FRIDAY 22EATS: GREATER CINCINNATI RESTAURANT WEEK Be a culinary tourist in your own city with CityBeat’s inaugural Greater Cincinnati Restaurant Week. Do you like eating? Do you want to try some multi-course meals for cheap? Restaurants throughout the Tristate will be offering $35 three-course meals to delight the palate and impress your date. Participating eateries include Harvest Bistro & Wine Bar, Pompilios, Kaze, The Palace, Parkers Blue Ash Tavern and more. Check out menus and more info online. Through April 24. $35 plus tax and gratuities. Find participating restaurants at greatercincinnatirestaurantweek.com.
Remember to wear green or you’ll get pinched at the 50th annual Saint Patrick’s Day Parade. Smale Riverfront Park might be the prime viewing location to see the parade this year as it follows a new route along the river from Paul Brown Stadium to Freedom Way and Rosa Parks Street. Rain or shine, the McGing Irish Dancers will step dance their way down the parade route, along with floats, bagpipers, the Ancient Order of Hibernians and more. This year’s honorary grand marshals are Chris and Janeen from WGRR’s “Married with Microphones.” Noon Saturday. Free. Parade leaves from Mehring Way and Central Avenue, Downtown, cincystpatsparade.com.
EVENT: SAINT PATRICK'S DAY CELEBRATION ON FOUNTAIN SQUAREJoin Cincinnati’s Irish (and non-Irish) brethren on the Square for a Saint Patrick’s Day celebration. The all-day party features live Celtic Rock from the likes of The Kells and Fintan, Guinness on tap and themed merchandise for those who forget to wear green. Have a beer and practice your Irish step on the Square. 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday. Free. Fountain Square, Fifth and Vine streets, Downtown, myfountainsquare.com.
FRIDAYATTRACTIONS: THE ART OF THE BRICKMillions of LEGO bricks are taking over the Cincinnati Museum Center. Anticipated exhibit The Art of the Brick features more than 100 artworks created by contemporary artist Nathan Sawaya using nothing other than LEGOs. Explore life-size human figures, a 20-foot-long T-Rex skeleton and replicated famous paintings, including “Starry Night” and “Girl with a Pearl Earring,” plus familiar sculptures like “The Thinker” and the Sphinx. Sawaya has also created a Cincinnati-themed piece that will be revealed when the exhibit debuts. Create your own LEGO masterpieces in the interactive Brickopolis, and don’t miss special themed days revolving around Star Wars, dinosaurs, superheroes and more. Through May 1. $19.50 adults; $12.50 children 12 and under. Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal, 1301 Western Ave., Queensgate, 513-287-7000, cincymuseum.org.
HALLOWEEN: NEWPORT IS HAUNTED TOURCovers a wide range of grisly topics from murder and suicide to decapitation. Follow your guide by lantern light as he or she regales you with tales of haunts including Bobby Mackey’s Music World. 7 and 9 p.m. Saturday. $20. Tours begin at 18 E. Fifth St., Newport, Ky., americanlegacytours.com.
Contrary to earlier reports, the Wet Hot prequel series premieres this week. Tune in to discover what Coop, Katie, Andy, Beth, Gene and the rest of the Camp Firewood crew were up to before that final day of camp depicted in the 2001 original flick. Premieres on Netflix.
ONSTAGE: CLYBOURNE PARKCommunity theaters often produce tried-and-true shows that keep people laughing and happy. But Sunset Players isn’t afraid to make its audiences think, and that’s what will be happening over the next two weeks with a production of Bruce Norris’ Pulitzer Prize-winning script, set in a Chicago neighborhood in 1959 and 2009. In the first act, white community leaders try to prevent the sale of a home to a black family. In Act II, the same house is the focus as the African-American neighborhood struggles to hold its own against redevelopment. It’s an ambitious show that’s important in today’s world. Through July 25. $12-$14. The Arts at Dunham Center, 1945 Dunham Way, Western Hills, 513-588-4988, sunsetplayers.org.
EVENT: DOUBLE TALKLittle-known fact: Northern Kentucky is home to the Vent Haven Museum, the world’s only museum dedicated to the art of ventriloquism. And Sunday marks their annual fundraiser show, Double Talk, a fun and raucous afternoon of comedy, audience participation and ventriloquist dolls (don’t call them puppets). Featuring performances from around the country, including the No. 1 female ventriloquist in the U.S., Lynn Trefzger; young up-and-comer Peter Dzubay from Connecticut; and Tristate favorite Denny Baker. 3 p.m. Sunday. $20 advance; $25 door. Notre Dame Academy Performing Arts Center, 1699 Hilton Drive, Park Hills, Ky. ventshow.com.
