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by Brian Baker 02.05.2014 73 days ago
Posted In: Animals, Commentary at 02:21 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)
 
 
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Bosco Makes You Feel All Right

A tribute to a lost family member and all of the gifts he gave

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.

 
 
by Jac Kern 02.05.2014 73 days ago
Posted In: TV/Celebrity, Music, Movies at 12:05 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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I Just Can't Get Enough

Jac's roundup of pop culture news and Internet findings

The Super Bowl may have disappointed Broncos fans (and nearly anyone who wanted to see a real football game), but the night brought plenty of entertainment for the rest of us. Joe Namath kicked off the fun, dressed for a late-night pimp stroll across the Arctic. Not that we’d expect anything less!

After the Seahawks crushed the first half, viewers experienced an incredible half-time show.

My bad, that's actually from Puppy Bowl X. Bruno Mars and Red Hot Chili Peppers actually performed, which is funny because you just know execs originally wanted to shoot for the young crowd and then realized 15-year-old girls don’t buy Toyotas or Budweiser, so they just added RHCP last-minute.

Halftime show pros:

Bruno Mars opened with an epic drum solo

Bruno's gold suit

His James Brown moves

Sweet back-up band

Cool Bruno segue into “Give It Away”

Anthony Kiedis is just as fine as ever

Cons:

That’s the only song RHCP played

Their music — along with Bruno Mars’ band — was pre-recorded (but it wasn’t their choice. People made a big fuss about RHCP’s instruments not being plugged in, but pre-recording is generally the rule for a live performance like this. Bruno’s singing and drumming were life, as was Anthony’s singing, while the rest of the music was mimed).

The Pepper guys weren’t wearing only tube socks

After a “messages from our troops” sequence, Bruno Mars sang that awful song from the Us Weekly commercials that totally does not work after a “messages from our troops” sequence”

The realization that I actually just can’t like Bruno Mars

All in all, there were some good performances, just nothing shocking or spectacular. However, being the 10th anniversary of Nipplegate, maybe that was the point.

Now, on to the commercials!

The Church of Scientology tried to trick us into thinking we were watching some low-budget Apple ad with this surprising commercial (and the only religious ad of the night):

Goldie Blox borrowed another Rock song for the toy company’s latest ad — hopefully they got permission this time.

We finally got to see what that Seinfeld reunion rumor was all about: A promotion for Jerry Seinfeld’s web series, Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.

Overall, two themes were prevalent in this year’s ads…

America:

and Animals (grab the tissues):

Also announced during Super Bowl commercials was the return of the hit drama 24 coming this May as well as Noah, the biblical epic starring Russell Crowe, Emma Watson and Jennifer Connelly in theaters March 8.

On last week’s episode of Workaholics, the guys hire an escort to bang theirv boss so she'll be in a good mood and allow them to host a fish fry in honor of Blake's dead koi fish. All completely acceptable work behavior. Anywho, Blake, Adam and Ders interviewed candidates and guess who appeared in the scene?

None other than Brace, star of the gripping Showtime series, Gigolos. Nice move, guys.

Not that BuzzFeed isn’t always up in our grills, but lately the site’s unleashed an endless avalanche of pop culture quizzes — so much so, the site has even taken to making fun of itself with its “What Arbitrary Thing Are You?" quiz. They’re stupid, but irresistable. So it was kind of funny when Garbage frontwoman Shirley Manson took BuzzFeed’s “Which ‘90s Alt-Rock Grrrl Are You?” quiz…and didn’t get herself.

Who doesn’t love The Sandlot? The 1993 coming-of-age comedy followed the adventures of  Smalls, Benny, Ham, Squints, Yeah-Yeah and the rest of their baseball-loving crew in 1962 Los Angeles. It’s a contemporary classic! Unfortunately, 20 years later, most of the child stars from the movie aren’t seen much in the movies and TV shows of today. On that note, meet modern-day Yeah-Yeah, who is a total choad. As seen on The Soup:

The best part might actually be his girlfriend bragging, “I graduated from UCLA,” with a mouthful of deep-fried street food.

Jonathan Banks, who played Mike Ehrmantraut on Breaking Bad, has signed on to be part of Better Call Saul. Awesome.

So you’re probably sick of Grammy-winning Lorde’s hit, “Royals” by now, but this cover is worth checking out. Don’t let the seven-foot sad clown scare you.

