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Thursday, December 22, 2005

Lizard Lore

My first job was as a busboy (back in '95, no wait, it was my second) at a once great establishment known as The Blackstone. It was less than a block up from The Prescinct on Delta Avenue and the school building the fhip fine-dining joint resided in was crawling with these lizards. I would have to assume that much of the area was and still is.

The manager of the place--now GM of The Iron Horse Restaraunt in Glendale--Wine Sevant Jeff Menke--always joked that the little lizards would be used in soup or as part of the special. It was corny, which I hate, but it brings back warm memorys. Good times.

So this was appropriate...
What's Weird in Cincinnati by Dan Woellert (from CinAd's The Wire) In these cold Winter days, I find my imagination running off to the hot lazy summer. In a recent post lunch daydream, I was reminded of the weird creature I run into in Cincinnati during the summer. If you have ever made it to one of the fantastic parks on the east side of Cincinnati, you may have run across lizards scampering in the sun. In fact, if you have been to Mt, Lookout, Hyde Park, Eden Park, or even as far out as Mariemont, you may have seen these strange lizards scampering among the rocks. I have made pets of them myself temporarily, as I occasionally find them running through my east side home in the warmer months.

The occurrence of these lizards is not an urban myth, but does have a strange history attached to it. Cincinnatians have heard these lizards referred to as the ‘Lazarus Lizards’. There have been numerous articles over the past two decades in the popular local press and in scientific journals, increasing this crazy ‘Lizard Lore.’

What is interesting is that these lizards are not native to Cincinnati – in fact, they are not even native to North America. They are a variety of the European Wall Lizard, or more scientifically, Podarcis Muralis. The story is that a young member of the Lazarus department store family, George Rau, obtained about 10 specimens of these lizards on a 1952 summer vacation in Lake Garda near Milan, Italy. He brought them to Cincinnati and let them free in the woods near his parental home in Torrence Court in Mt Lookout. This lore is verified by a letter from George Rau, held at the Cincinnati Museum of Natural History, that is a response to all the articles in local papers.

It is estimated by herpetologists at the Cincinnati Zoo, that these lizards occupy an ecosystem of about 6 square kilometers on the east side and are expanding out at an increasing rate each year. Contributing to this expansion are people catching and releasing them in other areas of Ohio and Kentucky in home gardens. They are known to be an aggressive species, often causing the migration of other less aggressive lizard species who compete for food and sunbathing space. They apparently love the hilly and rocky terrain of the east side, and are able to burrow in the many unmortared stone walls to survive the winters. Milan, Italy, has an almost identical annual temperature and precipitation pattern to Cincinnati.

These Lazarus Lizards can reach up to about six inches in length and are a greenish gray color, and some have a blue belly or blue spots, as well as other variations of red, orange, and even dull yellow. Apparently, another smaller shipment of these lizards, this time from another Lazarus family vacation to Ibiza, Spain, was orchestrated by the same George Rau in the late 50s. This species has been confirmed as Podarcis Pityusenis vedrea, a subspecies of the Ibizan Wall Lizard. According to the herpetology authorities, it is unlikely that this second species either survived, and if they did, interbred with the first group. No funded study has been engaged to collect mitochondrial DNA from the local specimens to verify an interbreeding.

The legality of George Rau’s lizard abduction of the 1950s is certainly under question. However, the result of his action certainly makes for a great local story and even a local mascot to compete with the flying pig. Who knows we might all be running the Lazarus Lizard Marathon in a few years…. Probably unlikely!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

5 Bengals Among Top Pro-Bowl Vote Getters

The Pro Bowl selections will be announced this afternoon (4 p.m., ESPN, if you care), but the top vote-getters are known, and 5 Bengals are among them.

Chad Johnson got the most votes of any Bengal, with Carson Palmer close behind. The two of them were among the top 10 offensive vote-getters. Deltha O'Neal was among the top 10 defensive vote-getters.

O'Dell Thurman got the 5th most votes of any rookie, and kicker Shayne Graham was the 9th leading vote-getter in the entire AFC.

