American Teenage Rock & Roll Machine
My friend Kristine surprised me with tickets to see The Donnas Tuesday night at Bogart's. She'd won a 97X contest that included backstage passes. The backstage passes turned into before-the-show passes, but I was unable to go and decided to catch up with Kristine later at the show.
It was a bit of a bummer really, but then again I've met famous people before and it's usually awkward. What do you say? They know nothing about you, and you'll probably never see them again in your life. That situation always leaves me tongue-tied.
I arrived at Bogart's when an opening band was still playing. The first person I spotted was an ex and we awkwardly hugged. We stood watching the band for a moment.
"I really like these guys," he said. "The '80s are back!"
"Thank God," I replied, not really sure what that meant. The ex evaporated quickly, almost as quickly as the '80s had.
Kristine quickly spotted me and gave me cash for a drink. Her generosity was due in part to $100 she'd also won in the contest. What luck. The luckiest people are those who have lucky friends. When I returned with my drink, I noticed Kristine was talking to her ex-boyfriend, Joe. I knew trouble was brewing when he traipsed over to another girl.
Kristine immediately disappeared and I was left alone. Pretty soon, a guy approached me. Some people, unlike myself, aren't tongue-tied around people they don't know.
"Do you have a light?" he asked.
Smelling a come-on, I hesitantly loaned him my lighter.
"I only asked because I saw you smoking," he said, lighting his smoke. But if that were true, he'd have just walked away afterwards.
"So, are you a UC student?" he asked.
"I'm a UC graduate," I said, laughing to myself. He was obviously a lot younger than me.
"So what do you want to be when you grow up?" he asked.
"I am what I want to be when I grow up," I replied. I was old enough to be, well, his older sister. The guy kept prying and, right when I started wondering where Kristine went, I felt hands on my back.
"Let's take a walk," she said.
I thanked her for rescuing me and asked if she was OK.
"Yeah, but who's the dumb girl Joe's with?" Oh, boy.
Once we got upstairs, the view improved in more ways than one. I've always disliked Bogart's setup. If you're not a 6-footer and don't feel like being smooshed next to the stage, you're out of luck. The audience was made up primarily of 6-foot 40-year-old men and 14-year-old girls who were shorter than me. But tonight, the show was merely a backdrop for our own set. After a quick tour, finding no seats, we headed back downstairs and stood in the doorway to the club.
"Kristine!" came a familiar voice from nearby. Ah, it was the globe-trotting girl who'd spilled my beer at Plush. She hugged both of us and told me how much she loved me. I was wondering how much BS a person could swallow in one night. She was waiting on some "bloke," she said. My beer was nearly empty, which meant my tolerance was lowering. We decided to get back to the show and meet the girl later upstairs.
After a few minutes of standing, my high-heeled boots were making my back hurt, so I leaned against a wall with Kristine. But UC boy had found me again and started asking more questions. Kristine was ready to rescue me -- and herself -- again. Her ex was looming nearby with his implant-of-choice for the evening.
"Your friend is cool," UC boy said as we trotted off. "She stood out in a crowd," or something like that.
The Donnas began their show with the usual rock clichés like "We came to rock Cincinnati," etc. They had a cool stage set with two huge blackboards with chalk drawings of bunnies and stuff. There was a problem with the sound, though, as the bass amp was turned up so loud the singer was straining to be heard. We went back upstairs so we would melt back into the crowd and were quickly followed by the girl who spills things and her "bloke." Apparently he'd flown her to Florida the week before and, after she returned from Las Vegas or wherever, he'd fly her back to Florida. In case anyone forgot, she reminded us she'd once lived in France with her ex-fiance (a girl). She seemed to really want to nail home her openness towards sex.
To change the subject, I asked Kristine what it was like to meet the band and she said they were very "giggly." Each of the contest winners were given photos of the band members for signing. A friend of ours, who'd also won the contest, tried to skip in line to meet the lead singer. He was turned away when he told one of the girls, "You're only the drummer."
Luckily, Kristine and I both had work in the morning, so we left soon thereafter.
