Tuesday, November 30, 2010

From The "Things White People Like" Files

A rap about NPR.


If you're a freak about Morning Edition, Car Talk and The Splendid Table, then you will probably like this.

If you don't know who Terry Gross is, don't watch it.

Just don't.
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See and Be Scene: Holiday Edition

If you listen closely, you can hear my heart beat like an 808 drum.

It's not because I'm busting a move to Ke$ha, though I've been known to hit the hardwood in my apartment in my skivvies to say that your love is my drug.

No. I am coping with the very seasonal stress that is running rampant these days.

Chances are, your calendar looks a little bit like mine:

Cincinnati is serving up some spectacular events this holiday season, and sometimes it can be hard to decide on what to attend. Here's a list of my events of note:

Dec 1
Chris Seelbach's campaign launch at Know Theatre - 6 pm
Please join hosts Roxanne Qualls, David Pepper and David Crowley for this fantastic launch of Cincinnati's next great council member. I promise this event will be inspiring, exciting and fun!

Dec 2
OtR Holiday Party - Mr. Pitiful's - 6 pm
Your friends from Cincinnati's most happening neighborhood will converge on this happy hour supporting the Over-the-Rhine Foundation. Expect fun entertainment, great food and drink deals and other special features.

Dec 10
Light Up OtR - Neon's Unplugged - 6 pm
OtR teams up once again, this time to light a massive pine tree and lumenaria around the neighborhood. Sip on drinks poured by ace mixologist Molly Wellmann and place your very own ornament on the tree for all to see. Proceeds for this gathering support the OtR Foundation.

Dec 11
Yelp's Totally Bazaar Holiday Party - American Sign Museum - 7 pm
Here's an event that I really regret missing. A busy social calendar (and special birthday!) means I will have to miss this swinging scene where guests will be treated to complimentary drinks and bites from local businesses. Bring your credit card - the bazaar will also show off some of the best local gifts you can buy this holiday season.

Dec 15 is a one-two (make that THREE!) punch:
MashUp Cincinnati 2 - Lunar - 7 pm
Grab your Pokens and get ready to network with the city's most connected young professionals in the to-be-revealed Lunar at 435 Elm St. Brought to you by Blackbook EMG and HYPE.
JLC Social Event - Dutch's Hyde Park - 7 pm
Looking to unwind? Join the Junior League of Cincinnati for a cozy gathering of wine and mingling. A $5 contribution at the door benefits the JLC's work in supporting women and children in Greater Cincinnati.
Shrimp Boil - Milton's - 6 pm
The Milton's crew is serving up its monthly shrimp boil. For six bucks, you can savor a steaming pile of shrimp, corn on the cob and boiled potatoes. One of the best (and most delicious!) deals around.

Hope to see you around at some of these fun events!

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Kate's Random Musings by Kate the Great is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Touch My Body

When Mariah Carey pleaded, "Wrestle me around, play with me some more," I don't think she was envisioning this guy:

 In case you can't see the watermark everywhere, this photo is from the AP.

Okay, so this latest Transportation Security Administration drama has everybody's panties in a knot, if for no other reason than the manhandling in the security line at your nearest airport.

Today is one of the biggest travel days of the year, and every air traveler around has heard about the new pat down technique administered to people taking to the friendly skies. These more invasive techniques arose after people began refusing to go through the "backscatter" full body scans that create images of your essentially nude self.

Tales of full breast cupping, vaginal probing and "junk" manhandling have erupted in connection with the more "thorough" pat down technique.

Some of the stories sound too absurd, insensitive or offensive to be true. But they are. Take note:

A woman was asked to remove her prosthetic breast from her bra during a pat down.

A video has been circulating for several days showing a small child experiencing a pat down at an airport in Salt Lake City. The TSA has come out saying the boy's father was present the entire time and that he hasn't filed a complaint.

A Cincinnati traveler managed to return to American soil from overseas without submitting to either invasive scan or pat down. He was, however, escorted out of the airport by 15 TSA agents, police and other authorities.

Earlier this month, a 31-year-old traveler told a San Diego TSA worker, "If you touch my junk, I'm going to have you arrested."

I don't know about you, but I typically only prefer body fondling after a good date and a glass of wine or two.

So many travelers have expressed frustration about the new, extreme security measures, and have said they plan to muck up the system with a demonstration "National Opt-Out Day" today. The movement is an attempt to tell lawmakers and other officials that law abiding citizens do not deserve to be subjected to these invasive scanners and extreme pat downs.