Discuss black photography at the CAM with a screening of THROUGH A LENS DARKLY
The Cincinnati Art Museum is partnering with the Cincinnati Film Society to present a free screening of Through a Lens Darkly: Black Photographers and the Emergence of a People. Director Thomas Allen Harris and producer Deborah Willis will be present for a discussion. The film looks at how African-American communities have historically used the camera as a tool for social change, and it has a Cincinnati connection in its inclusion of photographer James Presley Ball, who worked here for 25 years before and after the Civil War. FotoFocus is a sponsor of the event. 7 p.m. Friday. Free. Cincinnati Art Museum, 953 Eden Park Drive, Mount Adams, cincinnatiartmuseum.org.
Laugh and learn some calorie control with MANDY LEVY at KAZE OTR
“Buy a thing of arugula from the store. Dump it in a bowl.” This is the beginning of Mandy Levy’s Buffauxlo Chicken Salad recipe from her new book Calorie Accounting: The Foolproof Diet-by-Numbers Plan for a Skinnier New You, a humorous and self-deprecating weight-loss book that feels more like your best friend telling you about her new meal plan than your typical holier-than-thou diet tome. Levy consciously nudges the concept toward something more lighthearted. “It takes itself so seriously, the dieting world,” she says. “And I just wanted everybody to lighten up.” CityBeat recently caught up with Levy via phone as she was driving from Austin to Phoenix on her current Calorie Accountingbook tour, which makes two stops in the Queen City this week. Read the interview here. Mandy Levy’s Calorie Accounting tour makes a stop 5:30 p.m. Friday at Kaze in Over-the-Rhine and 2 p.m. Sunday at Barnes & Noble West Chester. More info: calorieaccounting.com.
Head to Fountain Square for MidPoint Indie Summer and BRONCHO
Over the past five years, Broncho has ridden its love of ’70s Punk and ’80s Indie Rock to a press kit full of praise and the kind of fairly high-profile song placements that couldn’t help but broaden its loyal fan base. Broncho’s fortunes have continued to rise, with the first album’s “Try Me Out Sometime” being used in a commercial for HBO’s Now streaming service and “Class Historian” from the new album finding its way into an ad for Kate Hudson’s Fabletic lifestyle brand. The largely enthusiastic reviews for Just Enough Hip to Be Woman have paid dividends in the form of high-visibility bookings, including slots at Austin, Texas’ Fun Fun Fun Fest and the ever-popular Bonnaroo Festival, which the band plays the day before its stop at Fountain Square for the free MidPoint Indie Summer series. So the Broncho members may not be completely well-rested when they blow into town, but they’ll be well-primed. Read more here. Broncho performs Friday with Kopecky, Coconut Milk and Near Earth Objects. Concert begins 7 p.m.; Broncho takes the stage at 9 p.m. Fountain Square, 520 Vine Street, Downtown, myfountainsquare.com.
THE HAPPY MALADIES celebrate a record release at Woodward Theater
Even a cursory listen to The Happy Maladies’ slim but impressive Chamber Folk-meets-Indie-in-Jazztown catalog reveals a certain thoughtful deliberation. But the question of sonic intent regarding the imminent new self-titled album by the Cincinnati band sparks an answer nearly as contemplative as the group’s sound. From their 2008 start, The Happy Maladies have exhibited a casual intensity, giving the sense that the quartet creates from a combination of diligence and offhandedness. While their Indie Rock approach to structured music is largely intact, the new album’s process was slightly different. Read an interview with the band here. The Happy Maladies play Woodward Theater on Friday. Tickets/more info: woodwardtheater.com.
SATURDAYSee SPOON and the Antlers at Madison Theater Spoon is the most reliable band on the planet, each album a slight variation on frontman Britt Daniel’s long-running love of terse, sharp-edged Rock & Roll. The Austin, Texas outfit’s eighth album, 2014’s They Want My Soul, is more of the same, each song a deceptively simple mix of interlocking parts: insistent beats from essential drummer Jim Eno, angular guitar riffs, driving bass lines, a sprinkling of keyboards and other subtle additives and Daniel’s vocals, which are as up-front as ever. Spoon with The Antlers perform Saturday at Madison Theater. Tickets/more info: madisontheateronline.com.
