I like to think of myself as a pretty normal person, perfectly capable of interacting with a variety of other humans. I watch bad television and sometimes shop at Wal-Mart, yet I enjoy ethnic food and DIY projects. MFin' renaissance woman. But sometimes, despite a breadth of interests and activities, I cannot deal with people. Enter the Cincinnati Zoo.
This Sunday, instead of burying my head under a pillow until 1 p.m., the boyfriend and I decided to pay a visit to the yearly Zoo Babies attraction. The weather was sunny and warm, and neither of us were hungover - a perfect and rare opportunity to look at little animals.
Nearly anyone can enjoy a trip to the zoo, but I know very well that this type of attraction is particularly appealing to little humans - children. And sometimes children don't know how to walk yet or their biological walking timers shut off and they need assistance, i.e. strollers. I know they're necessary, but some of these devices are more comparable to a slightly smaller Prius. Of course, you have to let kids cut in front of your or you're a total bitch. But, god damnit, I paid $14 to be here and I want to see the manatees, too.
So what are you supposed to do? Wait patiently for the throng of toddlers to peep new baby giraffe, Zuri and then try your damnedest to see past their gooey fingerprints smudging the glass window once it's your turn.
Strollers suck (though they're much more obtrusive at packed festivals - watch out for those bad boys this weekend at The Taste!), but Sunday I found a worse alternative that I thought only existed as a joke in the '90s - baby leashes. I witnessed countless seemingly behaved youngsters strapped in a fuzzy, cuddly, stuffed-animal themed LEASH. How lazy of a parent do you have to be to think the best way to prevent your kid from jumping into the polar bear cave is to attach them to a harness?
However, it's another issue if you're hypoglycemic and hyperactive. A hyper-hypo.
You better believe I gave a big old side-eye to each of these parents. For the love of god, go back to the tricked out, view-obstructing, toe-crushing stroller! Anything is better than a child leash.
Thankfully, dedicated individuals have devoted their time to stop this injustice.
Of course, there's another group of humans that left me mimicking the gorillas:
The I-don't-give-a-fuck crew.
So we're in the Jungle Trails, a peaceful, shaded area with plenty of space and lots of cool creatures. I'm just trying to get a good view of a zebra when I hear a stern, "Excuse me. There is no smoking anywhere in the zoo." Now, this dude was kind of dickish, gettin' up in somebody's bidness while wiping his kid from head to toe with sanitizer. But, holy shit, some bitch was actually smoking a cig by the animals! She quickly extinguished her smoke (possibly into the animal sanctuary - I was trying not to stare) with a raspy "Sah-ree." With that, it was time to escape to the air-conditioned nocturnal animal space.
It was pretty dark and kind of hard to see these critters (hello, nocturnal!) and one particularly grimy child next to me began smacking the window next to me.
"Wake up! Where is it?" he shouted, as a little partner in crime joined him in glass-banging. Half-concerned for the adorable lemur on the other side, half-worried someone might mistake these shit heads as my own offspring, I used my best waitress voice and said, "Hey guys, we shouldn't tap on the glass, OK?" and pointed to the dozens of signs suggesting the same. They continued.
We made our way back outside, to see my most anticipated animals, the bonobos. These apes share 98.7% of DNA with humans and are completely capable of learning many people things, like understanding English and using American Sign Language. (Side note: I'm half-way through Water for Elephants author's latest novel Ape House, in which bonobos play a huge role. It's a great read.) They're sweet.
Once again, I found myself behind a bunch of kids who probably can't pronounce bonobo and probably won't remember seeing them, but I kept my patient pants on. Until grimy kid #1 resurfaced…on the other side of a rope barrier, pounding on the gate. Sure enough, the brat belonged to cig lady who, at this point was enjoying (her fifth?) draft beer.
"C'mon, stop it. You're not supposed to be there," she yawned.
"I wanna see if he'll attack me! I wanna see if he'll attack me!"
This continued for a few minutes. I felt my mouth drop and I turned around to see I wasn't the only one in awe. Anyone who makes me feel like I'd be a competent mother has some serious issues. Maybe child leashes are appropriate in certain situations.
