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by Kenneth McNulty 06.03.2013
Posted In: TV/Celebrity, Travel, Movies, Culture at 11:12 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)
 
 
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Disney World's 'Star Wars' Weekends: A Mega-Fan's View

When our summer interns go on family vacation, we can’t send them off without an assignment. So our resident Star Wars buff, Kenneth, gave us a rundown of Star Wars Weekend at Disney World.

At the age when most children began watching Aladdin, Hercules and Beauty and the Beast, I was lost in a galaxy far, far away. From those days on, my obsession has only grown. So, as you can imagine, I went to Disney World’s Star Wars Weekends years ago before Disney bought the franchise. People have voiced their opinions, which range from: “They’re ruining the series!” to “They’ll make it too kid-ish!” The list goes on. Opinions on that aside, Disney has been doing Star Wars Weekends for a while, since 1997. From what I remembered as a kid, Disney did a great job — I know I had fun.

Coming back after all of these years, with knowledge and wisdom of the series I’d acquired over the years in mind, I walked into Hollywood Studios half asleep from getting to the park so early. Needless to say, it was far more than I could’ve ever imagined. Disney has always been known for its showmanship and they really came through for this year’s festivities.

Disney had an all-star lineup of characters from the films and animated series, and fans could get autographs and watch them in different shows throughout the day. Just to name a few: Ray Park (Darth Maul), James Arnold Taylor (Obi-Wan in the animated series) Jeremy Bulloch (Boba Fett), Warwick Davis (Wicket) and Ashley Eckstein (Ahsoka Tano from the animated series). The park also had dozens of other characters guests could take pictures with during the day. It was almost guaranteed that around every corner, someone would run into a character from the universe. Whether it was Darth Vader shrouded in Storm Troopers or Tusken Raiders, it was always a treat.

The party carries on through four shows daily Friday-Sunday and change slightly each weekend (this year, the event runs every weekend May 17-June 9). There’s always a show with the special guest of the week like Warwick Davis or Jeremy Bulloch — the talks were just interesting to sit in on. The master of ceremonies and host of each show was James Arnold Taylor, voice actor extraordinaire. He even demonstrated 200 different voices he could do. Impressive, I know. Taylor hosted a talk show as well, where he interviewed the visiting star and Ray Park each day. This could range from being hilarious to quite inspiring depending on the guest. Trust me on that, hearing a story of how Boba Fett messed up his lines on his first day is something to behold.

If a taste for stunts and action are up your alley, Ray Park had his own martial arts show where he went through different fighting styles with an array of weapons. This was also where you learned to loathe the children who got the chance to go on stage and do move sets with the master himself. I’m still seething from that.

Special merchandise could be found at the one stop Star Wars shop near the back of the park: the Darth Mall (clever title if I don’t say so myself). Collectibles, helmets, toys, Disney characters in Star Wars outfits — it was all there. Guests could truly lose themselves in a place like that. If you’re an unabashed fan like myself, you can’t help but spend oodles of money there. I went in wanting something small and spent more than $90. Needless to say, it was neigh impossible to leave without some form of paraphernalia in hand.

Now, to deflect, again, the opinions I may have about Disney buying Star Wars. I have to say, Star Wars Weekends are on par with some conventions I’ve heard of. When Disney gets a hold of something, they’ll flaunt it and make it something everyone can enjoy. These weekends are comparable to a sacred gathering for fans of the series. To see people who enjoy these movies as much as I do having as much fun as me was sublime. The energy there was almost tangible, especially during Memorial Day weekend. The park’s population swelled so much, it almost reached capacity. This weekend was full of characters, big name actors, festivities, themes snacks, souvenirs and ways to immerse fans in the universe itself. Guests could make themselves Storm Troopers — it was awesome. I digress, these weekends were nothing less than magical for me and, from what I could tell, those around me. Where else at this time could you see Boba Fett dance with Princess Leia in her slave outfit?

