Tag: Buddy

Buddy Joins World In Mourning His Friend Queen Elizabeth II

Buddy the Cat joined the world on Thursday in expressing sadness at the passing of his dear friend, Queen Elizabeth II.

The dashing feline and the beloved monarch struck up a friendship during the latter years of her reign and saw their bond strengthen during trying times, including the COVID-19 pandemic, the Great Turkey Shortage of 2021 and the death of the queen’s long time consort, Prince Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh.

Although surrounded by friends and family, the queen became fond of Buddy for his unwavering support, his sense of humor and their shared love of turkey.

“The queen advised Buddy to keep a stiff upper lip during the Great Turkey Shortage of 2021, and Buddy was able to return the favor by being there for Her Majesty during the passing of Prince Phillip,” said royal observer Samantha Martin Bainbridge, the author of Flummery Tarts and Framboises St George: The Royal Family’s Favorite Desserts.

The queen took to referring to her favorite feline as “my dearest Bud-Bud,” though in keeping with tradition and ever the gentlecat, Buddy always referred to the queen as “Your Meowjesty.”

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Their unusual friendship made headlines in the British press, especially since feline companionship was unusual for a monarch known for her love of Corgis.

“The Queen loved her Corgis until the very end, but dogs are so very extra when it comes to expressing their love,” said Gideon Brackenthwaite, a royal observer and author of Henry VIII: The Kingly Pimp Hand. “Felines, like the British aristocracy, are much more reserved with their affection and shun garish displays of familiarity. For his part, the future Earl never name-dropped her Majesty or bragged about his friendship with her, a fact that the Crown deeply appreciated. You’d never find his future lordship’s name in the tabloids, heavens forbid.”

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Lord Buddy, Earl of Budderset. Credit: Buckingham Palace

Indeed, Queen Elizabeth II took the unprecedented step of knighting Buddy the Cat in 2021, naming him Sir Buddy, KBE of Buddington at that year’s investiture ceremony.

It was the first time the Crown had bestowed an honor on a feline since Able Seaman Simon, a ship’s cat on the HMS Amethyst who survived injuries he suffered during the Yangzte Incident of 1949.

Sir Buddy’s elevation was a poignant moment, and cameras captured Kate, Dutchess of Cambridge, dabbing gently at tears with her handkerchief as Buddy kneeled for his knighting.

Only a few short months later, Sir Buddy was elevated to Lord Buddy, Earl of Budderset, a meteoric rise for anyone in royal favor, let alone a cat.

During their friendship, Lord Buddy telephoned the Queen at least once per week and holidayed with her at Balmoral Castle in Scotland.

In a charming anecdote relayed by Prince William, the Queen and Earl Buddy shared a bowl of popcorn while watching Braveheart and laughing uproariously at the Australian Mel Gibson’s Scottish accent. The friends also enjoyed playing bridge.

“Like the rest of the world, I am deeply saddened by the passing of my dear friend and beloved Queen, Elizabeth. I’ll treasure the memories of our adventures together, especially the time we had a little too much to drink and woke the kitchen staff at 3 am to make us an epic turkey feast,” Lord Buddy wrote in a statement. “There will never be another monarch like Her Majesty, so beloved across the world with such an enduring and fruitful reign. All of us at Budderset House are in mourning, and feel for our friends at Buckingham Palace.”

Buckingham Buddy

The earl was photographed on Friday in his Rolls Royce, eating a large meal of roasted turkey en route to London. At one point the Earl’s Rolls pulled even with the same model occupied by Princess Anne. The two exchanged pleasantries, and Lord Buddy was seen passing a bottle of Grey Poupon to the grieving royal between cars before the light turned green again.

“Such a simple gesture says volumes about His Lordship’s standing with the royal family,” said Edith Hershey, author of Direct From The Sauce: From Bechamel to Velouté, The Royal Family’s Most Beloved Condiments. “The Princess Royal would not accept Grey Poupon from just anyone. By passing the mustard, the earl was conveying his condolences and signaling his availability as a shoulder to cry on.”

SpaceCat, Baby Bud and Mister Meowster: New from Buddy Comics!

The Buddy Comics empire expands with two new titles and a new installment of The Adventures of Baby Bud.

We meet Mister Meowster, the most legendary feline investigator of his neighborhood, who’s called upon to use his Sherlockian skills in search of missing mice. In 11-Dimensional Hyperspace, SpaceCat tunnels to the next iteration of reality in her starship. Finally, Baby Buddy contends with a dark chapter from the past, when there was a shortage of the very stuff of life.

All covers created via natural language AI and pixlr.

Mister Meowster is the greatest detective for at least three blocks.

SpaceCat tunnels through 11-dimensional hyperspace to reach the next stack in the braneworld! M-theory enthusiasts and cat lovers won’t be able to put this down!