Congratulations to all these players and others (Terry Steinbach, Willie Anderson, T.J., Rudy) who didn't make the Pro Bowl but consistently perform at a high level.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Real Hot 100: New Real Women's Blog In Cincy

Jen Spillane, Stephanie Dunlap and some others are contributing to a new blog that comes from the view of the real urban woman. Though it does seem to deliberatley be contrary to the view of women that has been perpetuated by Penthouse, Maxim and others of its ilk--of coarse this image existed long before de Sade even took the floor--it is more so that way in an overview. The writing and the ideas do not come from the "bullied gets to hold court" forum. They are great offerings in and of themselves. Make no mistake, these young ladies are some of the most talented writers and artists--people in the region.

It will be interesting what kind of an impact it makes on the writing community, let alone the blogger community.

read more about the Real Hot 100 from the "not your woman" blog...
"We’re tired of the media telling young women how to be "hot"! Maxim Magazine’s annual "Hot 100" list exemplifies how young women are viewed in popular culture. The women featured in this leading men’s magazine are chosen solely for their appearance."

Monday, December 19, 2005

Dems Hope to Make Inroads in Exurbs & Rural Areas

The Warren County Democratic Party is moving its headquarters from Franklin to Lebanon.

"Chairwoman Barb Sizemore said the new location would be more accessible to high-growth southern Warren County. The party also has a young Democratic club starting up aimed at ages teens through 35."

And they have a key issue: sprawl.

"'Developers are making all the calls,' Goldenfield said. 'It’s all tilted toward development.'"

Finally. It's about time this issue got on the political radar screen around here.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Baltimore Pissed About Indiana's New Colts Liscence Plates

The story is that the Colts, beloved football team of Baltimore, was stolen from the City on night in 1981 (or '82) by owner Robet Irsay, whose family still operates the team.

When the city awoke the next day, it was destroyed. They have not let a day go by since when they haven't taken every oportunity to bitch.

My uncle once cornered the owner of an Indianapolis bar to ask if the owner had Johnny Unitas' permission to display a large painting of Unitas in his airport bar.

The Balitmore Ravens team pep squad is still called the Baltimore Colts Band. They still play the Colts fight song.

Just watch the movie The Diner and you'll understand.

Well, now the state of Indiana is touting the Colts of India-no-place on their liscence plates and Baltimorans are feeeeeuuuuuuuming.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

CinAd Weekend Music

Saturday Night Music:
Barnyard Burlesque Christmas Pageant with the Tough and Lovely (Downstairs) / DV80s (Upstairs)
Northside Tavern: Paper Airplane
Comet: The Blues Rock Boys
Copper's on Main: B Movie Star
Viper Room: Dead August
Mad Hatter: Strongest Proof (CD Release Party)
Mad Frog: Autumn's Hazy Eyes
Southgate House: Various, including Jake Speed, Beau Alquizola, Visceral Elixir, Kelly Thomas and The Pick-ups, The Matthew Shadley Band, pale beneath the blue

House Cuts Everything

Last week the House passed yet another tax cut for the wealthy (always a responsible thing during wartime).

This week it passed cuts in education and health.

(Too bad children and poor people can't hire lobbyists).

Local Reps Steve Chabot, Jean Schmidt and John Boehner voted for all the cuts.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Homophobic Maniacs Make Ford Their Biotch

Several months ago I saw a nature program about strange things. One of them was an underground cave where the bat guano had piled up to a depth of 200 feet.

That is the image I think of when I think of the U.S. auto industry. Ford and GM are eliminating tens of thousands of jobs across the midwest. Auto supplier Delphi has also been affected, and that has cost thousands of Ohioans their jobs as well. Meantime, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, and Indian automakers are looking at bright futures.

So it makes sense that Ford would try to sell more of its cars, but it almost made a big mistake. Fortunately, the American Family Association was watching and was able to guide Ford back to righteousness.