For this Star Wars fan, Disney did a great job setting the atmosphere of my favorite series. The entire park was flooded with Star Wars music until the park closed. The employees where all nice, the characters excellent and actors incredible, I couldn’t have asked for a better time. The fireworks show was impressive, too — Disney literally ended the festivities with quite a bang.

 
 
by Hannah McCartney 05.31.2013
Posted In: Humor, Culture, Life at 11:20 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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The Answers Issue: Asking You to Ask Us

Soliciting questions about anything and everything Cincinnati

You might have heard about CityBeat's first Answers Issue, but in case you haven't, here's a quick and dirty rundown: You submit us questions about life in the Queen City you want answered, but can't solve with the help of Wikipedia, Siri or your mom. That means anything on city politics, arts and culture, food, sports, neighborhoods, dog-friendly restaurants, Clifton's suspicious monopoly on Indian cuisine, why McMicken Avenue is consistently scary at all hours of the day, why Cincinnati doesn't have its own font, or if any episodes of The Wire cross-reference any IRL events in Cincinnati.

Then we'll do some sleuthing, drink some Redbull, make some calls, read some files, spend a few hours on Google, hit up the library, talk to some fortune-tellers — whatever we can to get your questions answered.

You submit your question (check out the Answers Issue page here), and our dutiful reporting team will pick the ones we like best, divide them up and bring you back the answers in an issue sourced directly from you guys. Don't worry, we can see your names when you submit, but otherwise, your questions will be anonymous.

Here's a taste of what we've gotten so far:

Q: What would win in a fight, an Over-the-Rhine rat, or a Fountain Square pigeon? Each would be able to choose one non-projectile weapon of its choice.

Q: Where can you find poutine on a menu in Cincy?

Q: What would be the economic and environmental effects of making hunting illegal in the Greater Cincinnati region?

Q: Why is it that Madison Road through O'Bryonville can get backed up to DeSales Corner on some days during rush hour, but be completely open on others?

Q: Is it safe to jump in the Genius of Water Fountain?

Q: Why isn't Hudephol brewed in Cincinnati?

Some, clearly, are taking it more seriously than others, but that's okay. Be real, we all need to know who'd win that fight (Disclaimer: No animals will be injured in the making of The Answers Issue).

We could use a lot more questions, you inquiring minds. Here's the question submissions form.


 
 
by Jac Kern 05.31.2013
Posted In: Events, Fun, TV/Celebrity, Arts, Culture at 10:56 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Your Weekend To Do List: 5/31-6/2

Photography’s bad boy, Tyler Shields, returns to Cincinnati for another exhibit at Miller Gallery, kicked off with an opening reception in Over-the-Rhine Friday. Known for his controversial celebrity photos, Shields last exhibited at Miller Gallery in October as part of FotoFocus. Now he’s back showing off his latest collection of photos, Suspense, featuring images of people falling, floating and flipping across striking backgrounds. Friday’s opening is a pop-up gallery party at the Hanke Building (1130 Main St., OTR). VIP $50 tickets grant 8 p.m. admission, free valet parking, an open bar and photo op with Shields. General admission from 9 p.m.-midnight is $10 and includes three drink tickets. It’s sure to be a super party and a great chance to brush shoulders with the “who’s who” of the art community. Proceeds benefit Flashes of Hope, a national nonprofit with the mission to photograph every child with cancer until every child is cured. Buy tickets here or bring cash at the door.

Across the river in Newport, Powerhouse Factories celebrates music festival season with a Summer Shindig Friday. Enjoy live music from The Pinstripes, a great view from Powerhouse’s patio, great deals on the factory’s excellent assortment music posters (BOGO half-off) and frosty beers from MadTree Brewery. The free party runs 6 p.m.-midnight.

The Fringe Festival continues this weekend (through June 8), with plenty of original, unusual and just plan weird theater performances throughout the city. Go here for performance reviews, a complete festival schedule and the official festival guide. And getcho Fringe on!

