The weekly, true storytelling public radio show with its quirky, adorable host seriously has something for everyone — timely topics, laugh-out-loud (or cry-out-loud) anecdotes, thoughtful insight. TAL even got my stubborn, conservative father to listen to NPR on a regular basis. So since we can all agree how awesome it is, let's celebrate the announcement that Ira and Co. will present a live show in New York City, to be broadcast in movie theaters across the country on May 10.
Those who watched the television adaptation of This American Life know how flawlessly the program can be adapted to incorporate visual elements with the standard unscripted storytelling format. But the live show is set to involve more than just interviews and animations seen in the TV program.
The show will go live at 8 p.m. May 10 onstage at the Skirball Center for the Performing Arts in New York City. If you can't make the trip to the Big Apple (it's sold out anyway), check it out at one of many local theaters screening the show, including AMC Newport, Western Hills 14, Florence 14, Milford 16, Springdale Showcase Cinemas and Deerfield Town Center. Many of these theaters will present an encore screening May 15 as well. Go here for tickets.
My friend Charlie texted me this morning to ask if I had baseball pants and a jersey (a wooden bat would be great too, he said). Assuming he was throwing together a Halloween costume, I replied: "Of course i do. u can get it tonite. :)"
Charlie said thanks and that he'd come by during the evening. And then he said this: "Write something good about Cincinnati today!"
I laughed to myself because that's not really my thing. I talk mass shit about Cincinnati all the time. I am nearly impossible to hang out with at a Reds game because I spend the entire time I'm not in the $7 beer line complaining about advertisements, stadium architecture, Fort Washington Way, The Banks Project, Cincinnati's misguided re-urbanization techniques, the weather, the Reds' front office and my dad. I'm no fun.
But then I started wondering, "Why does Charlie have such a good attitude? What does that fucker have going on these days that's making him feel content enough to appreciate Cincinnati?"
Charlie and I have known each other since high school, when our JV soccer team kicked the asses of most surrounding schools' young backup players. We've spent a lot of time at college parties and local bars, with recreational sporting events mixed in on the weekends. We were both injured during the past year because we're starting to become old and frail. One time we were going to kiss each other for $40, and Charlie said he'd have done it for $20.
Some time during the day (I think it was right after Jason Gargano, Kevin Osborne and I cornered Maija Zummo just to make her feel uncomfortable), I began to realize why Charlie has such a good attitude: He just spent half a year in South Korea. And this isn't to knock the "Land of the Morning Calm," it's more of a recognition that when people leave Cincinnati they totally miss it.
I've been back in Cincinnati for two years after spending two years in Oregon (where the micro brews flow like the Willamette River). Oregon is great, and people there are intrigued by people from weird places like Cincinnati. But when I returned home after finishing graduate school - broke with no job and twice the student loan debt I left with - I was happy. All the jackasses that I grew up with and met during college were here doing the same stuff we did before I left. They had new jobs and had finished their degrees and changed their facial hair, but they were here and we enjoyed things just like we always had.
Many of us feel stuck here at times, and if our financial or professional situations don't allow us to get the hell out for a minute and observe a better functioning society, we start to hate Cincinnati and ourselves for setting up shop here. There will never be bike lanes throughout the city or functional public transit or efficient recycling or expanded social services. At least not until the Baby Boomer population thins out and our children grow up and help us change things.
But until then Cincinnati is what it is, and leaving for a while allows you to see only the good, and in some ways you even start to forgive the bad. Charlie was in South Korea, presumably drinking on the streets, singing karaoke, dressing funny and enjoying the intricacies of another culture. And in doing so he was also taking the Cincinnati show on the road, offering a glimpse into the persona of someone who grew up in a strange place but knew there was more out there than what his parents had or his hometown offered.
But until Charlie or
you or I break into or rise up through a creative industry (or the
stock market goes back to relying on goods being sold rather than how
likely goods are to be sold), we're going to be living in Cincinnati, and it's
not really that bad. It's actually kind of good.
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.
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.
Comedian Stewart Huff: Primarily a storyteller, he now focuses on stand-up. Huff started off wanting to be a writer of short stories. He wrote in secret, but after doing an open mic he became intrigued by what that art form had to offer. “I was obsessed with the idea of telling a story on stage and getting immediate feedback,” he says. After a time, Huff decided to focus solely on stand-up. Showtimes Thursday-Sunday. $8-$14. Go Bananas, 8410 Market Place Lane, Montgomery, gobananascomedy.com.
I opted out of typing music listings and attending sociology class Friday in favor of checking out the conference taking place on the University of Cincinnati’s campus: Pop Praxis: Social Justice & the Media. With discussion topics like, “Disco Stick: Lady Gaga and the Phallus” and a keynote speech from Bitch Magazine’s own Andi Zeisler, I was stoked for an enlightening day of stimulating pop culture discussion.
The conference was the result of a collection of papers, presentations and workshops submitted by speakers ranging from undergrads to professors to alumni from a number of universities. Submissions were required to regard "pop culture as it relates to feminism, race, disability or queer theory, class, consumption, and all forms of political activism or cultural production."
It was an honor for the university to welcome Andi Zeisler, co-founder and editorial/creative director of Bitch: Feminist Response to Pop Culture. She wasted no time launching into a pointed discussion about the importance of feminism today, despite the general public’s tendency to assume that the movement is past and irrelevant.
