30 December 2008

Hey, Hey, Hey... Good-bye!


Happy New Year to all... see you in 2009!

27 December 2008


Local bakery has breads, muffins, danishes and sense of humor:

23 December 2008

It Has Come to This

My sister and her fiancee spent Thanksgiving week in Cincy. The fiancee is a football fan and, since he spent boyhood years in Pittsburgh, is also Steelers fan. We have quality "guy time" talking football and watching games.

The Sunday after Thanksgiving we made some delicious steaks (to go with leftover mashed potatoes) which we ate for lunch while watching the Bengals get humiliated. The fiancee is a fine, upstanding person and I felt guilty for subjecting him to such a miserable visage. So I told him we should go up to "that Steelers bar" to watch the second game.

The bar is Martino's on [short] Vine. Please believe me when I tell you that once you cross the door, YOU ARE IN PITTSBURGH. Do not wear Bengals attire or even anything Cincinnati-related unless your idea of a good time is being insulted and hassled mercilessly.

Portal to Pittsburgh

But if you fit in, you are family. And it is a family place, at least on Sundays. There are plenty of moms, dads and kids in the place, many decked out in Steelers garb. Take a look:

My brush with greatness's jersey

The fiancee and I had a great time at Martino's. It helped that it was a very good game. Afterwards, I had a moment of deep reflection which I expressed thusly: "Fuck the Bengals. I'm through being Mike Brown's chump. From now on I will be watching the Steelers at Martino's."

You can be a football fan or you can be a Bengals fan, but you can't be both. That's how I feel about it. If you want to watch good football in a good atmosphere, meet me at Martino's and enjoy watching the Steelers. That is what it has come to.

Up yours, Mike Brown.

Smart Car, Dumb Driver?

Seen over the weekend in the 'burbs:

21 December 2008

Math Doesn't Suck (as Much as it Used to)

From the Dec. 10 Wall St. Journal:

U.S. fourth- and eighth-graders improved their math scores in a closely watched international test, but continued to lag well behind peers from top-performing Asian countries. U.S. students also failed to show measurable gains in science.

The test results come as businesses have warned that poor performance in math and science is eroding U.S. competitiveness, and as lawmakers in Washington prepare for a key battle over education policy.

In math, the U.S. "is making steady progress," says Michael O. Martin... But Mr. Martin said he worried about the "huge gap" between the U.S. and Asian countries, which "aren't resting on their laurels."

Next year, Congress is expected to take up the reauthorization of No Child Left Behind.... Barack Obama has indicated an interest in changing the law to address widespread criticism from schools, teachers and parents about its inflexibility...

Our global competitiveness is already tied to our ability to produce top-tier physical scientists and engineers, and it will only get more so in the future. Right now most of our physical scientists come from Asia (fact, not hyperbole).

Here's hoping a new Congress and President will shift education issues 180 degrees away from creationism, abstinence, and general dumbfuckedness and towards producing students who might actually have a decent chance at running the country. Eventually it will be theirs.

17 December 2008

Okay, You Can Bring in Spring Now

I think I've had enough and it's only December. I'm okay with the cold; it's the short days and bad road conditions that beat me down. I hate getting home just in time to look out the window and watch the last rays of light evaporate. Maybe I'll get one of those full spectrum anti-Seasonal Affective Disorder lamps all the kids are talking twittering about (that's for you, K).

Or I can keep going to Margarita's for happy hour. I've heard bueno things about their signature drink and today the crew and I tried a few. They're all bueno. The tortilla chips are bueno. The salsa is bueno (tip: add some chili sauce). The queso is bueno (tip: add some chili sauce). Even Mexican TV is bueno, if watching hot latin women with big bouncy boobs losing food fights is your thing.

Mucho mas bueno: the bartender graciously thanked us for our patronage with a complementary shot of watermelon-flavored tequila. Yes, it was bueno.

I still want spring, but happy hours will do for now.

14 December 2008

I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change

Back when I was young and awesome I used to go to the theater several times a year. But now that I'm a fat, old, lazy bum with a low sperm count I hardly ever go. I've been thinking about changing that and last weekend I got my chance with the fortunate coincidence of a friend's visit and the showing of You're Perfect, I Love You, Now Change at Playhouse in the Park (CityBeat's review).