(Spoiler Alert: That’s actually impossible)

 
 
by German Lopez 02.05.2014 73 days ago
Posted In: News, Death Penalty, Fracking, Parking at 10:08 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Morning News and Stuff

New parking deal soon, warden denies botched execution, fracking tax bill under works

Mayor John Cranley appears to be working on another parking deal to upgrade Cincinnati’s parking meters, although the mayor’s office says this plan won’t give up control of the city’s parking meters to a private entity. At the same time, it seems the deal won’t produce a large lump-sum like the defunct parking privatization plan did. Cranley and other opponents of the old parking plan have long said that, even without privatization, the city’s parking meters need to be upgraded to accept credit card payments, among other modern features.

The warden who oversaw Dennis McGuire’s 26-minute, seemingly painful execution says it went “very well.” The execution, the longest since Ohio restarted use of the death penalty in 1999, drew international attention, particularly because many blamed the long time to kill on the state’s use of a cocktail of drugs never tried before in the United States. The warden’s statements essentially reject those concerns. Still, state officials say they’re conducting a third review of McGuire’s execution in particular, which is apparently uncommon. CityBeat covered the execution in further detail here.

An Ohio House bill could boost funding to local governments affected by the fracking boom by hiking the severance tax on oil and gas companies. Fracking is a drilling technique in which millions of gallons of water, sand and chemicals are pumped underground to unlock oil and gas reserves. Its widespread use has spurred an economic boom across the country, including northeast Ohio. While it’s boosted the overall economy, it’s also raised environmental and displacement concerns, particularly in areas where the boom is most active. CityBeat covered the fracking boom in further detail here.

In response to complaints about slow snow plowing, the city tweeted, “We’ve got 2,800+ lane miles to clear. It’s going to take some time. Please, go slow & be patient today as our crews work ’round-the-clock.”

In light of yesterday’s “debate” over evolution and biblical creationism, here are four things the anti-science crowd denies.

An Ohio Senate bill would prohibit sales of e-cigarettes to those younger than 18, but some anti-smoking activists worry the bill’s classification of e-cigarettes as an “alternative nicotine product” instead of a tobacco product could loosen regulations on the potentially cancer-causing product.

Meanwhile, CVS plans to stop selling tobacco products as it focuses more on health care.

Ohio’s standardized tests for grades 3-8 could be delayed after winter storms forced so many school closings.

The Cincinnati Fire Department is looking into the possibility of using drones — unmanned aerial vehicles — in the future through a partnership with the University of Cincinnati.

A Salvadoran newspaper used a drone to cover a presidential election.

Follow CityBeat on Twitter:
• Main: @CityBeatCincy
• News: @CityBeat_News
• Music: @CityBeatMusic
• German Lopez: @germanrlopez

Got any news tips? Email them to glopez@citybeat.com.
 
 
by German Lopez 02.04.2014 74 days ago
Posted In: News, Science at 12:20 PM | Permalink | Comments (12)
 
 
nye vs ham

Four Things the Anti-Science Crowd Denies

Bill Nye the Science Guy to “debate” Creation Museum founder Ken Ham

Bill Nye the Science Guy and Creation Museum founder Ken Ham will engage in a so-called “debate” tonight over evolution and biblical creationism, even though the scientific evidence rules out any possibility of Nye losing on the facts of evolution.

Although the scientific evidence is clear, evolution remains a contentious conflict in the United States as religious fundamentalists struggle to reconcile their literal interpretations of religious texts with scientific facts.

The conflict between science and religion is nothing new. In the late 19th century, John William Draper, an American scientist and historian, brought the conflict to the mainstream with his book, History of the Conflict between Religion and Science.

Since then, the conflict has actually expanded to include anti-science pushback from political and business interests over a wide range of issues. Here are four leading examples of today’s conflicts as they pit science against everyone else:

Evolution

Evolution is essentially the foundation of modern biology. It’s overwhelmingly supported by modern scientists. Evidence ranges from centuries of scientific observations to similarities in life’s genetic and physiological makeup to fossilized records.

“At the heart of evolutionary theory is the basic idea that life has existed for billions of years and has changed over time,” notes UC Berkeley’s evolution explainer. “Overwhelming evidence supports this fact. Scientists continue to argue about details of evolution, but the question of whether life has a long history or not was answered in the affirmative at least two centuries ago.”

In the scientific world, it’s silly to dispute the entire concept of evolution. Some, like Nye, question how the world can even make sense to someone without evolution.

“Your world just becomes fantastically complicated when you don’t believe in evolution,” Nye told Big Think.

