Sunday, August 05, 2012

The cutest mayor ever

It turns out Japan is not the only country with cats in positions of power. Meet Stubbs. He's a cat. He's also the mayor of Talkeetna, Alaska (pop. 875).

Mayor Stubbs recently celebrated 15 years in office. To mark the occasion, CBC Radio interviewed Lauri Stec, manager of Nagley's General Store, which doubles as Stubbs' mayoral office. In the interview, Lauri admits Stubbs isn't exactly the hardest working man in Alaska. He usually spends his office hours in front of the computer, napping on top of the keyboard.

When he's not sleeping on the job, Mayor Stubbs likes to walk around town, keeping the rodent population at bay and having his belly rubbed by constituents. He heads to the bar at 4 p.m. everyday to drink water (out of a wine glass, no less) laced with catnip. Lauri describes Stubbs as an "all around good guy," who is a good listener, non-judgemental and doesn't raise taxes.

Fifteen years ago, so the story goes, the citizens of Talkeetna didn't like the list of human candidates for mayor so they decided to elect Stubbs as a write-in candidate. At the time, Stubbs was a kitten who had been newly adopted by Lauri. He was a fixture at her store and popular with local residents.

Technically, the town is a "historical district," which means Stubbs is more of a symbolic mayor than a real mayor. And, of course, there's a human council that steps in when actual decisions need to be made. But Stubbs has become a tourist attraction, drawing in visitors (and dollars) to the town.

Mayor Stubbs has become something of a celebrity, and is more popular in the polls than some of his human counterparts. He has 25,000 subscribers on Facebook, which is almost 10 times the amount of people (2,610, to be exact) following Toronto Mayor Rob Ford.


Thursday, August 02, 2012

In Bruges

In Bruges. Really. Walking down narrow cobblestone streets. Drinking Belgian beer. Trying to figure out if this fairytale town is heaven, hell or something in between.

When I first saw In Bruges, I thought . . . where the hell is Bruges? Now I know. It's a city in northwest Belgium. I also now know that the city as it looks in the movie is exactly how it looks in real life -- like a perfect 15th-century film set. And, unlike Colin Farrell's character, who characterizes hell as an eternity spent in Bruges, I found the place quite charming.