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by Kelsey Kennedy 02.12.2014
Posted In: Commentary, Culture at 03:12 PM | Permalink | Comments (11)
 
 
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How to Become a Cincinnatian, for Non-Natives

They say you move to Cincinnati and put on a pair of goggles — the longer you stay, the harder it is to take them off. And why would you want to? I’ve lived here for five years and still manage to fall deeper in love with this city every day. For all you newcomers, here are some necessary guidelines for your initiation into the greatest city in the Midwest.

1. Pick a chili, not a side. The East side/West side rivalry is deeply rooted in competitive turf wars and stubborn rationalizations. When brought up in conversation, it’s usually best to remain indifferent and let your eyes glaze over until the fighting stops.

2. Become a regular at (at least) one bar in Over-the-Rhine. Find your favorite bartender at Neon’s and dance to the ‘8os music at Japp’s on a Saturday night. Discover new music at MOTR or wind down with some jazz at 1215 Wine Bar.

3. Understand that high schools — and the culture surrounding them — are really important here. “Are you from around here?” is almost always followed by, “So what high school did you go to?” Cincinnatians stick to their alma maters like glitter on glue, and everyone has a reputation.

4. See The Cincy Brass play at Mr. Pitiful’s before you die (or move). Request the song “Let Me Clear My Throat” by DJ Kool. Gyrate on everyone.

5. Get to know Kentucky. Bounce around the Levee and Mainstrasse. End your night with a cheesy goetta omelet at the Anchor Grill. Trust me on this one.

6. Cincinnati has the second largest Oktoberfest in the world (The WORLD!) second only to Munich. Dress like a German, drink like a German, eat like a German.

7. Develop a severe case of road rage while driving on I-75. Perfect the ability to stare someone down after cutting you off.

8. Vote. Get involved with this city’s politics. Picket City Hall or write a letter to an editor. Cincinnati had a record-breaking low voter turnout in the 2013 mayoral election — make your voice heard.

9. Give back to your neighborhood. Volunteer at the Freestore Foodbank or tutor kids at Wordplay Cincy. Teach an art class or buy someone an umbrella on a rainy day. Start a collaborative effort to make this city the best it can be.

10. Master the Metro and make friends with the drivers. Sit up front and strike up a conversation with a stranger. Try not to fall when the metro slides down one of Cincinnati’s many 90-degree angles.

11. Appreciate Cincinnati sports. Tailgate at a Bengal’s game, cheer on the Cyclones and pledge your allegiance to Brandon Phillips’ smile.

12. EAT ALL THE GOETTA. And LaRosa’s. And Graeter’s. Now start training for the Flying Pig.

13. Find your favorite city park with your favorite view of the skyline against Kentucky. Feel safe tucked away in the hills. Ponder about the meaning of life.

14. Roll your windows down and go 10 miles over the speed limit on the Roebling Bridge. Listen to the whirring sound. Just do it.

15. Develop a deep love for all things Cincinnati and defend your city when people talk shit. Recognize that you are a part of something larger than yourself — that Cincinnati isn’t just the Queen City — it’s a community and a network and a lineage of diverse Midwesterners who all contribute to making this place a force to be reckoned with.

Oh, and read CityBeat.

 
 
by Maija Zummo 02.12.2014
at 03:11 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Free HIV Testing on Valentine's Day

Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio hosts a free HIV testing event at Below Zero

Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio (PPSWO) Region’s HIV Prevention Project has teamed with the Gay & Lesbian Community Center of Greater Cincinnati and the Imperial Sovereign Queen City Court of the Buckeye Empire (ISQCCBE) for a free HIV testing event from 7-10 p.m. on Valentine's Day at Below Zero Lounge (1122 Walnut St., Over-the-Rhine).

The testing event will also have a charity-sponsored Drag Show, raffles and other activities. And the HIV Prevention Project will be on hand to provide materials on HIV and STDs.


 
 
by Jac Kern 02.12.2014
Posted In: TV/Celebrity at 01:05 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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I Just Can't Get Enough

Jac's roundup of pop culture news and Internet findings

Dumb Starbucks, we hardly knew you!

The “parody” coffee shop, which mimicked the real Starbucks' name, logo, menu (Dumb Frappuccino, Dumb Espresso, served in Dumb Tall, Dumb Grande or Dumb Venti), everything — even font — opened in L.A. Friday only to be shut down by the Los Angeles Health Department Monday. Forbes posted Dumb Starbucks’ “frequently asked questions,” which explains that by adding the word “dumb,” it’s protected by parody law. Therefore the “coffee shop” was actually recognized as an art gallery and the coffee, art. Guests, who lined up out the door and around the strip mall where Dumb Starbucks set up shop, were treated to friendly service and free coffee and pastries (there were even CDs for sale at checkout, including a “Dumb” Norah Jones album). The real Starbucks acknowledged the parody shop, explaining the two had no connection and they were pursuing legal action.