The demonstration will likely lead to big delays at the nation's busiest airports, as a scan only takes a few seconds, but a detailed pat down takes about two minutes.

This whole thing feels wrong.

And not in a touchy-feely way.

The thing is, we are Americans. Our nation's citizens have enjoyed special liberties and freedoms for over 234 years. We have a Constitution and Bill of Rights that protect us from improper search and seizure. Our citizens have a reasonable expectation of being considered innocent until proven guilty and are afforded the right of due process.

We just can't go around feelin' people up to make sure they're not carrying explosive devices between their labia.

There. I said it.

We're putting our rights and privileges aside for the sake of extreme tactics in the war on terrorism. The dramatic change to our peace and civility in an affront to basic American standards and we must search for better, less offensive ways to safely screen air travelers.

Because, like I said, I only invite people to touch my body when a little romance is involved.
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Friday, November 19, 2010

On Being Single

Single is sometimes very, very quiet.

The kind of quiet where the stark vastness of a morning is shattered by a single pair of fleshy feet padding across the hardwood. The day is not punctuated by sound until I make it. That is my task and my task alone every morning. Making the sound that starts the day.

The evening can be much louder, but it's still a responsibility all my own. Stereo cranked and broom in hand, I dance across the expanse of my living room with my slender but dedicated dance partner. We glide, we tap, we groove.

Sometimes we pause before one of the windows, wondering- no, hoping that someone else is witnessing the delight of my evening alone. Me and my broom. Dancing.

Single means no one else will trudge to the store for you when you're sick. Ditto on rainy days, snow storms and other occasions when it's good to have a permanent plus one.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner - three meals that sometimes happen, sometimes don't. When they do, their menus are mine to decide, down to the refined details of drinking orange juice right from the jug.

Sue me. I live alone.

Single means everything is mine, mine, mine. The shoes, the mess, the bills, the beer, the remote control. Every. Single. Thing. in my house is all mine. There are blessings to this, and there are curses.

I, alone, get to decide which dinner guests are invited to my table. I, alone, get to decide what we'll serve. I, alone, get to clean up the mess.

My nights are made up of a very big bed with very cold sheets. Body heat doesn't work as well to warm the soul when it's one pair of legs and arms and one single heart beating through the stillness.

Unexpected, happy late night telephone conversations are a good substitute.

The shower is mine to comandeer whenever it suits me, followed by long, leisurely hours in front of the bathroom's mirror, complete with hair brushes and flat irons and makeup in hand. Nobody's in line behind me. Nobody's tapping his toes. Nobody's rolling their eyes as I try my thirteenth hair style.


Single is having an empty refrigerator and a trash can overflowing with sticky takeout containers. Other times I spend a string of nights of dining out with friends who help fill the silence of my life. Sometimes those nights creep into dawn.

And it is delightful.

Inspired by the latest Modern Love piece in the New York Times. I've never had bed bugs, but I know all too well what it's like to cope with and survive a situation that would be made more bearable by a partner.

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Kate's Random Musings by Kate the Great is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

Get It, Get It

Raise your hand if you like shoes.

Whew. That's a lot of hands.

Well, you would be happy to know that today's Groupon deal in Cincinnati is kick. ass. You can score $50 in clothing and shoes at Nordstrom Rack - all for only $25.

I don't have to tell you all how spectacular this deal is - especially with holiday shopping right around the corner.

Click here if you want to get in on this Groupon deal... it's good only today, so score it while you can.

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Kate's Random Musings by Kate the Great is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Perfect Pie Crust

Everybody likes to eat pie.

'Tis the season for pumpkin, pecan or apple pie. Other folks enjoy blueberry, rhubarb or peach. Still others are suckers for those cream varieties - banana, chocolate or coconut.

Everybody has a pie they can call their own.

Me? I am a Derby kind of girl. The Kentucky classic is an homage to the ten years I spent in the Bluegrass, savoring that almost sinful combination of pecans, chocolate chips and the optional (note: why would you forgo this part?!) shot of bourbon.

Derby pie has trumped my mother's French Silk pie as my favorite thing on a crust.

Speaking of crust, I am proud to say I make a kick ass pie crust. It's not bragging, really. I am usually a pretty modest person, but my pie crust is one thing I feel comfortable heralding from every rooftop in OtR. It's rich, flaky and the perfect pastry base for any pie.

My mother says my pie crust is better than hers, and that is a spectacularly huge compliment.