On Saturday, we met up again for a shopping trip at Urban Outfitters, in celebration of my newfound fortune (aka tax refund). We took a break from an exhausting shopping workout to have lunch at Inn the Wood. When we were in college, we'd go there to study for classes (aka gossip and commiserate about boyfriends).
Kristine asked for our old table, the two-seater by the window.
We'd each had the best Valentine's Day in our combined history of dating and took turns dishing while we waited for our food.
My Valentine's Day began at work with a delivery of a gorgeous bouquet of flowers and continued with a fabulous dinner at Tink's in Clifton, where the service was as good as the food. Kristine's date started with a play, which her boyfriend innocently chose without knowing the content.
"It ended up being about date rape," she said, nearly making me shoot soda from my nose. They had a great dinner nonetheless at a Korean restaurant in Covington. Her boyfriend invited my man and me to double there sometime.
I imagined Kristine and I sitting at that same table years ago when we were struggling college students with erratic relationships. We now had fairly stable and loving ones with incredible guys. One thing hadn't changed -- we were still able to make each other spit out our drinks.
-- Ilsa Venturini
I knew it would be a tough weekend to get through with the hullabaloo over Valentine's Day. By the way, when did Valentine's Day get elevated to the holiday level of Easter and Halloween? Am I missing something besides a Valentine? Oh well, this too shall pass. Thank goodness President's Day in this country is a solemn, low-key occasion where no partner is required to present himself with flowers and chocolate.
Little did I know that surviving Feb. 14 with no visit from Cupid would be easy compared to surviving the worst weather in the Tristate in 15 years. I can't remember the weather from the last 15 years much less my relatives' birthdays, but I'll take the Doppler man's word for it. All I know is that the county I live in said it was a Level 3 Snow Emergency -- and that translates to "Stay home."
This weekend it's the tape that scrolls across the bottom of the television screen that determines my fate. There's nowhere to go even if I wanted to brave the elements. The snow and ice have everyone housebound, and I'm pretty sure the weather personnel in this town are downright excited. This is their Daytona 500, Super Bowl and getting the casting call from Survivor all rolled into one.
Speaking of Survivor, when should I expect the phone to ring? Yes, I succumbed to the local excitement and made the trip to Newport on the Levee Monday morning for the local casting call. Why not see what all the fuss is about? I can't say I'm a big fan of the show, but I've wanted to vote a committee member or two off once or twice. Plus getting out of Dodge is always attractive to this outdoorsy girl.
I figured arriving early was a good bet at being in good position in the line experts predicted to be around 800 to 1,000 strong. I headed out in nasty weather and arrived at approximately 8:45 a.m. I was given a number and settled in with my stash of dry mini-wheats, two morning newspapers, a bottle of water, a book and magazines. It was going to be a long wait until the cameras got rolling at noon and I was prepared. Hell, I thought I was a survivor until I started looking around and realized I was dog meat in comparison to my neighbors. These people were serious.
The time in front of the camera was to be no longer than 2 minutes, but I had no idea what exactly that would consist of. However, it appeared I was the only one who planned on ad-libbing my audition. One guy was going over his lines with the girl sitting next to him. Several people had props in odd-looking carrying cases. I, being curious by nature and intimidated immediately, made it my duty to inquire as to the contents when the line started moving around 11.
"What may I ask is in that blue suitcase, sir?" I demurely asked.
My line buddies and I guessed an accordion but were amused when he told us it was a snare drum. Great idea, and so was the little alligator in the cat-carrying case ahead of him. Another clever potential castmate directly behind me had a Styrofoam cooler usually reserved for bait but this Monday morning it was his minnows and night crawlers he planned on consuming for lunch in front of the camera. Wow. He had his beret tilted on his head and his well-worn Bible under his arm as we moved up in line, getting closer and closer to the actual official line director.
There were three tables taking applications -- which, may I say, were extensive questionnaires into the "who," "why" and "how" part of each potential Survivor participant. I managed to come up with my name and address along with three items I'd take if removed to a remote location. It was more difficult to come up with a clever and honest response to what I'd do for $1 million and then what I wouldn't do for $1 million. I assured the two fun gals in line in front of me that I've done a lot for a whole lot less than $1 million and it didn't involve Demi Moore or Robert Redford.