The 46th annual Summerfair takes over Coney Island Friday-Sunday. This festival, one of the oldest continuous art fairs in the country, features more than 300 fine artists, crafters, youth arts organizations and performers exhibiting and selling photographs, pottery, textiles, jewelry and much more.

Are you a Shark or a Jet? A Greaser or a Soc? A Mod or a Rocker? Do you rock a scooter or a motorcycle? Either way, folks from “both sides of the tracks” will come together this weekend for the Queen City Mods & Rockers Rally, a weekend-long event to promote unity between both types of motor enthusiasts. Events include family-friendly rides, a pin-up girl contest, a bike rally, happy hour, a group breakfast and more. A $30 pass gets you admission to all the three-day events. Go here for more info.

For more art, shows, festivals, concerts and events to check out this weekend, peep our To Do picks full calendar.

 
 
by Hannah McCartney 05.15.2013
Posted In: Life, Culture, Humor at 01:40 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)
 
 
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Ohioans Fucking Swear a Lot

We're No. 1 ... in profanity

Did you know there's such a thing as National Etiquette Week? And that it's happening right fucking now?

Of course there is. This is America, motherfuckers.

Well, while the rest of the country is practicing their table manners and shit, we in Ohio apparently don't give a damn, according to a recent study conducted by Seattle-based Marchex Institute.

The bitches at Marchex apparently listened in on 600,000 calls placed from consumers to businesses across 30 different industries, and found that out of all 50 states, Ohioans are most likely to go AWOL on the phone.

Washington state was the least likely to curse. They swore about every 300 conversations; we dropped expletives about every 150 exchanges.

According to the findings, Washingtonians were also 800 times more likely to be afraid of caterpillars and use only anti-bacterial soap, while Ohioans were 46 times more likely to crush beer cans with their hands or eat store-bought apples before they even washed them.

We're guessing Washingtonians probably say things like, "Bejabbers!" or "Criminy!" when shit goes wrong. And that's just fuckin' lame. 

Oh, and guys, don't forget — tomorrow is National Sea Monkey Day.

 
 
by Staff 04.10.2013
Posted In: Culture at 02:04 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)
 
 
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In Case You Missed It

Mayor Mark Mallory + Justin Timberlake

Mayor Mallory and JT, just hanging at the White House. NBD. 

Timberlake was at the White House this week (performing last night, April 9) to celebrate Memphis Soul music as part of the upcoming PBS In Performance at the White House series, airing 8 p.m. April 16.

Watch Timberlake perform some classic Otis Redding, along with snippets of a performance by Ben Harper and some more music:

 
 
by Hannah McCartney 03.29.2013
Posted In: Food, Eats, Culture, Life at 02:24 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Eight Local Eating Challenges

Eat a lot of food to find glory, fame, heartburn

If you're looking for your own 15 minutes of fame but find your skill sets are generally limited to things that are superfluous  — or, in this case, possibly self-destructive — your best bet might be to take up one of these local eating challenges (these are the ones we know of — we bet there's a lot more of 'em) so you can achieve glory, superstar status and indigestion — right after you unbuckle your pants.

Everybody knows Cincinnati is obsessed with food, probably because there's a lot of it around here. Good food, that is. Whether you want to show off, naturally induce hibernation, experience a lifetime's worth of a particular dish in one sitting or just want a good story to tell, there are plenty of opportunities to make it happen with eating challenges around the city.

We’ve only added the ones we were able to confirm with the restaurant, but if you're dead-set on checking one of these out, it's probably a good idea to call ahead and make sure it's not a periodical offering. Be sure to let us know where we missed in the comments!

1) Ramundo's Pizza  (Mount Lookout)
Two people split a 26-inch pizza with extra cheese and two toppings, with 10 minutes to devour the whole thing. It's an investment — the pizza costs $35 — but you get it (and heartburn) for free if you finish.