Get really excited to taste all the wine at the URBAN WINE FESTIVAL
Wine isn’t for snobs. At least that’s the concept behind Over-the-Rhine’s first Urban Wine Festival, which is presented by 1215 Wine Bar & Coffee Lab and takes place in their adjacent parking lot. Whether your palate prefers red or rosé, all styles of vino will be represented via 24 selections from local distributors. In addition to a public tasting, the fest includes live music, food and a seminar featuring regional winemaking professionals. Noon-10 p.m. Saturday; tastings start at 2 p.m. $6 glass pours; $48 to taste all 24. 1215 Wine Bar & Coffee Lab, 1215 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, 1215vine.com/urban-wine-festival.
Celebrate sustainability, local music and good food and beer at SAYLER PARK SUSTAINS
In an effort to foster neighborhood engagement and educate residents in sustainable earth-first practices, Sayler Park Sustains features plenty of food trucks, local beer, vendors and raffles, along with music by The Tillers, Mamadrones and The Part-Time Gentlemen. Anticipate music demos with the Rabbit Hash String Band, as well as info on soil composting, how to green your home and DIY personal care products. 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday. Free. Nelson Sayler Memorial Park, 6600 Gracely Drive, Sayler Park, saylerparksustains.org.
Get sweaty at FLOGGING MOLLY and GOGOL BORDELLO
If you want to work up a sweat to some high-energy music this summer concert season, your best bet is coming up this weekend as the Flogging Molly/Gogol Bordello tour steamrolls into town. Flogging Molly is known for its adrenalized twist on traditional Irish music, which is delivered with Mack truck-force, while Gogol Bordello calls its genre stew “Gypsy Punk” and pumps it out with equal aplomb and blood, sweat and tears. Adding even more red-hot spice to the concert mix is opening act Mariachi El Bronx, the popular, jet-fueled side project of Hardcore crew The Bronx, which uses (as the name suggests) Mariachi music as a jumping off point. 7 p.m. Saturday. $36-$48.50. PNC Pavilion, 6295 Kellogg Ave., California, riverbend.org.
Relish in the history of America's pastime with a VINTAGE BASEBALL TOURNAMENT at Heritage Village
Take a time machine into America’s favorite pastime with the Vintage Base Ball Tournament, in which players face off in the diamond as if it were 1869, the year baseball’s first professional team — the Cincinnati Reds — formed. Whether you’re rooting for the Cincinnati Red Stockings or the Cincinnati Buckeyes, you can watch the ballists hit the horsehide in historically accurate uniforms as they follow older customs and speak in vintage discourse — strikers, hurlers, judges, scouts and all. Spectators are encouraged to dress up. Starts 10 a.m. Saturday. Free. Heritage Village Museum, 11450 Lebanon Road, heritagevillagecincinnati.org.
Laugh your ass off at Cincy Shakes' ONE MAN, TWO GUVNORS
Ready to laugh your ass off? Cincinnati Shakespeare Company has everyone doing just that with this contemporary version of Carlo Goldoni’s 1743 comic masterpiece, The Servant of Two Masters. Richard Bean’s update is a riot of mistaken identities, love triangles and live music. The story of an ambitious guy who over-promises and gets stuck between rival bosses was a 2011 hit in London and a Tony Award winner in New York. James Corden played the fast-talking schemer in both towns — before he was named host of The Late Late Show on CBS. This will be perfectly silly summer fare. Through July 5. $14-$36. 719 Race St., Downtown, 513-381-2273, cincyshakes.com.
SUNDAYCelebrate summer with a bowlful of tasty crustaceans at Washington Park's CLAMBAKE IN THE PARK Get your grub on, Louisiana style. This beach-themed party in the park will not only be serving up steamy bowlfuls of seafood goodness from Washington Platform but also features games and live music from Cajun rockers Robin Lacy & DeZydeco. For only $12, you can dig into a dish full of clams, shrimp, mussels and potatoes, along with corn on the cob and a dinner roll on the side. Other options are available, like steamed Maine lobster and chicken with waffle fries. Laissez les bon temps rouler! Noon-6 p.m. Free. Washington Park, 1230 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, washingtonpark.org.
Head to Horseshoe Casino for HOZIER with DAWES
Every now and then a musician with immense talent reaches the upper echelon of the Billboard charts. They don’t get there because they’re so hot or because they’re dating Diplo. They didn’t win a talent competition. They’re just truly gifted, have worked hard and made it. That is the story of Hozier. The Irish singer/songwriter came out of nowhere last year when his song, “Take Me To Church,” bombarded airwaves and started collecting awards. And, yes, by now we’re all pretty sick of it. But it’s hard to deny there’s talent there. You can hear it in the lyricism and imagery, the simple piano, that backing choir and, holy fuck, that voice. Yes, you’re tired of “Amen.” But bite your tongue. Hozier is changing the Pop world, and he’s bringing that sound to Cincinnati. Show up, clap and bask in the sound of the Delta. Hozier with Dawes plays Sunday at The Shoe at the Horseshoe Casino. Tickets/more info: caesars.com/horseshoe-cincinnati.