Word about the stunt (which it obviously was, dummies) spread across the Internet via various comedians’ Twitters, so some it was no surprise that a comic was at the helm. Nathan Fielder, deadpan genius with the Comedy Central show in which he “helps” struggling business by offering ridiculous ideas (among other meta satirical “pranks”), revealed himself as the owner with this video:

Now I really can’t wait for the next season of Nathan For You.

Some big changes are happening to NBC’s long-running late-night shows, and you can read all about them in this week’s TV column. After some sad goodbyes (Jay Leno’s final episode of Tonight, Jimmy Fallon’s last time hosting Late Night and Seth Meyer’s final Weekend Update segment), there’s a lot to look forward to. Fallon brings house band The Roots and announcer/sidekick Steve Higgins with him — hopefully the same goes for all the celebrity drinking games and generally bizarre bits and skits. Like this gem:

Fallon’s first week of guests includes Michelle Obama and Justin Timberlake, so fingers crossed for another Evolution of Mom Dancing and History of Rap.

As for Late Night, Seth Meyers starts his run Monday, Feb. 17 and in a total surprise announcement, Meyer’s old SNL buddy and modern comedic god Fred Armisen will be the show’s band leader.

The Olympics have taken over NBC (miss you, Parks and Rec) and oh, what a hot mess they’ve been! Plumbing problems and strange bathroom setups in the Sochi hotels, the Olympic rings mega-fail during the opening ceremony, the fact that it’s actually too warm for any of these damn outdoor winter sports — the list goes on. C’mon, Russia, you can’t even get winter right? At least we’ll always have this:

I'm not ashamed to admit VH1's Couples Therapy is one of my favorite shows on right now. With The Real L Word disappearing without a trace, I am finally able to get my Whitney-Sada fix (the couple is featured on Therapy), plus Jon Gosselin is apparently dating another mega-bitch and "Teen Mom" Farrah Abraham is equally intriguing and frustrating and alienesque. But the true star of the show is Ghostface Killah's girl, Kelsey Nykole...'s hair.

                                               #flawless

Remember Celebrity Death Match? The MTV claymation classic pitted musicians, actors and other famous people in pop culture or the news against each other in an over-the-top gruesome fight to the death. Showdowns included Marilyn Manson v. Charles Manson, Mariah Carey v. Jim Carrey (featuring Drew Carey) and Lil’ Kim v. Little Richard. Well, a few years after its 1998 debut, Fox presented a toned-down real-life version with Celebrity Boxing, which went down as one of TV Guide’s worst shows of all time. Has-beens like Danny Bonaduce and Barry Williams (of The Partridge Family and The Brady Bunch, respectively) took to the ring in what usually just a really sad battle. Only two episodes aired. So how do you take a bad idea like Celebrity Boxing to another level of shame? Add in the man at the center of one of the most controversial murder trials in recent years!

George Zimmerman was set to box rapper DMX in a televised match, but both DMX and boxing promoter Damon Feldman have backed out, presumably after thinking about it for three seconds. The fight is still on for now and will be broadcast from a secret location this March, Zimmerman just needs an opponent. Any takers?

In completely unrelated news, Brooklyn Nine-Nine co-stars Andy Samberg and Chelsea Peretti used to be childhood friends.

 
 
by Kelsey Kennedy 02.10.2014
Posted In: TV/Celebrity at 10:44 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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'Downton Abbey' Season Four, Episode Six

Bringing the Latest in Uppity British Television

Upstairs:

EDITH IS PREGNANT AND SHE’S KEEPING THE BABY, PEOPLE. But her significant other, Michael Gregson, is still mysteriously missing. If he ends up dead, the Grantham spawn will officially be cursed with forever losing their loved ones in freak accidents.

Robert “went to America” (aka filming The Monuments Men) while Rose sat in a canoe with Jack Ross, the only reoccurring black male character. This plot-line feels very forced to me. Instead of focusing on the romance of her whirlwind relationship, the show focuses more on the scandal of it all.

The Dowager Countess fell ill with bronchitis, and her frenemy/nemesis Isobel Crawley nursed her back to health. While Violet ran a fever and cursed at her caretaker, Isobel smirked at the fact that she will be able to say she saved Violet’s life. By the end of this week’s show, they were playing cards like old friends.

Lady Mary — who has never let a speck of dirt touch her porcelain skin — had a mud fight with Charles Blake. Since every man she interacts with is a potential suitor, this was an interesting scene. Because Blake is actively trying to dismember her estate farm by farm, he is not exactly her friend. Although, this could create some perfectly awkward sexual tension. They share a special moment — and by which I mean they looked at each other five seconds longer than normal — until they were interrupted by Ivy.

