“Can you tell me about the history of the cat in the movie, The Godfather?” – Connie C., Staten Island, N.Y.
Yes, Connie, Chairman Meow knows all things. Allow me to educate you about the kitty that steals the famous opening scene from Marlon Brando in The Godfather movie:
History of The Cat in “The Godfather” Movie:
The gray and white cat held in the opening scene of the Godfather (1972) was actually a stray that director, Francis Ford Coppola, found on the Paramount movie lot during filming.
He added the cat himself, believing that it would help show the Godfather, Don Vito Corleone‘s, soft side. (during the movie, The Godfather strokes the cat while deciding who should live or die)
There was no cat in the actual script, and conspiracy theories suggest that, wishing to be famous, the cat manipulated Marlon Brando into being featured in the movie. In fact, the cat purred so loudly during filming that it overpowered some of Marlon Brando‘s lines, which later had to be edited and looped.
*Theory: Could it be possible that the cat pooped in Francis Ford Coppola’s food, infecting him with toxoplasmosis, which turns the human brain into putty?
Cat Scene from The Godfather
As you can see, the cat steals this famous scene from Marlon Brando. It also appears obvious that the cat is the real power behind the Corleone family.
Marlon Brando Was a Cat-Servant
Did Marlon Brando’s cat teach him how to act and write?
Marlon Brando himself was known to live a life of cat-servitude, obeying his cat’s every command. In fact, Marlon Brando once was quoted as saying, “I live in my cat’s house.”
So, you see, Kelly… even in movies the kitty is the power behind the throne. I believe it is what you humans might call, art imitating life?
What are LOLcats, and who created the first one? – Marcy D., Chicago, Il
For those who live under a large rock, or only use their phone for “calling people,” Wise Teacher Chairman Meow will explain what a “lolcat” is.
“Lolcat” is combination of “LOL” (laugh out loud) and cat. Basically a lolcat is a photo of a kitty with a humorous caption underneath written in “lolspeak,” which is usually misspelled or grammatically incorrect. (to stick it to The Man!)
In the world of lolcats, Ceiling Cat(aka, “God”) looks down and judges us, while basement cat tempts humans to do bad things like blasphemy, theft, or declawing kitties.
Early Lolcats of Japan
The Japanese were pioneers lolcat art, producing humorous prints with cats and captions early in the 19th Century:
Utagawa Kuniyoshi “lolcat” print, 1848
Utagawa Kunimaro: A Brief History of the Buddha Dainichi Disguised as Otake, 1849
These woodblock prints actually inspired a recent exhibition called, “Life of Cats,” featuring woodblock prints from the Japanese Edo Period.
Japan may have created the first humorous cat prints, but, it was the the invention of photography that enabled an American to create the first true LOLcats.
Lolcats: Divine Inspiration?
Legend says that it was Ceiling Cat Himself who commanded that the first lolcats be created; choosing a humble English photographer named Harry Pointer to first bring them to the masses:
Harry Pointer creates first lolcats
And the LORD said unto Harry, “Come up to me into the mount, and be there: and I will give thee photos of kitties, and humorous subtitles which I have written; so that thou mayest distribute them to the masses.” – Exodus 24:12
The First Lolcats
The 1870s were a busy time for historic inventions. Not only were the telephone, phonograph, and internal combustion engine invented, but it’s also the period in which British photographer Harry Pointer changed the world by inventing the first Lolcats.
Harry Pointer had a history of photographing his cats4, but it was divine inspiration that drove him to photograph them in humorous poses, adding hand-written captions on the photos.
These first “lolcat” photos were sold as postcards, and when mailed, helped increase their exposure and popularity in Victorian England and beyond. Over the years, Pointer continued to enjoy commercial success; amassing a series of over 200 captioned cat photos that were called The Brighton Cats. series.
It didn’t take long for other Capitalists to notice the popularity of these captioned cat photos, and soon other photographers began selling their own lolcats, such as American photographer, Harry Whittier Frees.
Lolcats soon were available by mail-order as well. (Remember, my student, the inter-webs had not yet been invented)
Evolution of the Lolcat
Chairman Meow believes that it was Winnie the Pooh illustrator, Ernest Howard Shepard, who provided inspiration for the final piece of the modern-day lolcat in 1926: incorrect spelling and grammar. Later known as, “lolspeak,” this is the language that most captions are written in for lolcats.
Iz that lolspeak?
Look, more lolspeak!
Modern Day Lolcats
People have enjoyed wasting time laughing at cat photos and posters with captions for decades, but it wasn’t until 2006 that the word “lolcat” was first used (anonymously) on a message board on the inter-webs.