Bring your furry friend to SECOND SUNDAY ON MAIN
Everyone’s favorite Over-the-Rhine block party returns. Every second Sunday, Main Street turns into a themed fiesta with a beer garden, kids area, tons of vendors, food trucks, live music, specials at OTR shops and restaurants and, this month, doggie-friendly activities. It’s the “Dog Days” of summer Sunday, with a contest, dog parade and more, including live chef demos at Mr. Pitiful’s, an appearance by Clifford the Big Red Dog, adoptable dogs from Save the Animals, Cincinnati Pit Crew and VITAS Paw-Pals, and a grand opening celebration for GOODS, a thematic retail store celebrating “adventure.” Noon-5 p.m. Sunday. Free. Main Street between 12th and Liberty, Over-the-Rhine, secondsundayonmain.org.
Remember Leelah Alcorn with a COSPLAY FOR LEELAH ALCORN
The Diverse City Youth Chorus, Cincinnati Pride and the Cincinnati Comic Expo are bringing a one-day-only cosplay celebration (where you dress up as your favorite anime, video game, cartoon, comic book, etc. character) to Over-the-Rhine. Leelah Alcorn created her own avatar, Lazer Princess, and this safe setting will let everyone express their authentic selves. The day includes cosplay skits, karaoke, a costume contest and parade down Main Street, plus a handful of vendors. Noon-5 p.m. Sunday. $8; $10 day-of. Woodward Theater, 1404 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, facebook.com/diversecityyouthchorus.
Gorge on falafel at the MAHRAJAN LEBANESE FESTIVAL
The bounty of the Mediterranean comes to St. Anthony of Padua Church in Walnut Hills. Mahrajan features all sorts of Mediterranean eats, from fresh kibbee and hummus to grape leaves, falafel and baklava. Gorge yourself while belly dancers and Arabic bands take the stage, or watch a Middle Eastern Abaye fashion shows and modern Dabke folk dancing. Noon-8 p.m. Sunday. Free. St. Anthony of Padua Church, 2530 Victory Parkway, Walnut Hills, stanthonyofpaduachurch.com.
Close out the weekend with stand-up from JOHNNY BEEHNER
“I’ve been told that after two or three years of marriage, a lot of couples decide to have babies,” comedian Johnny Beehner told an audience on The Late Show with David Letterman. “My wife and I discussed this and we decided we are not ready for a baby, not even close. Incidentally, we do have a baby. We’re not ready for it, but we do have one. It’s one of those little girl ones.” In addition to appearing on the now-retired Letterman’s program, Beehner is a frequent guest on the Bob & Tom radio program. Thursday-Sunday. $8-$14. Go Bananas, 8410 Market Place Lane, Montgomery, gobananascomedy.com.
Lots of booze-based, full-weekend events going on. Bockfest and the Cincinnati International Wine Festival Grand Tastings both kick off tonight — one with a goat and the other with a far classier couple, Gina Gallo of the Gallo wine family and her husband Jean-Charles Boisset, of France's Boisset Family Estates winery.
Cincinnatians not only love their beer, they also love to celebrate that they love their beer. They even love to celebrate the celebration of loving their beer. Bockfest, the oldest and largest German-style bock beer festival in the United States, is back to host a weekend of beer drinking, live music, German games, dancing, a 5k run and tons of sausage. The party kicks off 6 p.m. Friday with a parade led by a majestic bock — or to the non-German speaker, a goat — and a Sausage Queen, starting at Arnold’s Bar & Grill and ending with a ceremonial keg blessing at the festival hub, Bockfest Hall (1619 Moore St., OTR). The festivities continue in tents and overflow into surrounding participating venues, none of which will have an admission fee. A free shuttle will run a continuous loop among Bockfest sites all weekend long, taking you quickly from one keg tapping to another.