Thank you, AFA. You're not helping destroy an industy, you're helping save America!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

QCF Brand designer to Brand N. Cincy Convention and Visitors Bureau

In an effort to support Cincinnati-based businesses as it promotes them, the Northern Cincinnati Convention & Visitor’s Bureau has selected Cincinnati’s Aranzamendez Design to develop an upcoming branding campaign.

The new brand identity, which the bureau plans to unveil in January, is part of a $250,000 marketing plan aimed at bringing more tourism and convention dollars to suburban Cincinnati. Regional branding is a hot trend in Ohio, with Northern Kentucky, Cincinnati USA and Warren County among other entities that have turned to branding.

“We felt that strategic branding was the best way to present the many benefits of staying and playing in Northern Cincinnati,” says Northern Cincinnati CVB Director of Marketing Jeff Blom.

“Aranzamendez Design will help us bring even more tourism and convention dollars to our region, and we’re supporting Cincinnati’s creative class by working with a local branding agency.”

Each year, the NCCVB promotes Cincinnati’s suburban areas through regional advertising campaigns. In 2006, the bureau’s new brand identity will reach potential northern Cincinnati visitors in Indianapolis, Columbus and other Midwestern cities.

Branding – Not Just For Nike Anymore
The NCCVB is not alone in their efforts to sell a region with a unique brand identity. Austin, Texas - which recently garnered attention when the unofficial slogan – “Keep Austin Weird” became popular – is widely known as the Live Music Capital of the World. Tourism in Austin generated more than $3.3 billion in the Texas capital in 2001.

Blom hopes to help develop a similar buzz throughout the Midwest for Northern Cincinnati, building upon the recognition generated by Cincinnati USA Regional Tourism Network’s new brand, which features the slogan: “Cincinnati: All Together Surprising.”

“If travelers are invited to ‘Experience Columbus’ and told ‘It’s So Easy To Do So Much’ in Indianapolis, we need something that makes Northern Cincinnati stand out for today’s tourists,” Blom says.

“If Northern Kentucky is branding itself as ‘The Southern Side of Cincinnati’, and Warren County is known as ‘Ohio’s Largest Playground’, then we need to form an identity for Northern Cincinnati within our region,” he continues. “Meeting planners and leisure travelers need to know who we are.”

About The Northern Cincinnati CVB
Founded in 2004, The Northern Cincinnati Convention and Visitor Bureau’s mission is to promote and sell Cincinnati by encouraging visitors, meetings and conventions to stay in Northern Hamilton County. The Northern Cincinnati CVB represents 50 hotels and over 6,000 hotel rooms in 8 suburban Hamilton County communities and over 300 business and regional attractions throughout Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana.

About Aranzamendez Design
Aranzamendez Design, founded in 2004 by Arlene Aranzamendez, specializes in brand consulting for clients like the Contemporary Arts Center, Queen City Coffee and The Party Source. Previously, Aranzamendez worked as a Senior Designer for Libby, Perzyk Kathman (LPK) in Cincinnati, where her projects included designs for Pantene, Head & Shoulders and Herbal Essences.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

For the Nerd Who Has Everything

It's a classic American story: you're a technophobic child of hippies but the person you love is a materials scientist at a major chip manufacturer. How to select a holiday gift? The top 10 weirdest USB drives might be just the thing.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Snow-what? The Weekend Ahead... Thanks to CinAd

Every week, Cincinnati Advance kicks out "The Wire", a look at the up coming week in culture, politics, and frankly... drinking. It's a great look and nobody does it in a more organized fashion.

In short, if you don't know what's going on in Cincy, you aren't hip to Cincinnati Advance.

This week's gives a run down of the Music Scene and the always entertaining "10 Minutes in Cincy"...