Seeing as we're approaching Thanksgiving, it's high time I give you a couple tips. I won't spill the beans on my super secret techniques, but I'll point you in the right direction.
  • Before you add your fats (butter, margarine or lard) to the flour, make sure they're well chilled.
  • A pastry blender is an essential tool in blending flour and your fats. Williams-Sonoma has a pretty nice version for $10, as does Sur la Table and other culinary stores. Mine is a pretty inexpensive version I picked up at Kroger.
  • Make sure any water you add to the flour-and-fat mix is well chilled.
I have a few other tricks up my sleeve that I employ when making my pie crust. You'll probably discover your own techniques if you begin to regularly crank out pies, too.

Happy baking!

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Kate's Random Musings by Kate the Great is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Suicide By Crafts

Sometimes I think Michael's Crafts is the Fifth Ring of Hell.

Where Wal-Mart is the Ninth Ring, and Kroger's pharmacy line could be regarded as the First Ring, the crafters' mecca is firmly planted somewhere in the middle.

What with its melange of tempera paints and scrapbook paper and cake icing tips, Michael's Crafts has a way of bringing out the craziest crafters of all ages.

I am one of those freaks.

My glue gun is safely stashed in a bowl atop my refrigerator. I have a whole cardboard box full of sparkly trimmings, ribbons, paints, glues and other tools required for greatness.

The thing is, whenever I walk into Michael's, it's with the intention of accomplishing a specific mission. In this case, my explicit assignment was to go to the paper products aisle to buy some note cards and envelopes.

But I am always lured away by something else. In this case, it was the silk flowers.

Glorious blooms of every color of the rainbow, probably made in Chinese sweatshops by little children with tiny, tiny fingers.

(Ed. note: Dear Michael's Crafts - I am just hypothesizing and wondering here, and have no concrete evidence substantiating said statement, so please don't sue me. I really don't know what I'm talking about).

Behold, my moment of tiptoeing through the tulips.

I set out on a mission to find a flower that would make a great hair accessory. Screw the feathers that everyone else is sporting. I wanted big and blooming. This option is a take on a Bird of Paradise. Its sharp edges and vibrant colors are eye catching... but I'm afraid it could poke out a date's eyes as he went in for the kill.

Uh, no.

"Who, me?" Playing coy behind a pastel pink blossom that does not appear in nature (What the hell is it? a peony? A gerbera daisy cultivated in a meth lab?), I envisioned skipping and dancing and spinning arm in arm with the love of my life or a very fabulously gay man while wearing this option behind my ear.

I. Love. This. Flower.

Rawr. You look mahvalous. What is it with tango dancers and chewing on red roses? This was probably my most daring photo while traipsing through the aisles of the store. I was so afraid one of the clerks was going to see me gnawing on their $2.99 roses. Thankfully a lady at the check out counter had a wailing newborn and a very, very bossy five-year-old in tow ("But maaaaam, check the bay-bee's diii-per! This cryin' is driving me crayyyy-zeee.")

Thank you, little kid, for keeping the Michael's Crafts staff more annoyed than this 33 y.o. woman.

Did you know that some florists are inundated with requests to send black roses on Valentine's Day? Seriously. There are apparently some very, very bitter ass holes in this world who decide that a broken heart is not enough to inflict on a human being. Some of these jerks decide to seal the deal by sending dead or spray painted, morbid blooms to their exes.

God help the fool who does this to me. For serious.

Now, here's a great hair adornment. It's a wreath. It's a bird's nest. It's a shit show.

Boy, does it make a statement, but probably not the one I'm looking for.

What does Mary wear in the manger outside Sigfried and Roy's house? A plastic, glittery garland and a taser, ready to shine and battle any wild animal this side of Jerusalem.

Seriously. Who puts this junk up in their house? Martha's tacky cousin?

After wandering through the silk flowers a few moments more, I grabbed the big, pink peony/gerbera daisy and headed to the check out counter.

Next up, I'm ready to go to town on some rubber stamps and grosgrain ribbon.

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Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Most Precious Souvenir

Amid tactical assignments and the absence of creature comforts, the U.S. sailor had love on his mind.

World War II. The South Pacific. Far, far away from home and the wife he longed to hold, Rich scrounged together what time and supplies he could find to make a memento.

Other American service men stationed in that part of the world had made coin bracelets for their loved ones, fashioning them together with links and clasps.