Along the route will be a traditional fish fry at Old St. Mary’s in OTR and a “veenie” vegan sausage roast outside Park + Vine. The festivities continue into the outdoor tent venues, and overflow into surrounding participating venues, none of which will have an admission fee. A free shuttle bus will run a continuous loop among the Bockfest sites all weekend long, taking you quickly from one keg tapping to another. To get a taste of history to sample with your beer, there will be tours of the city’s historical breweries and underground tunnels, plus a Bockfest Heritage Series at the Woodward Theatre, with speakers, presentations, displays and stein collections. The third annual Bockfest 5k run takes off from Bockfest Hall 10 a.m. Saturday to benefit the Flying Pig Marathon charities — a great way to burn off all that beer. Grab a “Continental Bockfest” of Amish chicken, hot bacon sauerkraut slaw and plenty of German sausage noon-2 p.m. Sunday at Bockfest Hall, before dancing the night away at a traditional German folk dance … or at least until all the beer runs out. Friday-Sunday. Free. Full schedule of events at bockfest.com.
Event: Cincinnati International Wine Festival
If wine gets better with age, it makes sense that the Cincinnati International Wine Festival would too. Celebrating its 25th anniversary, the three-day fest is made up of winery dinners at local restaurants and grand tastings, plus a Saturday charity auction and luncheon at the Hall of Mirrors. The fest, which is a nonprofit, has raised more than $4.2 million for local charities during its lifetime. And if you can do good while imbibing samples of more than 800 wines from around the world, what’s better than that? Most winery dinners are sold out, but tickets are still available for Grand Tastings on Friday and Saturday, which allow expert and beginner oenophiles to taste rare, new and exciting wines while chatting with winemakers. Read our cheat-sheet for how to get your grape on here. 6:30-9 p.m. Friday; 2:30-4:30 p.m. and 6:30-9:30 p.m. Saturday. $65-$125. Duke Energy Convention Center, 525 Elm St., Downtown. winefestival.com.
Film: Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
For part two, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel continues along the same path, with a wistful, unfulfilled ache that lingers in each character, some moreso than others.
Douglas, having jettisoned Jean, pines for Evelyn. The two spend their days working through their retirement in Jaipur, and their evenings engaged in a most understated courtship. Norman, on the other hand, has settled down quite comfortably with Carol (Diana Hardcastle), a fellow pleasure-seeker, while Madge has a pair of eligible suitors hooked, but has an itch that neither is quite able to satisfactorily scratch for her.
Muriel and Sonny have the most obvious big-picture storyline, thanks to the burgeoning success of the first Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Sonny wants to expand but needs an infusion of cash and support, so the pair heads to the U.S. to negotiate with a branded chain headed by Ty Burley (the exquisitely bearded David Strathairn) who agrees, in principle, but sends an anonymous scout to check on things before making a final decision.
Of course, the secret inspector is slated to arrive just as Sonny’s in the final stages of planning and executing his wedding to Sunaina, so there are the typical examples of mistaken identity and botched plans that must occur along the way before the happy ending, right? Check.
The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is all about the innumerable chances life offers, and the fierce fighting spirit that burns in us no matter the age or situation in which we find ourselves. Intriguingly, that spirit, this time out, replaces the exotic location, and with new beacons (in the form of Richard Gere and a much better used Lillete Dubey as Sonny’s mother) presents a worthy second stay that could open the door for even more — not at all unwelcome — visits down the road. Opens wide Friday.
This weekend, Alcott and Phodographer hosts My Furry Valentine, one of the largest pet adoption events in Ohio. The event features more than 500 adoptable pets that include (but are not limited to) dogs, cats, rabbits, rats, mice, ferrets and amphibians from more than 40 different rescue and shelter groups from the Greater Cincinnati area. It’s sort of like speed dating except with animals, but way better. Every pet adopted from the main event will go home with a free goody bag, a collar and leash and the chance to win a pet-themed raffle basket.
My Furry Valentine is housed in a 50,000-square-foot West Chester warehouse — so wear comfortable shoes for lots of walking. More than 5,000 people are expected to show, so be prepared to park far and walk or take a shuttle to the event. (Shuttles will be continuously driving from the parking lots to the main event.)
The event features family-friendly games, face painting, balloon and caricature artists and live entertainment. Food and beverages will also be available for purchase. Parking and admission are free.
Who knows, maybe you could become Internet-famous by teaching your new pet how to use a toilet. The next Lil Bub could be out there, just waiting to be adopted by a loving family.
The event will take place this Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Flexi USA, 8494 Firebird Drive, West Chester.
A few weeks ago, I was headed downstairs with a basket of laundry and when I got to our kitchen doorway, I automatically raised my right leg to clear the baby gate. We haven't had any babies in the house since Clinton's first term, but we wound up using our long-neglected toddler barriers as a method to contain Bosco, our rambunctious Boston terrier.
