Monday, December 31, 2007

New Year's Resolutions

I thought it appropriate to offer an open thread regarding New Year's resolutions. I'm curious as to what this blog's readers hope to do/accomplish in 2008 (apart, of course, from showering Brian with fame and fortune).

My own resolution: Be more connected and involved in the community. I mentioned in my first post that I moved to Cincinnati in 2000; I did so in order to begin law school. Even though I've been out of school for over four years now (with one of those years spent working for a federal judge in West Virginia), I've not broken out of some (bad) student lifestyles, and still live almost as if I'm a temporary resident. So...I'm going to join the Downtown Residents Council. I'll be more active in the bar association and other professional organizations. Maybe I'll even join a church (that's a whole other discussion thread, though).

And, of course, I'll lose some weight.

What about you?


Today is a sad day for Cincinnati journalism and civics. After the last paper hits newsstands today, Cincinnati will be a 1 paper town. We are losing a voice for the City. News gathering will shrink. Information on our government, our society, and our culture will diminish with the death of the Cincinnati Post.

One small light comes from a story the Cincinnati Post is had on Saturday that will continue on with a new WCPO partnership.

'Team Lachey' to Perform on Fountain Square NYE

In a classy move, "Team Lachey" choir will open the Fountain Square New Year's Eve event.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Getting Home Safely New Year's Eve

Once again, free cab rides will be available inside the 275 loop on New Year's Eve. Call 513-768-FREE.

The last way you want to begin the new year is by being in hospital after wrapping your car around a telephone pole. Or worse yet, by putting someone else in the hospital.

Books of 2007 -- For What Its Worth

Not that anyone really cares what a gay lawyer and writer in his 50’s in a middling town in the Midwest thinks were some of the best books published in 2007, but since everyone else is coming out with “best of” lists here at the end of 2007, I thought I would throw my list out there as well. These may not be the best books published in 2007, because with a couple of exceptions, all books I read this year were either written in English or translated to English. Therefore, I begin with the huge caveat that there were no doubt many great books published in other languages in the past year. I also acknowledge that this list is not representative of the demographic face of America, particularly when it comes to gender. However, in putting my list of ten (ok, really eleven) books together, I did not say to myself I need 50% men and 50% women (5 male/5 female authors), 78% white (7.8 white authors), 9% black (.9 black author), 5-7% gay and lesbian (an author who was about half gay or lesbian, I suppose), 13 % latin / Hispanic (1.3 latin / Hispanic authors --- well you get the picture. I also did not include Harry Potter or any of the great children and young adult novels that were written this year, most notably Hero by Perry Moore. Instead, I simply put together a list of the books that were published in the last year that I enjoyed a lot. I had to make some very difficult exclusions, in that there were a lot of great books published last year.

So here goes in alphabetical order:

Andre Acimen
Call Me By Your Name

A beautiful and passionate gay coming-of-age tale set in Italy – a fine follow up to the Egyptian born Acimen’s Out of Egypt.

Junot Diaz
The Brief Wondrous Life Of Oscar Wao

Another fine younger writer trying to make sense of the cultural stew that 21st century American has become despite the rantings of Lou Dobbs.

"You really want to know what being an X-Man feels like? Just be a smart bookish boy of color in a contemporary U.S. ghetto," Díaz writes. "Mamma mia! Like having bat wings or a pair of tentacles growing out of your chest."

Like his previous book Drown, Diaz understands that geeks rule. Perhaps the best novel of 2007.

Susan Faludi
The Terror Dream: Fear and Fantasy in Post 9-11 America

One of our finest social observers and commentators writing about how all the hooey about how 9/11 changed us all forever is just that --- hooey. Yet Faludi observes how this event rekindled some ancient myths about the role of men as protector and what happens when the myth is shattered – when men don’t protect.

Joshua Ferris
Then We Came To The End

Simply a funny novel about the arrogance and insecurity in work that is at the heart of contemporary corporate America --- in this case at an ad agency where people are being shitcanned.