Rich couldn't find any links readily available, but a fellow seaman offered him a big spool of platinum. Rich declined the offer to keep the entire spool, but instead only took what he needed to craft seven oval shaped links to hold the coins together.

Years later, Rich said he could have kicked himself for turning down such an offer. Platinum wasn't worth much during the 40s and so he wasn't enthused about the idea of hauling that spool around for the duration of the war.

"It could have been worth so much these days," he'd say wistfully, looking at his well worn hands.

While making the bracelet, Rich hammered the smaller Australian coins into concave shapes, allowing the bracelet to naturally curve around a woman's wrist. Some of the coins, dating back to as far as 1916, held with them their own untold stories.

The sailor's greatest gesture, sanding down one side of the largest, centerpiece coin and inscribing, "To My Wife Sallie With Love Rich."

Thousands of miles away from home and thinking about his wife. Thinking about the reasons why so many American servicemen were at war.

Rich returned home to Sallie, safe and sound, and went on to start a family. Through the years, he volunteered and marched in parades with a Youngstown American Legion post, proudly wearing pins and other remembrances of his service.

Rich went on to spend his twilight years as a loving grandfather to three girls, the oldest of which was precocious, curious and clever. She admired her grandmother's bracelet as a girl, posing for photos with its coins dangling off her tiny wrist.

Years later, she wears it as a woman.

And she knows her grandparents are proud.

Thank you to the many service men and women who continue to commit themselves to the Stars and Stripes.

We are truly indebted to you.

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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Day 3

Landor 110

A lot on my mind for these next few weeks... and it shows.

I don't know where I'm going. All I know is, I am enjoying getting there. For the most part.
34 is so close I can taste it. It tastes good. 

The next few days and weeks are chaos times Avogadro's Number.
I feel like the rest of 2010 will be a blur. 

 The tasks ahead have lots of moving parts. My cranium is responsible for holding on to lots of details, and my body is responsible for cranking out lots of Fabulous.
I am trying to hold Exasperated Kate at bay.
All of the hard work is going to pay off. I know I will sparkle through some of the coming successes and celebrations. But my days will require strength and the ability to withstand great pressure.

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Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Day 2

The Landor 110

My sketch:

My senses are really unenthused today. They haven't had to summon on their creativity, and for that, I feel a bit stagnant. I'm pushing to power through it, but this underscores my feeling that I need creative endeavors and opportunities to write creatively to encourage productivity.

In many facets of my life, I feel like I'm stuck in a rut. Certainly where blogging is concerned. Sometimes personally and professionally. I am desperate to find that spark that motivates me to move mountains and make music.

A pretty good photo where symbolism is concerned. Sometimes I feel boxed in, desperate to see any glimpse of something beyond. Those brown walls need some jazzy wall covering or something.

This is the idea that gets me through the days, as of late. I haven't had a vacation since January. If I can hold out until May, I will be rewarded by the many wonders of India.

Beneath the surface of this restless, under stimulated skin, I can barely contain myself.

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See And Be Scene - The Tuesday Edition

Allow me, for a moment, to indulge in a pet project.

I've got a big secret to spill, and it involves this Saturday night.

You see, I am super excited about The Future Fund's "Event of The Season," which is about to fling open the doors on a good time this weekend.

The event (Saturday night from 8 pm to 12 am) aims to launch The Future Fund, a Young Professional (really, any professional) invested endowment fund that aims to support United Way's work in education, income and health in Greater Cincinnati.

I think we can all agree that those things are important to our community, right? (It's at this point where I am boldly disclosing that United Way is my employer).

So, this party. It's going to feature the party staging talents of none other than Joe Rigotti of Accent on Cincinnati, the culinary greatness of Chef Renee Schuler of Eat Well Celebrations and Feasts. Popular Cincinnati DJ Ryan Lehmkuhl will drop the beats for the evening, and guests will be entertained by a fashion show featuring styles from 4 U Urban Fashion Boutique.

Oh, and did I mention we'll have David DeWitt's classic Photo Booth, made famous by FB's on 6th St.?

This party is going to be spectacular.

And the venue. Yes, the venue. Everyone wants to know about the venue.

Well, it's still a secret.

Here are a few clues that I've leaked previously:

-Lewis would have been impressed with this venue, were it there when he paddled by, headed to meet Clark.

-"The sensual mysticism of an entire vertical being." e.e. cummings.

-Words that describe The Event of The Season on November 13: glow, sparkle, skyline, high, flash, pulsing, laughter, strut, electric

I'll be revealing the venue via Twitter at @UnitedWayGC as well as @Kate_the_Great. Feel free to leave any guesses in my comments section on this page.