Expect more arguments along those lines at Tuesday’s “debate,” which will be streamed live here.

Global warming

Scientists widely agree global warming is occurring and man-made. In the latest report from the the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, scientists said they are at least 95 percent certain that human actions contribute to global warming.

To understand global warming, it’s crucial to first differentiate weather and climate. Weather forecasts look at short-term trends in specific areas, like the current local temperature and whether stuff is falling out of the sky in Cincinnati. Climate science looks at huge, long-term trends that span the globe, such as global temperature trends over decades.

When climate science is viewed through the correct scientific lens, the results become practically impossible to reasonably question:


Vaccine safety

The anti-vaccine movement claims vaccines can lead to extreme complications like autism, asthma or diabetes, but the argument is backed by no notable scientific evidence.

In its broad analysis of vaccines and their adverse effects, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) found “few health problems are caused by or clearly associated with vaccines.” Specifically, the study ruled out connections between vaccines and autism, asthma and diabetes.

That’s not to say vaccines are without side-effects. In some occasions, IOM found vaccines can cause allergic reactions, seizures and fainting. But the data did not indicate serious, widespread problems.

Fortunately, both liberals and conservatives mostly reject the idea that vaccines are dangerous. That’s good news for everyone’s health. If most people doubted the science, the fears could diminish the herd effect that’s so important for preventing and combating epidemics.

Safety of genetically modified foods

Despite the sweeping scientific consensus that genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are safe, detractors continue rallying against any genetic manipulation in foods.

Major scientific groups have extensively studied GMOs during the decades the technology has been available. The consensus, from groups including the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the American Medical Association and the Royal Society of Medicine, was clear: Genetically modified foods aren’t any more harmful than conventional foods.

Even in the extremely anti-GMO Europe, an independent European Commission report found, “The main conclusion to be drawn from the efforts of more than 130 research projects, covering a period of more than 25 years of research, and involving more than 500 independent research groups, is that biotechnology, and in particular GMOs, are not per se more risky than e.g. conventional plant breeding technologies.”

An even larger study from Italian scientists reached similar conclusions.

In its defense, the anti-GMO movement typically points to a study that initially claimed to find evidence of tumors in rats that consumed genetically modified foods. But the scientific journal that published the study, Food and Chemical Toxicology, actually retracted the findings after deciding they were “inconclusive, and therefore do not reach the threshold of publication.”

Given the lack of evidence, it’s easy to understand why scientific organizations around the world seem so aligned against the anti-GMO movement:


 
 
by Brian Baker 02.04.2014 74 days ago
Posted In: Live Music, Local Music, Music Video, New Releases at 10:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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REVIEW: Black Owls' 'Wild Children'

If you are even a marginal fan of Black Owls (whose members split time between Cincinnati and Granville, Ohio) and have not yet visited their Bandcamp page to purchase a copy of their recent recorded triumph, Wild Children (which came out late last year), off with you. I'll wait. 

The Owls' fourth album is nothing less than the maturation of a supremely talented band that has been patiently waiting for the right pieces to fall into the right places almost from the beginning. The installation of drummer extraordinaire Brian Kitzmiller and the relocation of vocalist David Butler away from the drummer's chair and to the front of the stage was the first necessary shift, while adding second guitarist Brandon Losacker as a frenetic foil to Ed Shuttleworth's tightly coiled brilliance was inspired and equally required.

The bass position has been problematic only in its temporary nature; Nancy/National bassist Mike Brewer left to pursue his own thing, the thunderously wonderful Alan Beavers was forced from his role due to back issues and Goose four stringer Sammy Wulfeck was almost psychotically overextended and had to bow out; his work is all over Wild Children, a

tantalizing hint at what he brought to the Owls and further proof of his longstanding chemistry with Kitzmiller. (For the record, both Beavers and Brewer guest on Wild Children and remain welcome alumni in the Owls' extended family.)



On the whole, Wild Children is an expansion of the Owls' sonic mission statement of cross-pollinating early '70s-era Glam (see Bowie/Mott/Marc Bolan) with late '70s-era New York Punk (via Tom Verlaine's Television, Richard Hell's Voidoids and Lou Reed's simple fury). A good many of the songs on Wild Children have been worked out in live sets over the past year or so and will be familiar to anyone who has haunted the band's numerous local appearances; the effervescently charged "Incandescent Vultures," the melodically moody "She Invented Air," the propulsive and sinewy title track, produced into a beefy studio anthem. There's even a re-recording of "Julias Morningstar," one of the Owls' most recognizable and popular tracks from their 2008 debut, Lightning Made Us Who We Are. Wild Children shows that the Owls are gelling nicely and becoming even more comfortable and confident in the brilliant niche they've created for themselves.