Initially, we thought we'd use the gates for a few months while Bosco got acclimated to our spacious family room and kitchen, and to give our two cats — ancient 15-year-old Sushi and weeks-old and then just-acquired Pansy — a safe haven to escape from his brilliantly maniacal bursts of energy. Bosco would patrol the rooms like a perimeter guard, listening for the sound of one of the cats jumping over the gates, his signal to tear off in their general direction. This behavior inspired one of his many nicknames: Officer Bosco.
His relentless pursuit of the cats and his propensity to carry off, and sometimes chew on, various shoes left on the floor resulted in the gates becoming a semi-permanent feature of the downstairs blueprint. As I began to step over the gate, it dawned on me that this leg lift was pure muscle memory.
I didn't need to step over the gate because the gate wasn't there anymore. Bosco wasn't here anymore.
Bosco became a part of the family in 2004, a present for our daughter Isabelle's 10th birthday. My wife Melissa had been pressing me about the possibility of getting a dog to teach our ADHD-challenged daughter some responsibility, but I had been hesitant as I had just discovered a rather virulent allergy to certain hound breeds. Melissa's on-line research indicated that pugs, Yorkshire terriers, Welsh Corgis and Boston terriers were relatively non-allergenic so, with slight reservations on my part, she started the search for a dog.
After several missed opportunities and lack of follow-up response, Melissa found a Boston terrier breeder in Kentucky who had two males left from her last litter. She e-mailed Melissa photos of the pair, which she printed out and brought home for Isabelle to inspect. She gravitated toward one that was mismarked for a Boston; mostly white with brindle spots and black around the eyes that made me think of Jonny Quest's dog Bandit (not an actual mask but whatever). Isabelle noted that he looked like a scoop of chocolate chip ice cream (we all have different reference points), and so she chose him. At that point, Chip was probably the leading contender for the dog's name.
A check was mailed out and arrangements were made to meet at a rest stop halfway between our locations (several other prospective owners were meeting her at the same spot). Just before the big day, which by coincidence was Isabelle's actual birthday, Melissa and Isabelle sat down to compose a list of possible puppy names. Chip was high on the list, of course, as well as several others that seemed fairly promising, but when they presented me with the choices, I reacted to the very first thing Melissa had written down: Bosco.
For Melissa, it was simply a riff on the fact that he was a Boston, and maybe it was a touchstone left over from our childhood days (Bosco was a chocolate syrup back in the '50s and '60s, and remains available today). But for me, it was a blast from my teenage past.
When I was a junior high school student in southern Michigan, one of my favorite regional bands was Brownsville Station (ultimately famous for their No. 3 hit single "Smokin' in the Boys Room," covered in the mid-'80s to great effect by Motley Crue). Their debut album, 1970's No BS (it was actually self-titled but came to be known as No BS because of the graphic prominence of the phrase on the album's cartoon cover), featured a song that became a fixation for my best friend Kevin and me. It was a jumped-up little Rock number written by Brownsville's guitarist/vocalist Cub Koda and vocalist/guitarist Michael Lutz and titled "Do the Bosco."
At that point, albums were an expensive luxury and there was no single release for "Do the Bosco," so it was left to Kevin and me to monitor local Rock radio, armed with our ridiculously cheap cassette recorders and a .39¢ tape (which was actually video tape cut to cassette width), in an effort to capture our favorite song for posterity. We finally did, but between the indistinct signal, the tinny transistor speaker, the ambient room sound bleeding into the hand-held microphone and the hiss of the cheap tape, it sounded like someone was filling a blimp with a fire hose next to the radio.
But it didn't matter because it was the Bosco.
"That's it!" I shouted when I saw the name at the top of the dog-names list. "He'll have his own theme song! How could we not name him Bosco?"
My wife and daughter laughed at my rather animated reaction to naming the dog, but I was convinced, running to the Bunker to find my CD copy of No BS and cranking it up on the portable player in the living room: “(Bosco) Because it's easy on your feet/(Bosco) While you're walkin' down the street/(Bosco) Yeah, with your radio on, the Bosco makes you feel alright."
We met with the breeder south of Erlanger and I tested any possible allergic reaction by rubbing the puppy on my face. With the assurance that I could see and breathe, we crated the newly christened Bosco in our pet carrier and headed for home.
For the first few nights, we kept the carrier in our bedroom. Bosco would cry occasionally, and for two nights I camped on the floor next to his crate, leaving my hand in the open door so he could snuggle up next to it. During the day, I brought him down to the Bunker and let him sleep on my lap while I wrote.