In the meantime, please be sure to buy your tickets ($35 pp) at the Eventbrite page, where you can learn more about The Future Fund.

Please join us at The Penthouse at SouthShore Condominiums in Newport, KY!

As a personal aside: I've been working on this event since April and am really proud of what we've managed to pull off. It's going to be a fantastic evening supporting great work in Greater Cincinnati. I promise.

See you there!

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Kate's Random Musings by Kate the Great is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

Monday, November 08, 2010

The Landor 110

Warning: What you're about to see is raw, primitive and honest.

Would you expect anything different on this blog?

Okay, so the lovely Micah Paldino asked me to participate in a local effort of creative expression inspired by the folks at that titan of branding, Landor.

The Downtown Cincinnati based company previously invited its employees to sit for a minute at 1:10 (am or pm) to think about what they were feeling at a given moment, chronicled through a sketch, a word, a photo and a color.

A clever idea, considering a set of feelings can be as brilliant, multi-dimensional and varied as the facets on an Asscher cut diamond.

Those drawings and remarks were then displayed for the world to see in the company's massive windows at 110 Shillito Place.

Now, Landor is turnings its windows over to the people, and I am one of those lucky people.

So here's the drill.

For seven days, I will chronicle my thoughts and feelings with the above mentioned categories. I'll do my damndest to post said pics up on the blog (but make no time guarantees about when they'll post).

If you want to follow the merry band of folks doing this, look for the #landor110 hashtag on twitter.

And now, my Landor 110 Day 1:

Most of the time, I feel like I am really sitting on the top of the world.
Note: I am not wearing Mickey Mouse ears. Those are my signature sunglasses. 

Impatience is one of the root causes of many things that makes me unhappy.
Impatience about life circumstances. Impatience about anticipated changes. Impatience about hopes and dreams.

I must learn to be more patient with all convictions and desires.

It is not happenstance that my first picture was from my apartment in Over-the-Rhine.
I love where I live, and I wanted to show it off with pic #1. This is my view. Sunbeams included in the rent. 

My color. Red. Steaming red. Red Letter Day, as the note indicates.
The USPS has decided to stop delivering my mail for some reason.

They're messing with the wrong lady.

Thanks for checking out my first collection of creative expression.

Six more to go. I really wish I'd learned how to draw when I was a kid.

You can check out the entire Landor 110 collection in Landor's windows on Race Street beginning December 3.

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Thursday, November 04, 2010

Get Pho-ked

The air is brisk, the trees are on fire and the sunlight is waning.

Autumn has arrived.

The seasonal chill has brought with it the occasional eruption of coughing, sneezing and a bevy of other ailments that can only be chased away by a few double shots of DayQuil or a hot bowl of soup.

I found the latter at Pho Lang Thang, the latest business to fling open its doors at Findlay Market in Cincinnati's Over-the-Rhine neighborhood.

Excited about the prospect of sinking my teeth into some Vietnamese offerings, I originally had my heart set on a Banh Mi sandwich, a traditional mix of pork, pickled carrots, cilantro, spicy mayo served atop a French baguette.

History Lesson: Vietnamese food features some French influences because of the country's colonization by the European nation in the late 1800s. Most dishes also hold on to traditional Cantonese overtones because of Vietnam's influence by southern Chinese immigrants.

But I digress.

A long and lingering look at the banh mi and I was almost sold, that is until I noticed the massive bowls of soup that other diners were slurping up attentively.

My sore throat and chilly fingers knew they'd found their panacea - a big bowl of Pho Ga (pronounced fuh-ga), or tender cooked chicken with noodles and onions, served with sidecar plate of garnishes including jalapeno slices, lime wedges and sprouts.

I dumped every bit of garnish on that side plate into the hot bowl, its steam billowing from imaginary smoke stacks. I drizzled some beloved sriracha in the soup for added kick, hoping heat of two varieties would soothe my ailments.

The soup and its many noodles and other flavors filled me up quickly and was perfectly complimented by a warm cup of Vietnamese coffee, complete with the traditional condensed milk.

In retrospect, I am kind of bummed I didn't grab a banh mi sandwich to go. I've had banh mi locally, but the best Vietnamese sandwich I've ever had was at Saigon Sandwich in San Francisco. It was billed as the city's best sandwich in 2007.

Here's to hoping Pho Lang Thang can score the same recognition here in Cincinnati.

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