I'm thankful it's Thanksgiving week. I'm a traditionalist at heart (a liberal in my brain), and I love family holidays.
Holidays are the height pencil marks on the door frame of life. They measure how far you've come year to year and yet how slowly things really change.
I'm thankful the Cincinnati Entertainment Awards are done. I can't wait to get started on next year's.
It's always a lot of work to organize and mount the CEAs, something that has to occur outside of the normal day-to-day routine of running CityBeat. And we do two of them -- the theater version in August and the music program last weekend. (See our report on the Nov. 18 event here.)
This past week was brutal, especially because I was covering for A&E Editor Jason Gargano, who was out of town, while handling my usual behind-the-scenes CEA details. I'm as crispy as a barbecued turkey right now.
But the appeal of being among hundreds of local musicians, friends and fans is undeniable. All it takes is one enthusiastic live performance or one sincere acceptance speech to make you realize all the work and worry is worthwhile.
I'm thankful CityBeat has remained dedicated to the CEAs for 11 years. I've never played a musical instrument or written a song, though I've always secretly wanted to, so I don't know the joy of playing music or the thrill of performing in front of people at a club.
But I kind of understand the urge to be creative, to go against the grain and to try to make a living at something you love. And I sort of know what it's like to attempt all of this in the public eye while your cynical peers do their best to downplay your accomplishments.
So we formed the CEAs in 1997 to bring a little awards pomp and circumstance to the local music and theater scenes and to give musicians, actors and others a chance to dress up and experience their own Grammys or Tonys. I'm thankful they (you) have responded and helped these programs grow each year.
We never meant to turn locally-produced art into a competition, but an awards show without winners is like kindergarten, where everyone gets a gold star just for showing up. The cliches are true: It is an honor to be nominated, and winning is fun.
I'm thankful the local elections are over, but I'm not so thankful that all nine Cincinnati City Council members were re-elected. I certainly was hoping for some newcomers to win, particularly several really smart progressive candidates.
I've said before that I feel Cincinnati is on the verge of breaking out of its post-2001 doldrums and progress could depend on the emergence of a leader who's willing to tackle the Big Picture issues holding us down. On the surface, returning every current council member for two more years doesn't seem to be the breakthrough we need.
I'm thankful Hamilton County voters turned down Issue 27, the sales tax increase that would have funded a new jail and related programs. I have a feeling the county commissioners will devise a better and more thoughtful plan in the coming months.
I'm thankful city voters elected three new Cincinnati Board of Education members. Like the city in general, the school system seems to be on the verge of turning things around and will be selecting a new superintendent soon. I like having new blood involved in the hiring process.
I'm not thankful the Cincinnati Public Schools tax levy was voted down. I'm not sure how the system can continue improving while facing a huge deficit. Maybe this new blood will figure it out.
I'm thankful that my college alma mater's football team -- for the very first time in the 30 years I've been rooting for them -- is having a championship-caliber season. Until now, the University of Missouri has been known for birthing the world's first journalism school and for killing college sports fans.
In the 30 years since I was a freshman at Mizzou, the football team hasn't won a conference championship or played in a New Year's Day bowl game, neither the men's nor women's basketball teams have been in the Final Four and the baseball team hasn't participated in the College World Series. That's kind of hard to do for a major conference Division I college that's the dominant school in its state.
Some day I'll make a list of the other likewise pathetic college sports programs, and I bet it'll be a short one.
Anyway, Missouri plays Kansas Saturday night only two wins away from being in the national championship game. I feel stupid even typing those words.
The situation is close to what local college football fans experienced a year ago when heated rivals Ohio State and Michigan played in the season's final game, with the winner going on to the national championship. Except this is Missouri and Kansas, who will be playing for the 117th consecutive year (longest rivalry west of the Mississippi River) and the first time with this much at stake.
Mizzou fans and KU fans hate each other as much as Ohio State and Michigan fans do, but we're usually playing to see who avoids last place. This is uncharted territory.
But I'm thankful to finally get a chance to feel what this kind of excitement and stomach-wrenching turmoil is all about. I like it.
I'm thankful for the opportunity to have CityBeat be a part of your life. I thank everyone who contributes to what CityBeat is and does.
I'm thankful for Kathy, who helps me learn, grow and enjoy; for Julianne, my favorite daughter; and for Jack, who reminds me that wrestling on the floor with him and his sister is the most important thing I do each day.
I'm thankful for my parents, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles and cousins, who instilled in me a love of family holidays and traditions. I'm thankful for my nieces and nephews and the opportunity to teach them about family.
I'm thankful I have this space to say what's on my mind. But also I'm thankful to finally take a break.
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