Before the Great Turkey Shortage of 2021, there was the Great Turkey Shortage of 2015. In Chapter 6, we visit that grim chapter in in Buddy’s life, when he was forced to eat chicken.

If My Cat Had His Own Comic Book Empire, This Is What It’d Look Like

Budster Comics™

TMT: Too Much Turkey chronicles Chubby Buddy as he eats his way out of Turkopolis, the City of Delicious Turkey.

Buddy the Tiger: Meowscular Hunter follows a fully grown Buddy as he takes his rightful place as king of the jungle and doesn’t have to wait for stupid humans to feed him.

Meowstar 2177 centers on the exploits of Space Admiral Pâtéstalker and the fabled starship UCN Nap Enforcer.

Join Bud on his very first dangerous mission in Turkopolis, back when he was just a tiny kitten.

I created all the artwork in this post using a natural language processing AI and pixlr. 

Every Attempt To Translate Meows Has Failed. Why?

New York Times science writer Emily Anthes details her experience with MeowTalk in a new story, and has more or less come to the same conclusions I did when I wrote about the app last year — it recognizes the obvious, like purring, but adds to confusion over other vocalizations.

Back in January of 2021, in MeowTalk Says Buddy Is A Very Loving Cat, I wrote about using MeowTalk to analyze the vocalizations Bud makes when he wants a door opened. After all, that should be a pretty basic task for an app that exists to translate meows: Cats ask for things, or demand them, some would say.

But instead of “Open the door!”, “I want to be near you!”, “Human, I need something!” or even “Obey me, human!”, it told me Bud was serenading me as he pawed and tapped his claws on the door: “I’m looking for love!”, “My love, come find me!”, “I love you!”, “Love me!”, “I’m in love!”

According to MeowTalk, my cat was apparently the author of that scene in Say Anything when John Cusack held up a boombox outside of Ione Skye’s bedroom window.

John Cusack and Buddy the Cat
Buddy the Director.

Anthes had a similar experience:

“At times, I found MeowTalk’s grab bag of conversational translations disturbing. At one point, Momo sounded like a college acquaintance responding to a text: ‘Just chillin’!’ In another, he became a Victorian heroine: ‘My love, I’m here!’ (This encouraged my fiancé to start addressing the cat as ‘my love,’ which was also unsettling.) One afternoon, I picked Momo up off the ground, and when she meowed, I looked at my phone, ‘Hey honey, let’s go somewhere private.’ !”

On the opposite side of the emotional spectrum, MeowTalk took Buddy’s conversation with me about a climbing spot for an argument that nearly came to blows.

“Something made me upset!” Buddy was saying, per MeowTalk. “I’m angry! Give me time to calm down! I am very upset! I am going to fight! It’s on now! Bring it!”

In reality the little dude wanted to jump on the TV stand. Because he’s a serial swiper who loves his gravity experiments, the TV stand is one of like three places he knows he shouldn’t go, which is exactly why he wants to go there. He’s got free rein literally everywhere else.

If MeowTalk had translated “But I really want to!” or something more vague, like “Come on!” or “Please?”, that would be a good indication it’s working as intended. The app should be able to distinguish between pleading, or even arguing, and the kind of freaked-out, hair-on-edge, arched-back kind of vocalizations a cat makes when it’s ready to throw down.

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Accurate translations of Buddy’s meows.

Still, I was optimistic. Here’s what I wrote about MeowTalk last January:

“In some respects it reminds me of Waze, the irreplaceable map and real-time route app famous for saving time and eliminating frustration. I was one of the first to download the app when it launched and found it useless, but when I tried it again a few months later, it steered me past traffic jams and got me to my destination with no fuss.

What was the difference? Few people were using it in those first few days, but as the user base expanded, so did its usefulness.

Like Waze, MeowTalk’s value is in its users, and the data it collects from us. The more cats it hears, the better it’ll become at translating them. If enough of us give it an honest shot, it just may turn out to be the feline equivalent of a universal translator.”

There are also indications we may be looking at things — or hearing them — the “wrong” way. Anthes spoke to Susanne Schötz, a phonetician at Lund University in Sweden, who pointed out the inflection of a feline vocalization carries nuances. In other words, it’s not just the particular sound a cat makes, it’s the way that sound varies tonally.

“They tend to use different kinds of melodies in their meows when they’re trying to point to different things,” said Schötz, who is co-author of an upcoming study on cat vocalizations.

After a few months in which I forgot about MeowTalk, I was dismayed to open the app to find ads wedged between translation attempts, and prompts that asked me to buy the full version to enable MeowTalk to translate certain things.

The developers need to generate revenue, so I don’t begrudge them that. But I think it’s counterproductive to put features behind paywalls when an application like this depends so heavily on people using it and feeding it data.