Saturday Night Music:
alchemize: DIG IT
Northside Tavern: Lovely Crash
Comet: Vanishing Kids, Self-evident
Copper's on Main: Your guess is as good as mine.
Viper Room: Greasmas, Buck Stevens and the Buckshots, Rumble Club, Lube Oil & Filter
Mad Hatter: Screaming Kings, American Hardcore
Mad Frog: Jupiter Sunrise, Star Killers
Southgate House: Alone At 3am, Rescue effort, Norust, Hideaway, Krinj, the Horlah, Ellison, Fizzgig, Towhee, Michael Weatherford, Ben Smith, A Present Day Nightmare, Mara, Dead in the Wake

Sunday December 11th:Cat Chow. Don’t miss this contemporary exhibition showcasing the work of rising star Cat (Catherine) Chow. Addressing issues relating to the culturally assigned roles of women and their clothing, Chow uses highly unusual methods and materials. Meticulously fabricated, her fascinating wearable pieces straddle the line between art and fashion. At the Cincinnati Art Museum, Eden Park.

10 Min in Cincy 8:32-8:42, McFadden's
There's a general vibe of guarded caution that washes over when drink specials are offered. The more generous the drink special, the more caution is needed.
Cases in point, anytime you get drink tickets for small amounts of money. You know what I'm talking about. Those drink specials where you get a tickets for ten bucks or less. Watch your back. I once heard a story where my college roommate knew this guy whose cousin knew this guy whose college roommate ended up in a bathtub with a kidney missing because he went to one such event. It was an event where beers cost only a ticket- and 30 tickets only cost five bucks.
Well, we found ourselves at such a twisted event. A local online magazine hosted an event at the downtown hotspot of the year. I put my hand over my kidney as we approached the venue. The plan was to get San in for the discounted price (not drinking) and I'd pay full price. Then we'd split the bounty of 10 beers.
Otherwise, it would fall on San to guard my kidneys.
The problem fell on trying to get San a cup. I went to the event honcho and began to schmooze. But my schmooze fell on selling my covert celebrity skills. Was I looking for an extra cup, or an extra job?
The powers that be were citing codes and local laws. But I was free to e-mail them about extra jobs.
With my kidneys in peril, we hijacked an extra glass. Secretly diverting potent potables, I snickered at unseen lurkers who were most likelystaring at my mid-section longingly. (DM)

Wire Contributors: Brian Griffin, Doug Meyers, & Eric Platt. Email: http://us.f327.mail.yahoo.com/ym/Compose?To=wire@cincinnatiadvance.com

Ohio U. Photographers Dominate International Competition

They party hard, but they take good pictures while they're doing it:

Ohio University students earned nearly one quarter of the awards in the 60th annual College Photographer of the Year competition sponsored by the University of Missouri. Ohio University, the only university in the state of Ohio to win any honors, won the most awards in the international competition.

Judges selected the award-winning pieces from more than 9,000 image submissions by undergraduate and graduate students. Fourteen Ohio University students, all from the School of Visual Communication, earned the 20 awards.
[full story]

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

P&G to Push Brands with Bands

P&G will soon offer music downloads on its Home Made Simple website. The songs, which are intended to make you feel young and hip while you do your imitation of HGTV, can be purchased for a dollar for those so inclined.

"Julia's Jukebox" will offer "preselected playlists from musicians such as The Who, Lizz Wright and Julie Andrews," reports the Cincinnati Business Courier. Doesn't this mean someone at P&G has been assigned the task of listening to scores of songs, filtering out the anti-establishment cacophony (i.e. the good stuff), and then match what remains to various aspects of blissful suburbia?

I don't know about Lizz Wright and Julie Andrews, but I think The Who is better off not knowing about this. Maybe Brian Eno can produce some music for suburbs...

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Whoooa... Slow Down

The Bengals are certainly in the NFL's elite, they are a good team, exceptionally coached and they have a great combination of heart and talent. All the backups are good enough and Palmer may one day be one of the greatest ever.

But folks, one big win does not a season make.

The schedule is not overly difficult and they will likely not be truly challenged again until the playoffs. The point is, the Bengals are not well served to blow their proverbial load all over everywhere with 4 games left in the season.

One day they may be better than the Colts, but that day is not today. Can you imagine a Cowher-coached team acting like this with 4 games left? They haven't even clinched the division!!