I guess I didn't really learn how to better cope with people, but I did discover this: animals are way cooler than humans, and their babies are cuter.
Deciding which route to take in disciplining children is surely a tough decision. The closest thing I have to spawn is a gang of pets, and they don't know "sit" from "shut the hell up," so I guess training a little human would be even harder.
Today, it seems two extreme concepts of discipline stand out (usually while I'm shopping at a seedy Kroger location): the pulling-the-kid-by-the-arm-while-yelling-at-and-occasionally-spanking-them-onlooking-shoppers-be-damned or the children-deserve-freedom-and-isn't-he-adorable-shit-momma-needs-a-break. Surely, there's a happy medium between publicly berating your 4-year-old and falling into a dopey gaze as you let the kid scale shelves in aisle 6B. Thankfully, that's where Potty Mouth Soap comes in!
Made locally in Maineville, Ohio, creators of Potty Mouth Soap promise effective use of their product will help "nip the lip." The press release, sent to myself at CityBeat's office, is quite well-written, featuring enough alliteration to make Carrie Bradshaw squeal:
"Sick of the sass? Tired of the talking back?…Potty Mouth Soap is an all-natural, safe way to help discipline your kids. What's more, it's fun and effective." Fun? Just tell that to Ralphie.
It was...soap POISONING!
Not sure if it's effective, but hilariously (?) enough, there is a link to this video on Potty Mouth Soap's homepage:
The release continues:
"It's made with all-natural, non-toxic ingredients including coconut oil, palm oil and purified water. So when your little darling dares to sass you can feel completely safe when placing Potty Mouth Soap at the edge of their mouth. And that yucky taste will help nip the lip that you're so fed up with."
I know what you're thinking. "My kids are the worst when we're in public, but how can I keep a bar of soap in my purse?" Potty Mouth Soap gotchu.
Enter Potty Mouth Spray. This portable "Cinnamint" mouth spray if perfect for Krogering. The website warns, "Don't leave home without it!"
On the "How to Use Potty Mouth Soap" tab are four YouTube videos above the text that's printed on the press release. One would think these would be how-to videos on soaping your kids, or examples of children who need to be soaped. The videos include one of a baby "biting" (but really placing her toothless mouth upon) a dog, the infamous "David After the Dentist" and "Charlie Bit Me."
Now in Auto-Tune form
Now, it kind of seems like the soap method might just teach kids to shove gross things in people's mouths when they say something they don't like, but I'm no parent. I guess I've come across some 9-year-olds who might deserve to get soaped, but a freaking baby? They don't even know how to make words yet! And seriously, no person should ever be accountable for what they say when high, after the dentist or otherwise.
"Gotta teach 'em young," you say? "This is probably better than the belt method." Well, bars and spray are $3-$5 a pop and include a sticker reward chart for positive behavior.
No gold star for you!
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.
Drop those pickles and ice cream, ladies! Becoming Mom Spa in Mason is looking for the hottest pregnant gut in the Tristate for its Beautiful Belly Contest.
Knocked up chicks are encouraged to send in a photo of their lovely lady lumps, which will be displayed on the spa's Facebook page for public voting. Because that doesn't sound like it could go horrifyingly wrong.
For every vote on the photos, Becoming Mom will donate $1 to the March of Dimes. Prizes for top-voted bellies include gift certificates to The Polo Grille, Buy Buy Baby, Radiant Hair Removal (which you should probably think about before you submit a photo...) and other businesses. Becoming Mom will also crown Most Creative Belly Shot, Belly Shot that Best Represents the Journey to Motherhood and Most Beautiful Belly with $100 a pop.
Before MomsLikeMe.com hijacks this shit, I want to be clear. Being pregnant is totally cool (as long as you aren't a white trash idiot who learned the hard way that a pregnancy pact doesn't come with an MTV contract). I mean, you and a dude made a person! Holy shit, that's like one of the coolest things humans can do. And it's particularly special for women, because they get to let the thing simmer in 'em, pop it out and then feed it with milk their own bodies produce. That's hella eco-friendly. Pregnant women even look cool most of the time.
Terrifying other times.