Christopher Hitchens
God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything (or published in the UK as God Is Not Great: The Case Against Religion)

Agree or disagree with Hitch about religion or the divine, this is a challenging and brilliantly argued manifesto about the poisonous history of religion and things done in the name of the divine. In an election year where a central question seems to be who is religious enough to lead this secular nation (please, don't tell me this is a christian nation -- we have no state religion ---- yet), this book is timely.

Denis Johnson
Tree Of Smoke

My pick for novel of the year --- a magnificent Vietnam story about war and faith and love and loss and lost faith.

"Once upon a time there was a war . . . and a young American who thought of himself as the Quiet American and the Ugly American, and who wished to be neither, who wanted instead to be the Wise American, or the Good American, but who eventually came to witness himself as the Real American and finally as simply the Fucking American. That’s me."

“She had nothing in this world but her two hands and her crazy love for Jesus, who seemed, for his part, never to have heard of her.”

Mildred Armstrong Kalish
Little Heathens: Hard Times and High Spirits On An Iowa Farm During The Great Depression

Mrs. Kalish is in her 80’s and has a story to tell --- settle in for a joyous ride.

Alex Ross
The Rest Is Noise

I have been a fan of Alex Ross for years through his New Yorker reviews and his blog, but Ross has done us all a favor in presenting the history of 20th century classical music in a manner that is enlightening and fascinating. This book seems to be on everyone’s top ten list.

Colm Toibin
Mothers and Sons

There are very few writers working today with Toibin’s interior and introspective voice. It was awesomely displayed in his Jamesian turn in The Master and it is put to great use in this magnificent collection of stories.

Jeffrey Toobin
The Nine

Want to understand the importance of the conservative shift in the Supreme Court and how nine unelected judges decided the 2000 election and put W in power, then read this book by one of the most astute court observers in the country.

Tim Wiener
Legacy Of Ashes

What Toobin does for the Supreme Court, Wiener does for the history of the CIA. A marvelous read that leaves you with an understanding of what it means to say that the more things change the more they stay the same.

I look forward to reading additions and corrections in the Comments. Everyone party safely and let's hope (and pray, if you do) for a good 2008.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Noir Year's Eve at Know Theatre

If you are still looking for something to do on New Year's Eve, consider Noir Year's Eve at Know Theatre. The Know's party last NYE was a smash, so buy your ticket before they sell out.


I actually agree with Leslie Ghiz on John Cranley's effort to bail out the Parkland Theater with $50,000 of the city's money. I like the idea of local movie theaters providing a nice entertainment value, but what makes this more of a priority than reopening the Emory Theater? Granted, $50,000 isn't even close to enough money to get the Emery going again, but it has far more historical value than the Parkland Theater. When we are talking about for profit entities getting city funds, how should the city pick and choose which project gets the money, especially over non-profits? How many city residents are likely to take advantage on an improved Parkland Theater? Would it be more than the number for a project like the Emery Theater, or any other project that someone may be thinking about? Should the economic impact of the project outweigh other factors? How do we set priorities?

Baker Working For Berding

For political insiders it's good to see Shawn Baker working at city hall. Now we can hope Shawn can help pull Berding away from the dark side (Fiscal Five), and back in line with the City Dems.

Friday, December 28, 2007

A Mole Hill

Can someone explain to me how red-light cameras warrent 8,000 signatures and countless hours and money to try and prevent? It is getting very unseemly for Chris Smitherman and Chris Finney hanging out together like Batman and Robin. I didn't think it is possible for two extremists to become worse by teaming up in the most unholiest of alliances.

Honestly, I get why Finney is against the red-light cameras. His anti-government stance is clear. Smitherman is acting more loony on this one than usual. What makes this an issue for the NAACP? The anti-jail-tax effort had a small sense of relevance to the NAACP, but red-light cameras is about as relevant as parking enforcement. Is Chris up for a boycott of driving? The environmental movement might support things there.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Harris Running for County Commission

CityBeat's Kevin Osborne is reporting that Greg Harris is running for County Commissioner against Pat DeWine.

