was a transition away from that. Spring Awakening [which Sheik scored and won a Tony for] happened, you had American IdiotNext To NormalMemphis… this whole set of things using more contemporary, guitar-oriented rock music. For me, I feel that’s a shark that’s been jumped. So the idea of doing a score that’s completely electronic, that’s exciting to me. You’re being progressive about the form, you know, rather than saying, ‘Well people like listening to rock music now in the theater.’ That’s not so interesting to me… it’s really important that you do new stuff. I want to attempt to do stuff that’s moving it forward. As opposed to repeating a successful formula.

At first, I thought, "Oh, no one should ever compare their musical theater ambitions to those who were responsible for Cats, Phantom, or Memphis, but I have to say: an electronic music-focused musical sounds pretty awesome, especially given the subject matter of the show. Oh, and don’t worry; Sheik promises a little Huey Lewis and Phil Collins in there, too. 

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Ryan Murphy Hints at Third Season of ‘American Horror Story’

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I gave up on American Horror Story: Asylum around the time that Anne Frank showed up, because when Anne Frank shows up to the party, it’s time for me to leave. I think that’s a pretty fair mantra! But, since I loved the first season of the show, and since the next season will have a completely new cast and story line, I figured there’s still a chance that it’s worth watching. And luckily, Jessica Lange will return to her new BFF Ryan Murphy’s crazy-ass fever nightmare. 

Murphy is slated to sit down with the show’s writers to come up with a third season story line next week, but he’s already dropped some hints about what’s up there in that brain of his:

Season three is “really about female power,” Murphy said, adding that the enigmatic figure next year (i.e. Rubber Man and Bloody Face) will also be female. So far, Lange, Sarah Paulson, and Evan Peters have all signed to return. “I got Jessica to do it because I did everything she asked … and I also told her she will have hair, makeup, and the best designer gowns ever made. She’s going to play a real glamour cat sort of lady.” Murphy said he’s currently reaching out to several actors who Lange asked to work with, but wouldn’t say who they are. “She’s sort of become an uncredited producer now,” he said.

A glamour cat? Like Grizabella?! I’m sold! Also, I’m crossing my fingers pretty hard that Lange wants to reunite with her Crimes of the Heart sisters, Diane Keaton and Sissy Spacek. Hell, Ryan Murphy should just hire me to cast this show already. I’ll pretend that I don’t hate The New Normal, I promise! 

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