“Any media needs to make money,” Zeisler pointed out, “and the quickest and surest way to do that is to sell out women.”
In short, while addressing the frustrating roadblocks today’s feminist advocates face, Zeisler commended technology and blogging as new ways to comment on the media and bring important issues to public attention, keeping intelligent discussion going that might not have been able to take place before.
Zeisler said Bitch’s goal is to help people think about pop culture in a more critical way, so it makes sense that the speakers in the sessions that followed did exactly that.
While the main event was arguably Zeisler's speech, the presentations and workshops were fun and eye opening.
During the first session, Sarah Mitchell called out Winnie of The Wonder Years for her textbooks that attempt to make math “sexy” for middle school girls in “Postfeminist Math Barbie: Danica McKellar’s Provocative Education Advocacy.” Lee Serbin also pointed out the shaky, back-and-forth stance Tina Fey’s character holds between feminism and postfeminism in 30 Rock during her discussion, “30 Rock and Feminism in Flux.”
Some women in the media, however, aren’t so bad to look up to. One presenter discussed how Lady Gaga rocked the phallus on the cover of Q Magazine as a response to the public’s accusation that she’s packing a package. While still technically enforcing the belief that a penis equates power, her gender-bending humor puts sexists in their place.
A strong argument was also made for Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Admittedly, she was skinny and blonde, but more importantly, she overcame that image to kick vampire ass. The slayer was decidedly deemed a pretty solid female role model for something popularized by mainstream television.
Feminism wasn’t the only topic of the day, however. One student discussed Batman as an extreme representation of hypermasculinity who tends to equate violence with being a man. That, and maybe steroid use after all the bulk the superhero’s acquired over the years.
During the same session, another speaker addressed the somewhat androgynous image of the emo kid. This speaker deserves props for researching something so fickle in the world of teenage cliques. She concluded that, while the emo subculture allows for somewhat of a break from that Batman-inspired masculinity, only the white boys of suburbia seem to make up this social group.
While it was impossible for me to make it to each presentation, at the end of the day, the message was clear: People need to be careful about what they consume.
There are no clear answers. Watching a Lady Gaga video over 30 Rock isn’t necessarily going to be more empowering, and children who prefer Batman to Chris Carrabba aren’t doomed to a life of violence. The important thing Pop Praxis stressed is that the discussion remains open and that we, as responsible consumers of popular culture, keep a critical eye on it.
Don’t have a date for Valentine’s Day? Pissed off about all the publicity that corporate media give Sarah Palin? Mad that shows like Extreme Makeover: Home Edition still are on TV? Just bored?
No matter the reason for your frustration, you can release some of that energy by attending “Cincinnati’s Largest Snowball Fight!,” planned for Sunday afternoon, Feb. 14.
So this hasn't officially happened to me yet, but my mom's best friend from high school joined when he became single again and he tells her what my status updates are. BTW my mom doesn't really know what "status update" means. She doesn't even understand what Facebook is.
Cincinnati's Guerrilla Queer Bar is about to turn one! That means they're celebrating one whole year of transforming popular straight bars (e.g, Cadillac Ranch, the Pavilion) into a flashmob of "queer dance-love-heaven" for one night, the first Friday of the month.
Scared yet? Don't be. It just takes some practice. Bike polo is one of the world's up-and-coming sports, already highly popular in India and across Europe. According to the League of Bike Polo, U.S. bike polo was born in Seattle in the '90s, when a group of bike messengers were playing with a ball and some homemade mallets.
“This bike polo court is one
the few official bike polo courts in the country,” says Steve Pacella,
Cincinnati Recreation Commission superintendent, according to a press
release. Several other cities across the U.S., including San Francisco, are scheduled to open official bike polo courts later this year.
Aside from the rise in U.S. cycling culture, its popularity is attributed, in part, to its flexibility — courts can be parking lots, roofs or grassy areas, meaning it's easy for urban-dwellers to find spots to pay.
The new bike polo court is located at the end of Joselin Avenue off Clifton Avenue, near the University of Cincinnati, and will be opened and dedicated today at 3 p.m. Councilman Chris Seelbach will be present to celebrate the court's opening, and the ceremony will also feature a bike polo demonstration for those unfamiliar with the game.
The opening of the bike court comes during Bike Month, a country-wide celebration of all things bike. Click here for a comprehensive list of Cincinnati bike happenings.
Do you love the true storytelling style of This American Life and live groups like The Moth and Cincinnati's True Theater? Head down to Below Zero Lounge tonight for Teilen (German for "to share"), a local storytelling night. In honor of Leap Day, tonight's theme will be "leaping out." Enjoy a variety of true stories told without notes, and feel free to share your own five-minute anecdote. Storytelling is one of the oldest human traditions and it's still a great way to connect with others. Doors open at 6 p.m.; the free event starts at 7. Find details here.
Sexy Time Live Band Karaoke continues its weekly mission to make us all feel like Rock Stars. Become a frontman (or woman!), if only for three minutes. Karaoke kicks off at 9 p.m. in Northside Tavern's back room. Check out the group's Facebook page for details and an extensive song selection (start rehearsing now!).