And while Wild Children is patently excellent and an absolute necessity, perhaps even more exciting is the two-track glimpse into the Owls' future just revealed by Kitzmiller. A result of recent sessions featuring former Doc & the Pods/Roundhead four-stringer Kip Roe, an absolute prince of a human being and the perfect piece to complete the Owls' puzzle, the two songs find the quintet sounding less like the brilliant sum of their influences and more like a blazingly original band that has effectively incorporated their heroes into their creative vision without showing a seam

or dropping a stitch. "Gasoline" is a hard-charging, manic and relentless three minute thrill ride (and a prime candidate for the first single from the album that it will eventually crown), while "Rook" muscles along with the shivering, shimmering energy that has defined the Owls' best work over the past six years. These two as-yet-unmastered tracks show Black Owls evolving into a focused unit of astonishing power and unlimited potential.


More. Soon. Please. 


Black Owls perform for free this Friday at Newport’s Southgate House Revival in the Lounge room during The Black Angels/Roky Erickson concert in the venue’s Sanctuary.

 
 
by German Lopez 02.04.2014 74 days ago
Posted In: News, Science, Police, State Legislature at 09:58 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
city hall

Morning News and Stuff

City to add more cops, evolution “debate” today, Winburn considers State Senate race

Mayor John Cranley, Chief Jeffrey Blackwell and other city officials yesterday announced a police plan to put more cops on the streets, focus on “hot spots” of crime, restart the gang unit and reach out to youth. Blackwell acknowledged more cops alone won’t solve or prevent the city’s heightened levels of violent crimes and homicides, but he said changing the level of enforcement through new tactics, such as hot spot policing, could help. A lot of research supports hot spot policing, although the practice can sometimes backfire, as “stop and frisk” did in New York City, if it targets minorities.

Bill Nye the Science Guy today will debate Creation Museum owner Ken Ham. The debate will focus on evolution, which is overwhelmingly supported by science, and biblical creationism, which has no scientific evidence to support it. The debate will be streamed live here.

Republican Councilman Charlie Winburn is considering a run for the Ohio Senate. Winburn would run in the heavily Democratic 9th Senate District. So far, there are two likely Democratic opponents: former Councilman Cecil Thomas and State Rep. Dale Mallory. The seat is open because State Sen. Eric Kearney, the Democratic incumbent, is term limited.

Republican Hamilton County Commissioner Chris Monzel might get two Democratic opponents in this year’s election: Sean Feeney, a North College Hill resident who already filed, and potentially Paul Komerak, a member of the Hamilton County Democratic Party’s executive committee. If both Komerak and Feeney run, they could face off in a Democratic primary.

City Council’s Budget and Finance Committee unanimously approved tax credits for Tom + Chee to entice the grilled cheese and tomato soup chain to keep its headquarters downtown as it expands nationally. Councilman Kevin Flynn questioned whether tax breaks should be given so leniently, but other council members argued the tax deals keep jobs in the city.

City Council might structurally balance the budget and fix the underfunded pension system to stabilize Cincinnati’s bond rating.

The Ohio Senate is still mulling over ways to repeal Ohio’s renewable energy and efficiency standards. CityBeat covered the standards in greater detail here and here.

Democratic attorney general candidate David Pepper wants to reform how the state picks outside law firms to avoid appearances of pay-to-play that have mired Republican Attorney General Mike DeWine. A previous Dayton Daily News investigation found firms lobbying for state assignments contributed $1.3 million to DeWine’s campaign.

Attorneys for the Ohio inmate next scheduled for execution asked for a stay to avoid a “lingering death” similar to the 26-minute, seemingly painful execution of Dennis McGuire. CityBeat covered McGuire’s execution and the concerns it raised in further detail here.

Enrollment in Ohio’s public colleges and universities dropped by 2 percent in the latest fall semester.

Ohio gas prices ticked up at the start of the week, but the lowest average was in Cincinnati.

Scientists claim space-grown vegetables are safe to eat.

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Got any news tips? Email them to glopez@citybeat.com.