UPDATE: I guess this means that John Cranley is not running?

2007 Election Follow-Up

In case you missed it, GetCincy has a nice breakdown of the council race by ward. Knowing how each ward voted helps drive future campaign strategies. Cincinnati this year was far less varied as I would have thought, but you can still see the voting trends at work.

County Commission Race About To Start

At the Enquirer's Politics blog, Jessica Brown lists those who have picked up petitions for the two Hamilton County Commission seats up for grabs in 2008. Todd Portune and Pat DeWine have, of course, picked up petitions in efforts to retain their own seats. For the Republicans, Jim Weidman, Charles Winburn, and Ed Rothenberg picked up petitions; attorney Tim Deardorff picked them up for someone else (no word on who). Vlasta Molak picked up petitions as well; I don't know her party affiliation, though.

On Sunday, activist and blogger Nate Livingston announced that he's considering throwing his hat in the ring, but hasn't decided whether to do so as a Republican or an independent.

Picking up petitions is just a necessary first step to running. Completed petitions to be included on the March 4 primary ballot aren't due until January 4.

OSU Students Prefer To Be Above The Law

The Enquirer prints an AP story that reports that some OSU students who were arrested for underage drinking are upset that they were arrested for committing a crime.

For illegally sipping beer on the morning of an Ohio State University football
game - she's 19 in a state where the legal limit is 21 - [Chelsea] Krueger was
handcuffed, loaded in a police van and hauled off to jail for six hours.

Her sentence, following a guilty plea: a $50 fine.

The article doesn't mention the possible penalties. In Ohio, underage consumption is a first-degree misdemeanor. That means the possibility of 180 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Apparently, Chelsea was upset about the fact that she was locked up with the common riffraff during her quarter-day period of dentention (presumably, the time it took for her to be processed and her spoil-her-rotten parents to post bond):

As prostitutes ran their fingers through Krueger's hair and told her how pretty she was, she couldn't help question her situation. "They're putting the wrong students in jail," said the sophomore from Westchester, N.Y. "The people who should be more harshly punished are the ones putting themselves in dangerous situations."

First of all, the story about the prostitutes running their fingers through Krueger's hair sounds more than a bit apocryphal.

But Chelsea's defense is the one that lots of criminal defendants offer: go catch the "real" criminals. Lawyers and police officers hear it every day. People at traffic stops tell police to go catch people committing more serious offenses. Some people caught possessing drugs (from marijuana to heroin) will say that their crimes are nonviolent, and thus not worthy of prosecution. Some of the prostitutes who touched Chelsea would probably tell you that they're not hurting anyone, and that they just offer a service to men who want to make use of it (and some would claim that they actually save marriages in the process).

The point is: if you break the law, you run the risk of being punished for it. It doesn't matter if you're an indigent defendant caught with less than a gram of crack (for which you could serve twelve months in prison), or a spoiled rich brat from Westchester getting tanked before the Buckeyes game. If you don't want other people (police, prosecutors, and judges) to have the power to alter the course of your life, don't give them that power.

The go-catch-the-real-criminals defense almost never works. And neither does whining.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Jesus' Birth Was Virginal, Not Premature (Warning: Grinch-Like Post Ahead)

Every year, we're told by our various media outlets of a baby Jesus figure being stolen from a nativity scene. This year, we heard that same old news at least twice: once when it happened in Mason, and once when a Cincinnati attorney donated a replacement Jesus for a suburban Miami creche. (I'm not sure why he didn't just replace the Mason Jesus and save himself a long-distance phone bill. I suppose he wouldn't have gotten himself on CNN for doing that.)

I'm sick of hearing these stories.