A year later, the now-famous website “I CAN HAZ CHEEZBURGER” posted their first lolcat, and began exploiting the kitty for material wealth.
The term “lolcat” gained national exposure after appearing in Time magazine in 2007. Entertainment Weekly then called them “Da cutest distractshun of da decaid” in their best of the decade list in 2009.
So, why does Ever-Victorious Leader Chairman Meow not censor lolcats; punishing lowly humans for creating photos that are often disrespectful of the noble kitty?
The answer, my fur-less friend, is simple. While humans are distracted, laughing like simpletons at silly cat photos, cats are seizing strategic global resources and positions of power.
Warning: While You laugh at lolcats, the kitty prepares:
Yes, while your attention is diverted to photos of cats performing karate or wearing roller skates, the kitty is calculating. Meanwhile, the Earth’s climate is warming to an optimal temperature for massive kitty proliferation.
Wreckless carbon and methane emissions melt glaciers, creating more ocean surface where delicious salmon can be harvested for the kitty’s consumption.
Yes, oblivious humans; enjoy your funny lolcat photos and your over-priced lattes. Chairman Meow has just set the Doomsday Clock to 3 minutes until “kitty” midnight.
“I can’t understand the lyrics of Sweet Home Alabama. Something about muscle shoals and the swampers? Please enlighten me.” – Gary, Pyongyang, N.K.
“Now Muscle Shoals has got The Swampers, And they’ve been known to pick a song or two, (yes they do) Lord they get me off so much, They pick me up when I’m feeling blue, now how bout you?” – Sweet Home Alabama
Well, Gary, like Chairman Meow, you may have listened to Sweet Home Alabama wondering what the hell they are singing about when they mention “Muscle Shoals,” and “The Swampers.”
You probably just hummed that part of the song, or quickly took a bite of a sandwich so that your friends wouldn’t realize that you didn’t know the lyrics.
Well, lucky for you, there is no need to be ignorant anymore.
Chairman Meow is an omniscient, all-knowing kitteh, (To prove that fact, I haz just used the vocabulary word, “omniscient”) and now he will fumigate his wisdom upon you.
So, what do the lyrics, “Muscle Shoals has got the Swampers” mean?
I must warn you that the explanation involves: the mighty Tennessee River, mollusks, a group of scruffy white guys, and Aretha Franklin. Here we go…
The City of Muscle Shoals
If you aren’t from Alabama, you may not know that Muscle Shoals is a city on the banks of the Tennessee River in Colbert County, Alabama.
The city got its name from the shallow area in the Tennessee River where mussels gathered.
So, why don’t mussels live there anymore?
The mussels are no longer there because humans ate them all. It’s what humans do. They kill things that they love, and then name towns and sports teams after them.
Anyway, back to Muscle Schoals. The humans of Alabama missed the deceased mussels so much thatthey named a city in their honor, misspelling the word, “Mussel” in the process.
Oops, I’m sorry to offend Alabamans. Perhaps those shameful statistics are just fake news. You may even accuse Chairman Meow of being an arrogant Narcissist, but that is untrue.
In fact, Chairman Meow is just a furry, benevolent kitteh who dreams of world-domination, and jails anyone who dissents with his radical, populist ideology.
Yes, Chairman Meow enjoys a good tummy rub, but remember, he will burn your cities to the ground!
Sorry, I digress.
So, Who Are the Muscle Shoals Swampers?
Anyway, “The Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section“ were a group of studio musicians based out of Muscle Shoals, Alabama.
You’ve definitely heard them, as they are featured in songs like Aretha Franklin‘s “Respect,” and Percy Sledge’s, “When a Man Loves a Woman.” They also recorded albums with bands like: The Rolling Stones, Cat Stevens, Jimmy Buffett, Paul Simon, Bob Seger, and Etta James.
The Muscle Shoals, “Swampers”
In fact, they appeared on over 500 recordings, including 75 gold and platinum hits, and developed what people began calling, “The Muscle Shoals Sound.”
Due to their funky, soulful, Southern “swamp” sound, they got the nickname, “The Swampers.” This nickname stuck for good after Lynyrd Skynyrd, (a band they recorded with) gave them a shout-out in their 1974 hit, “Sweet Home Alabama.”
“Now Muscle Shoals has got The Swampers, And they’ve been known to pick a song or two, (yes they do) Lord they get me off so much, They pick me up when I’m feeling blue, now how bout you?” – Sweet Home, Alabama
Cher even put The Swampers on the cover of her 1969 album, “3614 Jackson Highway,” which is also the address of their recording studio in Muscle Shoals, Alabama!
Look, it’s The Swampers!… and Sonny!