2) Blue Ash Chili (Blue Ash) – "No Freakin' Way Challenge": One person + 2.5 lbs. spaghetti + 2.5 lbs. chili. + 2.5 lbs. cheese + 1 lb. jalapenos + 60 minutes + $40 = the most extravagant and gut-busting possible way to prove your obsession with our city's trademark dish, Cincinnati chili. If you finish, it's free and you'll get a spot on the Hall of Fame plus a T-shirt. Losers go on the Hall of Shame, but you'll still get a tee for free.

3) Raniero’s Pizza  (Cold Springs, Ky.) – Two people have 10 minutes to devour a 24-inch pizza, and each is allowed one 20 oz. cup of water. Beat the clock and get the pizza for free; beat the record and get a T-shirt, too.

4) Mecklenburg Gardens (Corryville) – The “Uber Terminator Challenge”: One person has an hour to put down a 3-foot long spicy mettwurst sausage on a hoagie bun, covered with peppers and sauerkraut. It’s $25, and free if you make it. You get a free T-shirt either way.

5) Padrino’s  (Milford)– Four pounds of spaghetti and meatballs + you + 45 minutes. If you make it, it’s free; if not, $30.

6) Izzy’s (multiple locations)
“110 Reuben Challenge”:  Of course, made famous a la Man v. Food: a super-sized potato pancake, more than 1 lb. of corned beef, a heap of sauerkraut, dressing and cheese, all inside a big loaf of poppyseed bread. You have 30 minutes to eat this monstrosity — it’s $19.99 — and if you make it, you’ll get it fo’ free plus a T-shirt and a photo on the Izzy’s wall of shame fame.

7) Guiseppe’s Pizza (Covington)  “Legend of the Drunken Fireman”: Just you and a 20-inch, 20-topping, 7-lb. pizza plus 59 minutes. If you lose, it’ll set you back $50; if you make it, you’ll get it free plus a T-shirt.

8) Bard’s Burgers  (Covington) – Two different challenges here: Go big with the Bardzilla — a burger with 10 1/3-lb. beef patties, 10 pieces of cheese, 2 lbs. of French fries and a 16 oz. milkshake (close to 7 lbs. of food). Free if you make it through in 45 minutes or less, $30 if not. Or, for the more timid, there’s the “Little Zilla” — beat the customer record to chow down one of two triple-stacked specialty burgers — the Kitchen Sink or the Widow Maker (eek) — plus an order of large fries and a milkshake, for a free meal
 
 
by Hannah McCartney 03.28.2013
Posted In: The Worst, Culture, Fashion, Life at 12:42 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Are the Swedes Leading the Mannequin Revolution?

You know when you’re at the store and they’ve run out of your size in a shirt you really, really wanted? And you look at the one hanging on the mannequin hoping and praying it’s a medium so you can derobe her and leave with that peplum top?

We all know that’s a lost cause, because she’s always, without fail, wearing a damn extra small, because anything larger would engulf the porcelain, size 2 life-size Barbie, which would make the clothes terrible and nobody would want to buy them.

One department store in Sweden — surprisingly, the stereotypical exporters of blonde, Scandinavian ice queens — has finally launched a "f&*# you" campaign against the mannequin industry standard, which apparently values female mannequins that are often designed to be six inches taller and six inches smaller than the average woman, according to the Chicago Tribune. Basically, clothes made only for this Ukrainian woman, who went through an insane amount of plastic surgery to become the first "real-life Barbie" (click on her photo to read more)





The store only has two of the normal mannequins right now, who are sporting some classy lingerie. Photos of the mannequins have gone viral, and to absolutely nobody's surprise, women across the world have become pretty smitten with the concept of seeing models in clothes that don't look radically different from themselves.

It's actually pretty genius, from a marketing standpoint: Aside from making a super-powerful social statement, it seems likely their sales will probably skyrocket — how many times, after all, have you seen something looking fabulous on a mannequin and tried it on yourself, only to look in the mirror with horror and disgust?

Let's compare. On the left, two Victoria's Secret mannequins. On the right, the lady from the Swedish department store