Because I was home with him all day, he probably bonded closer to me than with Melissa or Isabelle. And while Isabelle adored him and gave him copious amounts of attention and love, the actual mechanics of his care and feeding fell to Melissa and myself. We realized within a few short weeks that it's not feasible to teach responsibility to a child by way of a living thing. At least someone learned something.
Three weeks after bringing Bosco home, Melissa found a fairly new kitten abandoned by the roadside on her way to work. We were a week away from going on vacation so we arranged for our neighbors to take care of our elderly cat and the new arrival, which Isabelle named Pansy, after her late grandmother's favorite flower.
We realized that we couldn't really leave Bosco home alone in our neighbors' care so we decided we would take him on vacation with us. We're not really travelers by any stretch of the imagination, and while a certain part of me would love to see various locations around the country, a bigger part of me knows that the stress of getting to a place we've never been and the planning required would undermine the restive benefits of the vacation. And so we rent the same cabin by the same lake in northern Michigan every year, and have a lovely and relaxing time doing something short of nothing.
The day before we left for vacation, Melissa was fired from her job (via an answering machine message left by her gutless employer). The relief of knowing she wouldn't be returning to that snake pit allowed her to have the most relaxing vacation of her adult life. And we all had a solid week paying very close attention to our new addition.
Bosco was an absolute champ on the 10-hour trip to the lake. We stopped and walked him constantly, he peed and drank, and then hopped back into his crate in the back seat. And once we got to the lake, Bosco loved everything about the experience; swimming in the shallow water, romping in the grass, chasing squirrels and napping in the sun. We kept a close eye on him because nature is fairly wild up there; a pair of mating bald eagles have an aerie on the other side of the lake, and naturalists have found pet collars in the nest so we were careful to make sure Bosco didn't wind up on the menu.
In subsequent years, Bosco could sense the excitement surrounding our imminent trip to Michigan and his excitement matched our own. We had taught him the word "adventure" meant a car ride for him and whenever the magic word was spoken, he immediately ran to the hook on the kitchen wall where we hung his retractable leash and waited to be collared and taken out. He was equally excited about "walkies," a word we pulled from Wallace & Gromit's The Wrong Trousers, but that was just a stroll down the walking path near our house. Bosco lived for adventure, which could mean a trip to Sharon Woods or Winton Woods or the vet's office or PetSmart, but he knew the time of year when that the biggest adventure of all would be taking place.
Bosco loved french fries and ice cream, neither of which were given to him in any great amount or with any substantial frequency. On his regular trips to the vet, his weight was always in the acceptable range for his age and relative size; we saw a Boston at Sharon Woods one afternoon that looked like he needed a roller skate under his belly to keep it from scraping the path. The Boss was always trim and healthy.
“The Boss” was one of a number of nicknames we had for him. Mister B, Pee Pee Raymond (from an episode of Everybody Loves Raymond), the Bosconator, Count Pupula, Bossy (he was marked like a cow; his first vet held him up and said, "He's my first Holstein"), Francis Ford Puppola, the aforementioned Officer Bosco. The obvious love and affection we invested in each new and often incomprehensible deviation of his actual name and beyond (Biddly Boy? Idder Bidder?) somehow let him know we were referring to him and his ears shot skyward in recognition to every stupid thing we called him.
For nine years, Bosco was our constant and brilliant companion, an animal with a better code of loyalty and love and a more defined sense of humor than a lot of human beings we encountered on a daily basis. Bosco claimed the couch in the family room as his combination bed and throne; he would drag pillows and blankets from end to end as his canine caprices guided him, fluffing and kneading and pulling until everything was in place and prepared for him to crawl under and within, emerging only for food or a good cat chase or, of course, any adventure.
Last year, Bosco's trim physique started taking on a more portly appearance, which we initially passed off as our boy entering into middle age. He had become slightly more sedentary, still interested in walking the path but actively deciding when the walk was over; he would simply turn around and head for home. Still, he seemed in good spirits and health overall.
Last winter, we noticed a patch of dry skin on his back that seemed to scab up and get flaky. When it started to spread, I took him into the vet, who informed us that he had the symptomatic appearance of a dog with Cushing's Syndrome, characterized by the dry patches, distended belly, voracious thirst and hair loss on his legs and elsewhere. The tests to confirm this diagnosis were wildly expensive and we decided against them for the time being as his health didn't seem to be compromised significantly and we were assured that dogs could conceivably live with the disease for many years without adverse effect.