Blaming the victim is usually wrong. But these nativity-scene owners are at least partially to blame for the kidnapping of Jesus. If they had just held to tradition, baby Jesus might still be safe and sound. It always used to be the case that the baby Jesus figurine/statue/what-have-you wasn't placed in the nativity scene until Christmas Eve. Until then, the manger sat empty. Tradition is a good thing a lot of the time. Displaying a completed nativity scene prior to Christmas Eve is (in my opinion) one more symptom of a general failure to remember the "reason for the season." (The Miami Jesus was stolen sometime before December 5, for you-know-who's sake.) The act of laying the Jesus in a manger on the night before Christmas helps to focus our attention on the religious nature of the holiday. A nativity scene shouldn't be an accessory to a Christmas tree and plastic reindeer (or worse yet, one of those awful inflatable globes with a scene inside).

In fact, every time I drive past a nativity scene with a prematurely-displayed Mary's child, I fantasize about stealing it, only to surreptiously return it late on Christmas Eve. Stealth, however, has never been one of my gifts, so I have no doubt that I'd be caught either taking Jesus or giving him back. With my luck, I'd probably be tased before being taken into custody.

Merry Christmas, everyone.

Happy Festivus, et al

Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, and a belated Joyous Solstice to you!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Food, Glorious Food

The only thing new in this article on the effort to get a full service grocery store in Downtown are the quotes from Council member Roxanne Qualls.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Bearcats 31, Southern Miss. 21

O Cincinnati magic name
I proudly to the world proclaim
No sweeter name e'er charmed my ear
None to my heart was e'er so dear;
A fountain of eternal youth,
A tower of strength, a rock of truth.

Varsity, dear varsity
Thy loyal children we will be,
Thy loyal, loyal children we will be!

The Bearcats won their bowl game for their first ten-win season in 56 years; Team Lachey came through Thursday night; can the Bengals make it a Cincinnati trifecta on Sunday?

Friday, December 21, 2007

New Year's Eve: Where Are You Going?

CityBeat has their guide (pdf) to what is happening on New Year's this year, and Zipscene's NYE page has some of the bars with deals.

The Know Theatre has announced their NYE bash as well.

CSO is having their annual NYE Concert.

CSL is having a party at the 20th Century.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Cincinnati Victorious

That's something you haven't heard much this year.

OK. I'll admit it. I watched the finale of "Singing With the Stars," or whatever it's called. It was pretty good TV. And Nick Lachey's team won. The Enquirer's early coverage is here.

I'm pretty sure that a lot of people assumed Patti LaBelle's team would win. I know I did. I don't mean any disrespect to Lachey by that--say what you will about boy bands like 98 Degrees, but at the end of the day, Nick's a very talented singer. But Patti LaBelle is . . . well, Patti LaBelle. Lachey's choir, though, really put it together, from what I could tell by the live performances tonight and the clips from the past few days. (The vocal rendition the choir did of Flight of the Bumblebee was particularly imnpressive, I thought.)

In fact, Tracy Morgan (who NBC had announce the winner, in order to promote his new movie--yeah, that's right, now he's got his own movie) was so sure he'd be calling Patti LaBelle's name, he didn't bother to make sure he knew how to pronounce "Lachey." (Morgan thought the winning team's name was "lake-ee".) He tried not to pronounce it at first, just pointing and saying "this team over here. I think someone must have whispered to him to read the name.) I have to admit, I got a chuckle out of that. Five minutes too late, you could hear him yell, "Lachey" correctly. It was hilarious.

During the show, LaBelle announced that she's going to do at least one more performance (on New Year's Eve) with her choir. I hope Lachey follows suit. He seemed guininely moved by the experience. And it's not as if he's got anything better to do--none of his former bandmates are running for office right now, and he doesn't seem to be able to compete with Tony Romo in the romance department.

Sorry, that last bit was a little snarky. Congratulations to the outstanding group of Cincinnatians who got together for a good cause. And a big thank you to Nick Lachey, for making a Cincinnati team competitive on television. And I do hope we see Lachey and his choir singing somewhere again soon. They're entertaining.

Next year: Lachey replaces Marvin Lewis; Bengals go 16-0.