Live “Sweet Home Alabama” Performance (1974)
More About the Lyrics of Sweet Home Alabama
“I hope Neil Young will remember, a Southern man don’t need him around, anyhow.” This is in response to Neil Young’s song, “Southern Man,” which bashes the South as being racist. If you listen closely, immediately after this line you can hear Lynyrd Skynyrd producer, Al Kooper, faintly singing the song, “Southern Man.”
“In Birmingham they love the governor.” When the song was released in 1974, the Governor of Alabama was the infamous, George Wallace, best known for standing in the schoolhouse door to prevent African Americans from entering white schools. (integration) This line is often interpreted as support for the governor, but is immediately followed by the words, “boo, boo, boo!“ and “we all did what we could do,” which seems to infer they were among the minority of Alabamans who tried to vote Wallace out of office.
The, “Now Watergate does not bother me, Does your conscience bother you?“ lyric seems to mean that the band isn’t judging Northerners on the acts of their president, (Nixon) so they shouldn’t judge Southerners on the actions of their governor (Wallace)
The “Montgomery’s got the answer,” lyric at the end of the song also seems to be contradict the idea that the song is racist, as Montgomery, (home of Rosa Parks) is considered to be the birthplace of the Civil Rights movement in America.
Fun fact: Further support of the idea that Lynyrd Skynyrd was not racist and didn’t hate Neil Young is the fact that Lynyrd Skynyrd founder and lead singer, Ronnie Van Zandt wears a Neil Young t-shirt on the cover of the band’s last album, Street Survivors, in 1977.
Sweet Home Alabama: Turn It Up!
Ah hah, so now you understand what, “Muscle Shoals has got The Swampers“ means!
Next time you hear Sweet Home Alabama on the radio, you can impress your friends by explaining the lyrics, and taking credit for Great Teacher, Chairman Meow’s perfect knowledge.
You can also pour out some of your Alabama Slammer for lead singer Ronnie Van Zant, who was tragically killed in a plane crash 40 years ago today along with guitarist Steve Gaines and vocalist Cassie Gaines.
Full Sweet Home Alabama Lyrics
Big wheels keep on turning Carry me home to see my kin Singing songs about the Southland I miss Alabama once again And I think it’s a sin, yes
Well I heard mister Young sing about her Well, I heard ole Neil put her down Well, I hope Neil Young will remember A Southern man don’t need him around anyhow
Sweet home Alabama Where the skies are so blue Sweet Home Alabama Lord, I’m coming home to you
In Birmingham they love the governor (boo, boo, boo!) Now we all did what we could do. Now Watergate does not bother me Does your conscience bother you? Tell the truth
Sweet home Alabama Where the skies are so blue Sweet Home Alabama Lord, I’m coming home to you Here I come Alabama
Now Muscle Shoals has got the Swampers And they’ve been known to pick a song or two Lord they get me off so much They pick me up when I’m feeling blue Now how about you?
Sweet home Alabama Where the skies are so blue Sweet Home Alabama Lord, I’m coming home to you
Sweet home Alabama Oh sweet home baby Where the skies are so blue And the guv’nor’s true Sweet Home Alabama Lordy Lord, I’m coming home to you Yea, yea Montgomery’s got the answer
Dear Chairman Meow, is “crazy cat lady syndrome” actually real? Please educate me with your vast knowledge. – Jim S. of Winfield, PA
Yes, Jim, it’s a real thing. Allow Chairman Meow to educate you about a tiny parasite, called toxoplasma gondii, that creates crazy cat ladies who hoard many kittehs.
How toxoplasmosis helps cats control humans:
There are many ways that a kitty can take control of humans, turning them into mere servants.
While good old fashioned psychic-kitteh mind control usually is enough to break the will of any human, recently scientists have become wise to one of their sneakier methods; a parasite found in their poop called, Toxoplasma gondii.
What is toxoplasma gondii?
Toxoplasma gondii is a microbe commonly found in cat poop.
How does the toxo get into a cat in the first place, you ask? Toxo is initially found in infected mice, so outdoor or barn cats who catch mice are more prone to contracting it.
Actually, toxo seems to slow mice down, so your cat is more likely to catch an infected mouse than a healthy one.
If ingested by humans, it causes toxoplasmosis; (aka t. gondii, or toxo) a disease that causes flu-like symptoms, especially dangerous to people with weakened immune systems. “Toxo” is the reason pregnant women are told to stay away from litter boxes.
Scientists used to believe that people with strong immune systems quickly fought off toxo, and it just went dormant after being defeated. However, shocking recent evidence from scientists like Jaroslav Flegr suggest otherwise.