 
 
by Kelsey Kennedy 02.03.2014 74 days ago
Posted In: TV/Celebrity at 03:44 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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'Downton Abbey' Season Four, Episode Five

Bringing the Latest in Uppity British Television

Upstairs:

My gosh, the tiff between the Dowager Countess and Lady Isobel Crawley gains more headway with every episode. Maggie Smith, who I have a fantastical appreciation for, never fails to captivate the Downton audience, especially when she’s acting like a stern old bat, which is all the time. She says things like, “simply ghastly” and “good heavens” when she disapproves of anything (which is everything) and sometimes her voice even slips into a severely low masculine tone. It’s like the opposite of a pre-pubescent voice crack that makes me shiver in fear.

This week, the D C of G loses her ivory envelope opener and her temper with Isobel Crawley. Sassy bell-ringing, eloquently worded cat fights and extreme nose flaring ensues. Let’s just say this one goes to Maggie Smith, “game, set and match.”

While Edith is falling apart because she is pregnant (holy cow) and literally lost her boyfriend (no! Michael Gregson!), Mary pushes Branson about whether or not he will go to America. His reply? “Oh, don’t worry. I won’t go until the pig business is up and running,” which does nothing but vaguely reassure me of his eventual exit from the show.

Meanwhile, Rose planned a surprise birthday party for Lord Grantham involving a “band from the city,” but we all know how he and Mr. Carson feel about the arts — and awkward racial tension. Surprisingly, LG goes with it and decides to enjoy his time with the band.

Evelyn Napier (a potential suitor!) brings his friend Charles Blake, who wants to dismember the aristocracy and take the Grantham family down with him. Not the most suave decision, on his part. The last time he brought a friend to Downton, he ended up dead in Mary’s bed. Mr. Blake better watch his back.

Cora’s half-American, half-English accent makes me cringe. However, strange accents aside, she did save the day when Anna and Bates had a typical can’t-get-a-restaurant-reservation-Seinfeld-moment.

Mary, Tom and Isobel shared a tender moment when they reminisced about their dead partners. Mary isn’t “unhappy, but not ready to be happy,” and they take pleasure in knowing the love that they had was real.

Downstairs:

A simple walk downstairs takes us to the usual thieving, conniving and wit of the servants’ quarters. The absolute best part of the entire episode is when Mrs. Patmore is talking about the Italian movie star Rudolph Valentino and says, “He makes me shiver all over,” then the camera cuts to Mr. Carson’s face immediately after the fact. Carson, old boy — you kill me. It’s the little things about this show that viewers need to pay attention to, because they truly make it.

Julian Fellowes trying to tell us something about 20th century gender roles and the treatment of women — and how prevalent they still are today. Ivy, a kitchen maid, is shamed after Jimmy, the snotty footman, tells her he deserves her “services” because he took her out on a date.

Anna has moved back into the cottage with Mr. Bates, and they both try to make new memories and move on from her violent rape.

Alfred has achieved his life goal of going to cooking school so it’s goodbye to him. Daisy’s heart is broken but they share a tender goodbye. When is Daisy going to find love?

Thomas the horrible head butler is still blackmailing Mrs. Baxter and physically intimidating everyone around him. Carson is blatantly racist and Mrs. Hughes remains saint-like.

The night ends with the upper class dancing to Jazz and genuinely enjoying it, and Mary walking in on Rose’s snog-fest with the lead singer. As usual, the orchestra’s music chimes in at just the right moment.

“Aren’t we the lucky ones.” – Isobel Crawley

 
 
by Mike Breen 02.03.2014 75 days ago
Posted In: Live Music, Live Stream, CEAs at 01:27 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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WATCH: The 2014 Cincinnati Entertainment Awards

Live video from Jan. 26 CEA ceremony now available courtesy of ICRCTV

Last Sunday's Cincinnati Entertainment Awards show — which featured 19 awards for local musicians and nine top-notch performances — is available to watch now courtesy of the fine folks at ICRCTV. Now's your chance to watch, in the comfort of your home, the show about which people have said was "fun," "blerg," "entertaining," "disappointing," "amateurish," "too noisy" and "lacking in chairs"! 

Click here for CityBeat's wrap-up of the show (plus the winners in each category), here for Jac Kern's observations as a first time host and here for oodles of photos from the event.