There is football to play, boys. We want a playoff game in Cincy, there are 6 months to talk when the season is over, and CJ could get the okay from a publisher immediately if he kept his mouth shut and took a notebook.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Newspapers' Future in the Tech Era

Newspapers around the world are losing subscribers. Both The Enquirer and Post lost subscribers last year, and they're far from alone. An international conference was recently held to discuss just this matter.

This Boston Globe column details some of the changes it is making to survive in an online future. Very interesting. Could there be similar opportunities here for The Post to eke out a survival with next-generation technology?

(via Walk-In Brain)

Thursday, December 01, 2005

This Has All the Makings...

The pictures in the Enquirer tell one hell of a story. It gives us a real hope. I don't know what everyone felt like 2 years ago, but this is not going to be just another day at the office. This council has some potential.

But change does come without resistence and pain. The Crowley mystery is still just that and perhaps this council will get past it or deal with whatever issue has risen. I have a felling that this discomfort is not going to be met with the same political whitewashing we are accostomed to.

For better or for worse, this council will be different, a close knit group and the Crowley situation is the correct amount of dis-ease that suggests that this is real.

High School Students Step Up

from the Western Star:

The Nov. 8 defeat of the third attempt to pass a bond issue in the Little Miami Local School District has driven some high school seniors to action.

[Kyle] Perkins and fellow classmates Stephen NeCamp and P.J. Ehling told board members they were concerned about the future of their school district.

Ehling proposed students could be part of the solution. He said his classmates plan to form the United Committee for the Improvement of School Funding.

Maybe there is hope for the future after all. Good luck, gentlemen!

"10 Minutes in Cincy" Music for the Weekend

Saturday December 3rd:
Saturday Night Music:
alchemize: Jeff Timmons, The Trojan Rabbit
Northside Tavern: The Spectacular Fantastic, Woody Whatever, The 13s
Comet: (in) camera, The Unicorns
Copper's on Main: 500 Miles to Memphis, Dingo Brown
Viper Room: Giant Wow, The Lab Rats, Sohio, and Phearus
Mad Hatter: ???? It's a Mystery.
Mad Frog: Served
Southgate House: Ballroom: Steven Gregory, The Hinges, Terravada, Hierophant, Gregory Morris Group; Parlour: The Freddies

10 Min in Cincy 10:12-10:22pm, Music Hall
I'd always suspected that there was a secret speakeasy somewhere in Music Hall. I mean, how do you have world class musicians without a secret bar tucked away?

After the Thursday night performance, we took our secret passes and headed for the entrance.

"Can I help you get somewhere?" asked the gentleman in the black suit who was gate-keeping. He was polite, but underneath that politeness was a person who was guarding an underground cult of classical music and trivia knowledge.

Once we showed off our VIP status, he waved us in. The bar room was exactly how you'd picture a hideout within Music Hall. The bar was an ornate, wood-carving. Tables and chairs everywhere. And a nice spread of post-performance appetizers. The group was small and intimate. Everyone seemed interested in how we came to infiltrate the gathering (Cincinnati Advance is always good for that).

While there, we had the opportunity to meet some of the musicians from the concert, mostly string musicians. And believe me, if you've ever had a heated game of Texas Hold 'em with string musicians, you know never to turn your back on one.

There would be no poker, thankfully. But there would be other shady activities. "Okay, if you'd all like to take your seats, we'll begin our music trivia game." And with that, the projection screen lit up with questions and music to match.

Our table put in a valiant effort. But beyond the "Potent Potable" category, about the only contribution I could make to the game were a couple of answers from the "random knowledge" quadrant of my intellect: I happened to recognize the poster from Ben-Hur, and I happened to know Sting's real name.

The conductor, Paavo Jarvi, popped into the bar during the heated game. Try as we did, we could not get him to help our table with answers to symphonic obscurities- not even with a bribe. Table Six and Table Two were running with the game.

But of course, while competing, I kept a weary eye on the string musicians. Never turn your back on a string musician hell-bent on winning.(DM)

Wire Contributors: Brian Griffin, Doug Meyers, & Eric Platt. Email:
The Wire, including 10 Minutes in Cincinnati is put out each weeks by CIncinnati Advance. Not hip to them yet?
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