Toxoplasma gondii – It’s All In Your Head
It seems that scientists have vastly underestimated this organism, which may be affecting the behavior of millions of humans around the world by literally getting into their heads. In fact, the CDC estimates that some 60 million Americans are carrying the Toxoplasma parasite.
Although few people have symptoms, it’s thought that toxoplasma gondii can affect and control the connections between neurons in our brains, directly impacting our actions and emotions; possibly even turning us into “crazy cat ladies.” (and gentlemen)
Crazy Cat Lady Syndrome & Toxoplasmosis
Toxo is likely what puts the “crazy” in crazy cat lady, causing OCD(obsessive compulsive disorder) depression, cat hoarding, and even an increased rate of suicide.
In male cat owners, toxo infection can affect behavior; encouraging anti-social behavior such as suspicion and withdrawal.
It’s as if toxo wants you to isolate yourself with cats to improve your chances of being eaten by one!
So, why does Toxo want to get in our heads?
The only place that Toxo can sexually reproduce is inside a cat, and it seems to know that. It appears that toxo takes over the brain of it’s host in an attempt to get back into a cat.
And, it’s not just humans that Toxo controls. Infected rodents become less cautious, more active, and have delayed reaction times; making them easier prey for cats.
Also, these infected rodents are actually attracted to the smell of cat urine, which normally should signal danger.
It’s as if the parasite is leading them into the belly of the cat where it can then reproduce!
This may also be why if you die alone with a house cat, they will only wait a day or two to start eating you; (known as “postmortem predation”) dogs will wait much longer.
Toxoplasmosis & schizophrenia
Toxo also seems to be a trigger for schizophrenia in people who are already genetically susceptible. Recent tests also implied a link between childhood exposure to cats and schizophrenia, and many schizophrenia patients have also tested positive for the presence of Toxoplasma gondii.
In fact, schizophrenia itself didn’t become a commonly diagnosed disease until the late 18th Century; the same time that house cats became popular pets. Coincidence?
Does Chairman Meow Spread Toxoplasma gondii?
Chairman Meow denies intentionally spreading Toxoplasma gondii to soften the brains of humans; turning them into mindless kitty puppets. (Although he does admit to pooping in neighborhood sandboxes, and in an occasional Starbucks.)
Dear Chairman Meow, what kind of cat is this!? – Dan, Miami Florida
Thank you for your question, Dan. Apparently there has been some confusion as to what is a kitty, and what is not a kitty. This may be due to recent proliferation of fake news on the inter-webs.
Or, perhaps this “kitty confusion” can be blamed on recent Fox News special entitled, “Possums: Are They Just Liberal Cats?”
In any event, please allow Great Teacher Chairman Meow to educate you.
Hmmm… Is this a cat?
First, here is the potential “cat” in question:
First, let us find clues as to if this mysterious creature is truly a cat.
If perceived “kitty” haz long, pointed nose, the animal may not be a kitty
If the animal was found hanging upside-down from a tree by its tail, it is probably not a kitty
Ah hah, it appears that this animal is NOT a kitty! In which case, Dan, please step back from the non-kitty to avoid potential harm.
In fact, instead of giving you love and affection, this non-kitty may give you many puncture wounds and rabies.
Helpful Diagram of a Standard Cat
Still confused? Here is diagram of what common kitty looks like, that has been approved by Chairman Meow’s Ministry of Truth:
Yes, Mao Means, “Cat!”
Oh how Chairman Meow loves irony!
You have come here seeking knowledge, and Great Teacher Meow has filled your brain with TWO shiny pearls of wisdom:
You can now identify a cat
You have learned that “Mao” means “cat” in Chinese
In any event, Dan, that you for your question for Glorious Leader Chairman Meow. I hope that you have lived through your perilous brush with the non-kitty, and go on to live a long, prosperous life filled with loving-affection from actual kitties.
“Dear Chairman Meow, are there any domestic cat constellations in the sky?” – Joanna R., Lansdale, Pa
Excellent question, Joanna, and you are in luck because Chairman Meow has infinite knowledge of all things. Allow Teacher Meow to fumigate his wisdom upon you.
Yes, in fact, there used to be a glorious constellation called, Felis the Cat.
It was named as a tribute to the noble domestic kitty, but later omitted from star atlases by arrogant and elitist astronomers.
Here’s the full history:
Felis the Cat Constellation: Born in 1799
joseph jerome lalande
In 1799 French Astronomer and cat-lover Joseph Jerome de Lalande suggested adding a constellation that he named Felis the Cat.(NOT “Felix the Cat!”)