 
 
by Rick Pender 02.03.2014 75 days ago
Posted In: Theater at 10:23 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Broadway in Cincinnati Announces 2014-15 Season

Tony winners fairytales and Pop titles to grace Aronoff audiences

Broadway in Cincinnati today is announcing its 2014-2015 season, which will bring back The Lion King for a month-long run in April 2015 as well as the 2012 Tony Award winner, Once, which has a two week run in mid-November 2014. Lion King had a record-breaking engagement at the downtown Cincinnati’s Aronoff Center in 2007, and the winner of 1998’s best musical Tony continues its long run on Broadway. Once, based on the 2007 movie of the same name, is theatrical retelling of the story of musicians in Dublin. Played out in an Irish pub, if features an impressive ensemble of actor-musicians who play their own instruments onstage.
\"The Lion King\"
Photo: Joan Marcus
The season also offers two tried-and-true classics: Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella, a made-for-TV musical fairytale from 1957 which had a well-received Broadway run in 2013, will land at the Aronoff Center next January for two weeks. And a classic from 1934, Cole Porter’s Anything Goes will show up for five days in February; the story of love and blackmail on a cruise ship sailed back to Broadway in 2011 and won three Tonys.

Rounding out the season are several shows with roots in pop culture. The season opens with Dirty Dancing, a musical based on the 1987 movie about a summer vacation in the Catskills that turns into a steamy romance with a lot of choreography. For the holidays, we get another short run aimed at families: Elf: The Musical about an human orphan who ends up as one of Santa’s elves, but never quite fits in. It’s based on the 2003 film that starred Will Farrell. (Broadway in Cincinnati had good luck last Thanksgiving with a short run of How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and this is surely aimed at the same audience.)

Also likely to capture an audience in search of for laughs is the season’s concluding production, I Love Lucy: Live On Stage, bringing to life recreations of one of TV’s greatest sitcoms with actors portraying Lucy and Ricky Ricardo and Ethel and Fred Mertz. Set in 1952, it lets audiences pretend they’re attending the filming of a pair of classic episodes on an L.A. soundstage. It’s not a musical, but it has lots of tuneful interludes by Ricky’s orchestra at the Tropicana Nightclub, plus ’50s style singing commercials.

Season subscriptions go on sale today: 800-294-1816 or BroadwayinCincinnati.com

Dirty Dancing (Sept. 23-Oct. 5, 2014)

Once (Nov. 11-23, 2014)

Elf: The Musical (Dec. 2-7, 2014)

Cinderella (Jan. 6-18, 2015)

Anything Goes (Feb. 17-22, 2015)

The Lion King (March 31-April 26, 2015)

I Love Lucy (June 2-14, 2015.

 
 
by German Lopez 02.03.2014 75 days ago
Posted In: News, Police, Mayor at 10:17 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)
 
 
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City Unveils Plan to Add More Cops

Proposal shifts enforcement to overtime, hot spots and youth outreach

City officials on Monday announced a new public safety initiative that promises to put more cops on the streets, focus on “hot spots” of crime, restart the gang unit and do more to reach out to youth.

The comprehensive plan comes after a rough start to the year, with homicides and violent crime ticking up even as the weather remains cold.

Among other initiatives, the plan will add more cops on the ground through new hires, more overtime and a new recruit class — the first since 2008.

“The message to people is that help is on the way,” Mayor John Cranley said.

The plan will come at higher costs to an already-strained operating budget. Cranley said the Cincinnati Police Department set aside nearly $1 million for the proposal through June, while the remaining $5.6 million should be funded in the city’s $370-plus million operating budget.

When asked whether initiatives like the one announced Monday will hurt the budget, Cranley reiterated his long-standing position that public safety takes top priority in the city budget.

Cincinnati Police Chief Jeffrey Blackwell said the refocus intends to prevent, not just solve, crimes. He acknowledged more cops alone won’t end the citys crime problem, but he argued increasing the level of evidence-based enforcement — through new tactics supported by more cops on the streets — could make a difference.

Cranley and Blackwell cautioned the results might not be immediate, but they said it’s an important step to stop levels of crime local residents are clearly unhappy with.

Hot spot policing carries a high level of empirical support. In two different studies from Rutgers and the Ministry of Justice in the Netherlands, researchers argued the strategy doesn’t always displace crime; it can also prevent crime by deterring and discouraging future incidents in hot spots and surrounding areas — what researchers call a “diffusion” of benefits.

But the concept also needs to be executed carefully. In New York City, “stop and frisk” became a fairly unpopular type of hot spot policing after some reports found the strategy targeted racial makeups in neighborhoods more than levels of crime.

Of course, better policing isn’t the only way to combat crime. As two examples, lead abatement and ending the war on drugs could prevent violence by reducing aggression and eliminating a huge source of income for drug cartels.

This story was updated to include more information from the city managers memo.

 
 

 

 

 
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