Downstairs:

Not too much is happening downstairs this week, but the servants take part in their usual hijinks.

While Daisy and Ivy bickered over Alfred’s return visit, Mrs. Hughes and Carson tried to keep the hormones at bay. Which never works.

Anna’s rapist, Mr. Green, ominously returned to Downton just as pompous as ever. His comments to Mrs. Hughes blaming Anna for the assault were eerie and uncomfortable. Mr. Bates has confirmed his suspicions about who attacked and raped his wife after he sees Anna reaction to Mr. Green’s presence.

We are all scared as to what he will do next.

“I’m married, I know everything.” – Lady Mary

 
 
by Amber Hemmerle 02.07.2014
at 01:29 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Trending Topics

Cincinnati's most buzzworthy tweets of the week

Each week our intern Amber will be exploring what Cincinnatians are interested in by scouring the local Twitter trends and reporting on what she’s found. From serious tweets to goofy hashtags, she’ll highlight what Cincy’s been buzzing about. So get to tweeting, folks. 

#PunxsuatawneyPhil

So it’s official: There will, in fact, be six more weeks of winter, according to Phil, the Groundhog’s Day spokes-rodent. For one, I never knew the groundhog had a name! He has even been on The Oprah Winfrey Show, but most people in Cincinnati are probably ready to go find and kill him after the weather we've endured. I am cool with winter and all, but it’s really sad when 30 degrees feels warm. As long as these six weeks don’t include another polar vortex, I think we’ll survive.

#WorldCancerDay

I know it seems like every day is a day for something. I could probably live without Ice Cream Day or Chocolate Pudding Day (lord knows my thighs could), but this day of awareness, on Feb. 4, is one I can deal with. On World Cancer Day, people are asked to spread awareness and remember those who passed away fighting cancer or currently dealing with cancer. @TCSociety made a good point: “Remember that a moment of awkwardness could save a lifetime! Talk about Testicular Cancer.” Talk about breast cancer, pancreatic cancer, skin cancer, too, and go get checked, then get re-checked. It could save your life!

#AddInMyPantsToAFilm

Really? I don’t know if it’s sad or just funny that this was trending at #3 in the USA and #2 in Cincinnati this week. How these things get started and why so many people actually do it, I’ll never know. It does make for some comic relief at 3:30 p.m. on a Tuesday afternoon. Here were some that actually made me chuckle:

Up! In My Pants
Great Expectations
In My Pants
The Dark Knight Rises In My Pants
Clueless In My Pants
A Series of Unfortunate Events In My Pants

#CreationDebate

Probably the eternal debate: Evolution vs. Creation. Honestly, I don’t care what you believe in. I just think it’s fascinating that the creation debate was not only trending in Cincinnati but also trending worldwide. The Bill Nye-Ken Ham showdown held in the Tri-state area accumulated 103,000 tweets just minutes following the debate. All this attention was focused on these two men at the Creation Museum, which locals all have access to every day. At the end of the debate, I’m sure not many people’s beliefs were changed and that’s OK. @ScienceGroen tweeted, “It doesn’t matter if you change your mind after the #creationdebate. The process of thinking about the universe is what matters.” I think he is right. People were interacting all over the nation because of this one event here and that is really cool. Maybe you learned something, maybe you didn’t, but I bet it had you thinking.

DMX

If you haven’t heard, the rapper DMX was selected out of 15,000 submissions to take on George Zimmerman in a "celebrity" boxing match. Nothing has been made official yet, but the announcement was made on what would have been Trayvon Martin’s 19th birthday. I wonder if this could help the victim’s family or if it would just make the mourning process even harder for them. And why is Zimmerman even being considered a “celebrity?” The man killed someone. Is it just weird that I think he should not be capitalizing on all of it? I vote for Zimmerman and Casey Anthony to box in a fight to the death.

#HottestCollegeInAmerica

The Cincinnati Bearcats beat the University of Connecticut on Thursday 63-58, which makes it their 15th straight win. I don’t know anything about basketball, so I’ll just say there was a lot of running, dribbling and shooting. The team is rising in the ranks of its division and momentum is high. School spirit is what being in college is all about, besides the whole degree thing. Whether you are a student, faculty member, staff member, alumni or just a fan, a sense of pride is among us. You don’t have to know anything about basketball to enjoy seeing a local team make sports headlines. Keep it up, fellas!