To use the Waze analogy again, would the app have become popular if it remained the way it was in those first few days after it launched? At the time, I was lucky to see indications that more than a handful of people were using it, even in the New York City area. The app told me nothing useful about real-time traffic conditions.

These days it’s astounding how much real-time traffic information the app receives and processes, routing drivers handily around traffic jams, construction sites and other conditions that might add minutes or even hours to some trips. You can be sure that when you hear a chime and Waze wants to redirect you, other Waze users are transmitting data about a crash or other traffic impediment in your path.

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“I’m thinking deep thoughts about turkey.”

MeowTalk needs more data to be successful, especially since — unlike Waze — it depends on data-hungry machine learning algorithms to parse the sounds it records. Like people, machine learning algorithms have to “practice” to get better, and for a machine, “practice” means hearing hundreds of thousands or millions of meows, chirps, trills, yowls, hisses and purrs from as many cats as possible.

That’s why I’m still optimistic. Machine learning has produced algorithms that can identify human faces and even invent them. It’s produced software that can write prose, navigate roads, translate the text of dead languages and even rule out theories about enduring mysteries like the Voynich Manuscript.

In each of those cases there were innovators, but raw data was at the heart of what they accomplished. If MeowTalk or another company can find a way to feed its algorithms enough data, we may yet figure our furry little friends out — or at least know what they want for dinner.

Sunday Cats: Brave Woman Rescues Kitten From Sewer Pipe, Fortnite Copies Buddy

When volunteers in Elkhart, Indiana, went to trap a mom and her kittens near an industrial site, one of the babies panicked and ran straight into a hole, taking a tumble into a drainage pipe beneath.

The rescuers from a non-profit TNR group called Catsnip didn’t give up on the four-week-old baby even after finding her proved to be much more difficult than they imagined. They called off the search in Elkhart — about 160 miles north of Indianapolis — the first night when it was too dark to keep working. They dropped food for the scared fluffball, whom they could hear but still could not locate in the dark, tight subterranean space.

The next morning they were back at it, trying to literally flush the kitten out before a volunteer named Ashley descended via a manhole 75 feet from the spot where the kitten had fallen in.

The entire saga took about 48 hours and hinged on Ashley who, because of her small size, was able to squeeze into a pipe and crawl 30 feet to the terrified baby cat — then had to crawl out backwards the way she came while cradling the little one.

Mom and kittens
Piper was reunited with her mom and littermates after the rescue. Credit: Catsnip

It was worth it for the volunteers, who named the kitten Piper in honor of her adventure, gave her fluids and formula from a dropper, then reunited her with her mom. Read about the whole encounter at The Dodo. (And serious props to Ashley! Just thinking about what she had to do makes me shudder. Cats may love tight spaces, but most humans do not.)

Hey! That’s Buddy’s MO!

As gamers who generally prefer more depth, the Buddies never got on the Fortnite bandwagon, so we weren’t aware that Fortnite has a character named Meowscles until encountering this article from Cracked.

Fortnite's Meowscles
Meowscles has a Buddesian physique. Credit: Epic Games

As you can see, Meowscles was clearly inspired by Bud, who is known for his incredibly ripped physique and totally isn’t a bit chubby. (“That’s all muscle, not fat!” Buddy insists.)

Fortnite is a battle royale-style game in which up to 100 players compete against each other in live matches. The game is free-to-play, with developer Epic Games making its money by selling cosmetic items as microtransactions. Meowscles is one of about 1,400 different “outfits” players can purchase to customize their characters.

The game has been a monumental success for Epic, earning billions and leading the company to launch the Epic Games Store, the first serious competitor to Steam, which has been the dominant platform for PC gamers for years. Epic has been so flush with cash that’s it’s been giving away free games every week to lure customers away from Steam, even upping the freebies to a new game every day during the holidays.

Cat and Owner Costume Contest?!?

In Massachusetts, the Cat Fancier’s Association held its ninth annual cat and owner costume contest on Sunday. Unfortunately, the only story we can find about the event comes from the local public radio affiliate, so there’s not much in terms of photos.

If you were going to enter such a contest with your cat, what costumes would you and your fluffy overlord wear?

I’m thinking maybe I’d be a Targaryen with Bud as a baby dragon perched on my shoulder in honor of Game of Thrones/House of the Dragon. But that might offend little dude, who tends to think of himself as a hulking tiger. Perhaps the easier and more realistic “costume” would be Bud dressed as a king, snug in his own little carrier designed to look like a royal palanquin, with me carrying the palanquin as his dutiful servant. Thus, art imitates life.

Cat and Owner Costume Contest
“I put on my wizard hat and robe…” Credit: WBZ