Last summer, I was checking e-mail on my laptop in the Bunker when Isabelle ran down and said, "Something's wrong with Bosco, Mom wants you to come up right now." When I got to the kitchen, I found Melissa kneeling on the floor next to Bosco, who was in the midst of some sort of seizure, tongue lolled to one side, legs stiff. I took Melissa's place and started talking calmly to Bosco, petting him and trying to soothe him. In a couple of minutes, he came around and didn't seem any worse for the wear.
When he had a second episode a week later, I took him to a different vet for a second opinion, which turned out to be twofold: A) Bosco most likely did have Cushing's, and B) his seizures were not connected to it. The cost at the new vet for tests was considerably less so we went ahead and got the confirmation that he had Cushing's Syndrome and then set about planning for how we would try to work out the source of the seizures.
That's where it stood toward the end of last August when Bosco suffered what I came to believe was a massive stroke. When his seizure ceased, his personality was almost completely erased. He no longer responded to his name, he was disinterested in any kind of affection or attention, he was oblivious to the presence of the cats. All he did was walk around the family room and kitchen in a shuffling gait that seemed robotic and programmed. He only turned to the right, and if he got under a chair or pushed his nose into a corner of the room, he didn't seem to understand how to get out his predicament. He would just cry.
The most alarming loss in his training concerned the basement. As a pup, he seemed unaware that he could go down the stairs to the basement. I had always carried him down when I took him to the Bunker, and he somehow got it in his head that he couldn't go down any other way. We went ahead and let him believe it because it gave the cats a safe place where he wouldn't chase them. Even though he would run up and down the stairs to our bedrooms without a thought (when we would spring him from his baby gated rooms), he would not go down the basement stairs.
With that part of his training seemingly vanished after the second seizure, he was suddenly very curious about the basement. And because he was a little shaky on his feet, once he started down the steps, his momentum would be so great that he crashed into the wall at the bottom of the staircase. We were terrified that he was going to break his legs or his neck, so we closed the basement door, bringing the cats' litter boxes upstairs so they wouldn't need to go downstairs.
He kept us awake most of the night after his stroke with his thumping around and crying. Melissa went down and kept an eye on him, and I took over during the day after she left for work. That night, she was exhausted and so I camped out on the couch in the living room with the hope that I could get him to lay down with me and that maybe after a good night's rest, he might bounce back a little. There would be no bounce back.
I got maybe two hours of sleep that night, the brief amount of time that I got Bosco to lay down with me on the couch. The rest of the time he wanted nothing more than to walk in his shambling pattern around the two rooms. He constantly got tangled up under the kitchen chairs or stuck behind the couch or caught in the cross braces of the coffee table, all of which required me to extricate him.
All the time I was with him, I desperately tried to reach him. I asked him if he wanted to go for walkies. Nothing. I tried to get his medicine down him with food. He spit it out. Finally, I kept chanting the mantra, "Do you want to go on an adventure?" I swore to myself if I saw even a glimmer of recognition in his demeanor, I'd pack him up in the car and take him for a ride, somewhere, anywhere, just to reinforce his slight return. There was no recognition, just a dull and lifeless look when I spoke to him.
At one point, I sat on the floor and called to him. He walked over to me, which seemed like a hopeful development, and he pushed his head into my stomach, a move that used to signal he wanted to be petted. But I quickly realized he wasn't looking for affection, he was just trying to push his way through me, a giant fleshy obstruction that was keeping him from his appointed rounds.
Melissa came home for lunch the next day, and asked how Bosco was doing. I tried to recount the day's events as rationally as possible but the long night and the inevitability of all that I had witnessed came welling up. I said, "He's just not in there anymore," and broke down.
We packed up our beloved boy and drove him to vet for that last awful time. She gave him the sedative to calm him down and we spent a good half hour petting him and telling him everything would be fine, and as emotional as we all were, Isabelle provided perhaps the most poignant and heartbreaking observation of the day.
In second grade, Isabelle received her ADHD diagnosis, and the severity of her developmental challenges often separated her from her peer group. Kids at school and in the neighborhood would accept her for a while but ultimately decide she was too different or weird and give up on her. She did eventually make some good friends within her Individualized Education Program, but it was a long time coming and not before a considerable amount of loneliness and angst.
As Isabelle stood scratching his ears and gently stroking his face, she looked at us and said, "Bosco was my first friend."
In that beautiful, terrible moment, we knew that bringing this 15-pound bundle of energy and incalculable jaw strength into our lives nine years ago had been exactly the right thing to do, no matter how difficult the end game was proving to be. Because he was the Bosco. And the Bosco makes you feel all right. Did he ever.