Netflix

I seriously couldn’t figure out why Netflix was trending, but as I began scrolling through all the tweets, I noticed something. There were a lot of single people dwelling on the fact that Netflix would be their only date on Valentine’s Day. There is nothing wrong with watching Netflix on Valentine’s Day — hell, that’s probably what I will be doing with a bottle of bourbon. Just remember, it’s only one day, it will be over soon and then it’s on to the next irrelevant holiday. Plus, if you don't have a date, you don’t have to buy anyone else a gift and you can buy yourself all the half-off chocolate you want the next day. If you are hung up on the fact that Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching and Netflix isn’t an acceptable date for you, here are a few single-friendly events to treat yourself to:

Pretty in Pink at The Esquire

A classic '80s night, what’s not to love? Dress up in your favorite pink prom dress or tuxedo and there will be a costume contest before the show! $7-$9.75. 10:30 p.m. at Esquire Theater.

Southgate House Revival

Three shows take place under one roof: Elk Creek at 9 p.m. in the Sanctuary, Hank Erwin at 9:30 p.m. in the Lounge and Hot For Alice at 10 p.m. in the Revival Room. Get some friends together for some live music and cheap drinks.

Rosencrantz and Guildenstein Are Dead

The story of “Hamlet” told from the perspective of these two quirky characters. $22-$35. 7:30 p.m. at Cincinnati Shakespeare Company.

Other things that were trending: Phillip Seymour Hoffman, The Superbowl, #Bearcats, #PLL, #LHHNY, Sochi and The Olympics.

 
 
by Jac Kern 02.07.2014
Posted In: Eats, Events, Drinking, Fun at 01:09 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Your Weekend To Do List: 2/7-2/9

Cincinnati Beer Week is in full effect, bringing craft beer tastings, pairings and brewery nights to bars and restaurants across the city through Feb. 13 (followed by the popular Cincy Winter Beerfest Feb. 14-15). Go here for the week’s highlights and find all of today’s CBW events here.

Balls Around the Block is a bar crawl with a mission: To expose more locals to the ever-changing downtown landscape by visiting several different local establishments in one night, all while raising money for a good cause. Twelve groups of 25 each begin at a different bar on the same block (so as not to overwhelm one establishment all at once) and continue progressing around to bars like Madonna’s, Rock Bottom Brewery, Igby’s and Nicholson’s.

It’s $35 to participate, with food and drink specials along the way. This year’s crawl benefits Fido Field, the privately funded off-leash dog area located at 630 Eggleston Ave. BATB hopes to raise $12,000 this year for the continued construction of Fido Field — the group raised $10,000 in 2013. Go here for more information, to make donations and to join a group for the crawl.

Cincy Blues Society’s annual Winter Blue Fest kicks off Friday at The Phoenix. More than 25 local Blues acts perform through Saturday including headliners Tinsley Ellis and Janiva Magness. Read more here.

Jungle Jim’s Big Cheese Fest is now sold out, but those with tickets are in for a day full delicious dairy from more than 80 cheese companies. More than 40 booths will feature varieties of local, artisan and international cheeses, charcuterie, breads, spreads and more. Beer and wine pairing options available at additional cost. The festival takes over Jungle Jim’s Oscar Event Center from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday. The Big Cheese Kick-Off Party (also sold out) is 7-10 p.m. Friday.

For more art openings, parties and other stuff to do this weekend, check out our To Do picks, full calendar and Rick Pender’s Stage Door for weekend theater offerings.

 
 
by Jessica Baltzersen 02.06.2014
at 02:42 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)
 
 
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Own a Piece of FB's

Downtown bar auctioning off interior decor, artwork and other items

The trippy, Alice in Wonderland inspired themed bar FB’s is temporarily closed down for remodeling and the revamping of its image.

In the mean time, the owners are auctioning off their dramatic and glamorous interior décor and artwork. Now’s your chance to own that bar stool you fell off of, the mirror you checked yourself out in a million times (Hey, your soul-mate could have been there right?) and that chair you nearly passed out in while the room spun around.

If you’re having a hard time remembering all of the interior accents due to your blurred vision at the time, you can check them out at Everything But the House.

A preview will be held 1-4 p.m. this Sunday, at FB's, 126 W. Sixth St., Downtown. Eighty percent of the proceeds will be donated to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

Some of the items for sale include gaudy chandeliers and ornate mirrors, brewery neon signs, one-of-a-kind Andrew Van Sickle artwork and their famous signature yellow vinyl couch that you probably made-out with someone on.

Gift certificates from locally owned downtown restaurants are also be available for bidding. Don’t miss your chance to fall down the rabbit hole one last time, before everything is gone.

The online biding will end on 8 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 11.

 
 
by Brian Baker 02.05.2014
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
Posted In: TV/Celebrity, Music, Movies at 12:05 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
web-blog-ijustcantgetenough-2

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?