The bottom line: see this play.

What to expect: hilarity, touching moments, insightful moments and good acting.

Be sure to notice: set design and direction. People behind the scenes deserve credit for what they do to make a good show better.

Where to sit: there are no bad seats but I recommend the first 4 rows (any section).

And think about: buying pre-paid parking with the tickets, especially if there is another play at the same time (A Christmas Carol, for example).

And here's a gratuitous shot of our pre-theater snack, two crepes, one savory and one sweet, courtesy of Francoise:

13 December 2008

Secret Places

When I lived in Chicago I had a friend (hello Greg, I know you're out there somewhere) who had a mental map of just about every nook and cranny in the city. And he knew every hidden gem-- hole-in-the-wall bars with great music, mom-and-pop mexican restaurants with great food, where to find inexpensive clothes, and so on. It's good to know someone like that.

Cincinnati is much smaller but there are secret places here, too. A few weeks ago I found an old staircase that went down to the riverbank. I wouldn't say it's in the middle of nowhere but I'm sure thousands of people pass it thousands of times and have no idea it's there. I walked along the shore for a few minutes, pondering the picnic potential of my discovery. One more reason to anticipate spring, eh (I'm Canadian today).

And I saw this baseball. It doesn't look like a baseball, but this is what one looks like without the leather. Perhaps this is evidence of what Ohio River water does to skin.

And later I saw this very clear message not to go around the speed bump. Wow, that's a mistake you'll only make once:

11 December 2008

High Fructose Urine Screw-up

From Environmental Health News:

Drinking sugary soda is linked to kidney disease, most likely due to the high fructose corn syrup that sweetens the drinks.

The interesting part:

The strongest risk was associated with lower weight women and with drinking non-cola sodas.

And women get the short stick again:

No association was found with men...

In a nutshell: if you must drink two or more sodas a day, drink diet. Or get a sex-change operation.

03 December 2008

3-Ways, Two Ways

As part of my decades-long research project on chili spaghetti I have recently tried a few 3-ways at Blue Ash Chili and Pleasant Ridge Chili.

Neither tastes like Skyline, which I've heard is because Skyline uses cinnamon and the others don't. I cannot confirm or deny this but it sounds right.

More than a mere chili parlor, it has an extensive menu with sandwiches, burgers, salads and soups. There was a daily special all three times I was there. Here is the 3-way breakdown:

Spaghetti: cooked more than Skyline (i.e. beyond al dente) but not a factor in overall taste.
Chili: not spicy and not cinnamon-y but has well-balanced taste without any particular kick. Like the 6th batter in the lineup, it won't thrill anybody but it can be counted on for dependable performance. A little greasier than the others.
Cheese: imagine ordering two 3-ways with extra cheese. Take the cheese from one and put it on top of the other. You now have a 3-way with double extra cheese which is how they serve it at Blue Ash Chili. Seriously, it got a little out of hand on my second visit.

Here is shot of my first Blue Ash Chili 3-way:

I actually don't know what is on the menu here because I just sit at the counter and order a 3-way (note: the diet plan is a little fucked up right now). However, I do remember they have a copy of their original menu on the wall which is interesting to peruse. And by "original" I mean from 1964. I don't think anything was over a dollar.

Spaghetti: Skyline-esque-ly al dente.
Chili: the taste is different from Blue Ash, but it is similar in that it has no particular kick. I like the fact that Pleasant Ridge has bottles of Tabasco as well as Frank's. But I don't like the fact that they're a tad stingy with the chili.
Cheese: this is the weak link. It's slightly hard and rubbery, as if it has been lying around for a while. The competition's cheese, by contrast, always seems fresh because it is soft and has a cheddar aroma. It is possible that Pleasant Ridge buys their cheese pre-grated and this is the cause of the difference. Also, Pleasant Ridge's cheese is milder whereas the competition's is sharper.

The servers at both places were super friendly, as if they were genuinely glad I came in to eat there. Good stuff.

UPDATE: An important review of PRC's gravy fries at Get in mah belly.

Blue Ash Chili on Urbanspoon

Pleasant Ridge Chili on Urbanspoon