Motherhood should totally be celebrated. I don't think a pregnant woman needs to hide her belly under a tent dress by any means, but do you really have to go to Sears, strip down and get a portrait of yourself covering up your boobs and vag like you're some kind of bloated Venus? No amount of retouching in Photoshop is going to make you feel like you look like Demi.
Not pictured: a normal pregnant person
But I know what you're thinking. You're going the tasteful route: planning on the denim/white oxford ensemble?
What a unique idea!
And let's think about who's truly affected by a contest like this: the little tadpole inside. How's Junior gonna feel when he finds out mom whored him out on Facebook before he was even born? All this for a couple bones and some Greater's gift cards. It's bad enough you picked the kid's name off a Web site, then tweaked it to end with "-ayden."
But if you disagree, send your belly shot to firstname.lastname@example.org by April 22. Winners will be announced on - wait for it - Mothers Day. Aw!
This is the caliber of photo Becoming Mom is looking for, so, preggy ladies, take note:
Mariah Carey continues to set the bar high:
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.
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.
According to NASA's Web site "This year's Leonid meteor shower peaks on Tuesday, Nov. 17th. If forecasters are correct, the shower should produce a mild but pretty sprinkling of meteors over North America followed by a more intense outburst over Asia. The phase of the Moon will be new, setting the stage for what could be one of the best Leonid showers in years."
Leonids, who grab their name from their location in the Leo constellation, are bits of debris from the Tempel-Tuttle comet.
And while the area around Asia might be the best place to view the shower (two of the streams will be crossing over Indonesia and China), you'll still be able to see the action in North America.
According to CNN, "The first stream will cross over Earth about 4 a.m. ET. That stream
should produce about two or three dozen meteors per hour over North
So in the wee hours of Tuesday morning, experts recommend getting as far away from city lights as possible to view the shower. The less artificial light, the brighter the meteors will be. Also, the view is better the higher up you get. Altitude will reduce the glare of the moon.
Moby-Dick, Herman Melville's classic American novel, celebrates its 156th birthday Saturday at Gallerie Zaum in Newport with a 24-hour marathon reading in response to the success of the gallery's recent art exhibit, Chasing the Whale in Northern Kentucky: Local Artists Respond to Moby-Dick.
The 24-hour reading will be split between Saturday (Nov. 14) and Sunday (Nov. 15), with sessions from 9 a.m.-9 p.m. each day. Readers will be given 20-minute spots. They can read from their own copies of Moby-Dick or read from the gallery's "official" copy, the Longman Critical Edition (paperback, 2007), which features illustrations from George Klauba and Kathleen Piercefield, who both have work in Chasing the Whale.
This will be the first time the book will be read in its entirety in the presence of an art exhibit that interprets the novel. The artwork from Chasing the Whale has been extended and is still on view. It features prints and paintings, quilts and body casts, drawings and sculptures, a Moby-Dick tea set, and a documentary film.As of today, a few 20-minute reading spots are left for Sunday. Sign up to read here. And read Tamera Lenz Muente's review of the exhibit here.
Most of us can agree that this Issue 9 business has become a total mess. If passed, this charter amendment won’t necessarily stop the streetcar line from being constructed, but it will force a vote before city leaders can spend money on it. It will also force votes on all other rail spending — including regional high-speed trains that Barack Obama wants built. Issue 9 is anti-Obama!
As someone who was born and raised in Cincinnati, I naturally spent my whole life wanting to get the hell out of here.
I hated that there was nothing to do on Friday nights except go to the movies, bake cookies or eat lettuce wraps at PF Changs. I hated the schizo weather (70 and sunny one day, 30 and snowing the next: just another week in Ohio). I hated the predominantly conservative mindset, the maddening monotonity of the suburbs, the city’s aversion to all things new and different. I hated that you only had to drive 10 minutes in any direction to land in a sea of cornfields. And I hated Cincinnati’s dangerous proximity to Kentucky, where odious mullets and high-waisted denim shorts continue their ruthless and tyrannical reign.
In short, I pretty much spent my entire life blaming my unfortunate geographic placement for all my problems. So when it came time for college applications, it was a no-brainer: I submitted my test scores, sappy personal essays and record of every nap I took in calculus to seven out-of-state schools — and just one in-state school.