We all had a good giggle over the questions and our own motivations for auditioning. It amazed me how much fun we seemed to be having and the general feeling of camaraderie we'd amassed after a couple of hours in line. The atmosphere was incredibly positive and upbeat.
They explained the next step was a four-day stint of psychological and medical testing before they narrowed the field of potential castaways to send to a hotel for 10 days of isolation in L.A. I was amazed that No. 1, they knew the procedure and No. 2, the women in line with strollers actually thought they'd be able to swing the time away from the babes in arms. They must really be motivated or a true Survivor wannabe is all I could figure. Heck, I had to ask how long the show lasted and was surprised to learn the actual number was 39 days. Maybe a month away from the kids is the biggest motivation of all.
Suddenly I found myself whisked to a table and in front of a large camera with a board sporting a number. I have little recollection of what I said and whether it made sense or not, but I did enjoy watching the guy behind me eat his night crawlers. I was out the door and in my car by 1:30 p.m., starved and searching for the nearest drive-through.
Some survivor I'd make, but let me tell you it was worth giving it a whirl. I loved the people I met and admire their passion. It warms my soul to think I might know the person who gets the call and makes it on Survivor this summer.
Right about now my soul and everything else is cold. I'm on house arrest due to snow and suffering from cabin fever big time. The Survivor casting call is a good but distant memory.
You see, I just found my yardstick and I have snowdrifts measuring 15 inches. The household is out of milk and ice cream. The novelty of lying around has worn off, so I'm donning a pair of ski pants to prepare to shovel the walk and driveway. Then it's Tribal Council, when I'm going to secretly vote my dog Maggie off the island. She's making me crazy barking at the cat and is absolutely no help in team challenges.
-- Wendy Robinson
Fine Arts Taste Test
For the last 10 years I've either been out of town or playing in an Ultimate Frisbee tournament at Joyce Park the weekend of the Fine Arts Fund Sampler. This year I was determined to participate in the Sampler activities.
I was hoping to start the day with face painting at Playhouse in the Park, but Cathy was having no part of it. Unlike me, she doesn't believe in the philosophy "You can be young once but immature forever." She suggested we start the day at First Watch downtown.
First Watch is very unlike the greasy spoons I normally go to for my weekend brunches. It was missing the inherent charm of Sugar n' Spice, especially when it came to the servers. Plus, a lot of the customers seemed to get dressed up for brunch. Normally when I go for brunch I'm wearing the same clothes I went out in the night before. I did enjoy my breakfast skillet however, and Cathy was very pleased with her breakfast crêpe.
Our first Sampler activity was going to the Weston Art Gallery. Neither Cathy nor I had ever been there, and we were surprised to find out it was across the street from First Watch and in the basement of the Aronoff Center.
Lost and Found: Mixed Media Installation by Cal Kowal and Anita Douthat was my favorite of the two exhibits showing at the gallery. We spent about half an hour looking over the large prints and photo images, not just admiring the work but also trying to figure out how they were made. The other exhibit was a series of paintings of patio chairs that took me about two minutes to look over.
Our next stop was the School of Creative and Performing Arts to watch the Next Generation Dance Company perform scenes from Jungle Book. There were more children under the age of 10 than adults at this show. Most of the kids there were lucky enough to have gone to the Playhouse in the Park to get their face painted.
The dance company had a couple of solo ballet performances start the show. It was the closest I've ever been to the stage of a ballet performance. I was stunned to see how physically demanding ballet is. Next up was a solo interpretive dance.
There was a collective gasp from the young male teenagers in the audience when the 15-year-old dancer first came on the stage wearing a very shear leotard. As we were leaving the school, I mentioned to Cathy that I might actually be maturing. When the girl came out on stage, all I could think about were her abs. She was ripped. They were the type of abs you normally see on the cover of fitness magazines. I kept thinking about all of the sit-ups she must have to do to get her stomach to look like that.
-- R.L. Newman
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