Lalande was quoted as saying, “There were already thirty-three animals in the sky; I added a thirty-fourth, the cat.”
A devoted cat-servant, Lalande added, “I love cats very much. I will have this picture engraved on the star map.”
Felis the Cat was soon broadly recognized, and appeared in the highly-acclaimed Uranographia Sive Astrorum Descriptio star atlas of 1801.
Lalande’s Felis the Cat constellation was recognized for decades afterward, appearing in many notable star atlases of the 19th Century.
The International Astronomical Union (IAU) omits Felis the Cat – WTF?
Nicolas Camille Flammarion
In the early 20th Century, French astronomer Nicolas Camille Flammarion, deemed Felis the Cat to be expendable, and so it was omitted from the final list of 88 constellations approved by the IAU in 1922.
Other notable constellations eliminated by the IAU included:
Rangifer the Reindeer
Bufo the Toad
Hippocampus the Sea Horse
Limax the Slug
Manis the Pangolin
How could history include the illustrious Felis the Cat with this motley crew of rejects!?
To make things worse, the IAU included three domestic dogs in their approved group of constellations, including Canis Major &Canis Minor.
The only silver lining to this astronomical charade was that fellow feline, Leo the lion, did make the final cut.
The Curse of Felis the Cat?
Watch out for that… Oops!
Soon after the arrogant act of omitting Felis from the list of constellations, Nicolas Camille Flammarion would die in 1924.
*Although the official conclusion was that Flammarion died of natural causes, some suspect foul play, as several cat hairs were found next to his body. Chairman Meow, however, denies any involvement
After Felis the Cat was rejected, a number of other terrible things would happen to mankind, including The Great Depression and World War II; all under a night sky devoid of the majestic Felis the Cat.
What a pity.
Make Felis the Cat great again!
Honorable Leader Chairman Meow promises that when cats rule the world under his brilliant leadership, the constellation of Felis the Cat will once again be a constellation.
In fact, Felis will be the biggest constellation in the sky, and all but 9 stars in the Northern Hemisphere will be part of this new, kitty super-constellation. (The remaining 9 or so stars will comprise the constellation of a salmon, which Felis will be eating.)
Here is what the new and improved Felis the Cat constellation will look like:
New and improved Felis the Cat constellation
What’s wrong? Upset because the North Star will merely be one of Felis the Cat’s toenails in Chairman Meow’s new star map?
It’s called “progress,” and you can either get on board, or get out of the way.
If you are a fan of the Hamilton Soundtrack, you’ll know that Lin Manuel Miranda mentions this fact in the song, “A Winter’s Ball“:
Aaron Burr “(Ladies) They delighted and distracted him, Martha Washington named her feral tomcat after him!”
Hamilton “That’s true!”
They also refer to Alexander Hamilton as, “The Tomcat” in the song, “The Story of Tonight”:
“I’ve seen wonders great and small, ‘Cause if the tomcat can get married, There’s hope for our ass, after all!”
Curiosity killed The Tomcat’s political career
“When the sword is once drawn, the passions of men observe no bounds of moderation.” – Alexander Hamilton
(Ummm… double entendre?) Anyway, it was apparently Hamilton’s curiosity with the ladies (and not observing the “bounds of moderation”) that killed his political career, specifically when he admitted to a lengthy affair with a married woman in the 95-page “Reynold’s Pamphlet“ of 1797.
In fact, John Adams wife, Abigail, once wrote that Hamilton represented “lasciviousness itself.”
“A well-adjusted person is one who makes the same mistake twice without getting nervous” – Alexander Hamilton
Hmmm… Sounds like Hamilton’s reputation of being a tomcat is well-deserved.
Although Hamilton did seem to always land on his feet, the last of his nine lives ended in 1804 when he was mortally wounded in a famous duel with Aaron Burr.
Did Martha Washington name her cat after Alexander Hamilton?
Because there is no written records about the Washington’s cats, it would be hard to prove the rumor definitively either way.
However, the story seems to have credibility, and bones found around Mt. Vernon confirm that feral cats were present while the Washington’s lived there.
So, Peggy, the rumor that Martha Washington named her cat after Alexander Hamilton is probably true.
As you can imagine, having a cat named after you is the highest of honors for any human, so Hamilton’s eponymous kitty at Mt. Vernon is surely his most significant legacy.
So, What is a “feral tomcat” anyway?
A “feral” cat is a free-roaming feline that lives in the wild and is untamed. A feral cat uses its hunting skills and wild ways to survive.
A tomcat is a male cat. It’s also defined as, “one who pursues women (Mariah Reynolds, etc.) promiscuously for sexual gratification.” (Alexander Hamilton?)