Thursday, July 28, 2011

Clooney's Queen City

Cincinnati is splashed all over the Silver Screen.

Here's a look at at the trailer for George Clooney's latest flick.
"Ides of March" comes out in October - take a look and see which spots you can already identify.

Personally, I'm anxious to see the shots that were filmed inside the Netherland/Macy's sky walk, because that was the only scene I saw in person.

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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Game Changer

A month ago, I observed a couple milestones with little fanfare.

And yet they're milestones of which I'm quite proud. Both have had a profound impact on my life, and I would say both count as two of the best decisions of my adult life.

June 26 ushered in with it the one year anniversary of my relocation to Over-the-Rhine after spending five years in Oakley.

The day that followed marked my six months of living without a car.

Both choices have brought with them some interesting challenges and learning moments. I've grown as a person with regard to my feelings about diversity (yes, with race, but I've also had significant awakenings about disparity in economics and heightened awareness of the needs in my community), and I've also developed some strength and confidence while walking the mean streets of OtR.

My favorite learning moments involve meeting the people, many of whom are very friendly and welcoming. There may be differences between us, but the fact that we're neighbors seems to be enough to inspire kindness.

Thinking back on the past, If you told me 19 months ago that I'd be living without a car in Over-the-Rhine, I probably would have said you were crazy. Me? A girl who grew up in the 'burbs and a fiend for driving fast with my stick shift?

No way.

The fact of the matter is, both my new neighborhood and my sans-vehicle status have helped me curb some of my materialistic tendencies. Spend a week walking up Walnut and you'll realize pretty quickly there are needs far more pressing than a new designer handbag.

Just like a woman showing up in all her diamonds to volunteer at homeless shelter, I'd feel pretty gauche walking through my neighborhood and flaunting my more secure circumstances.

Stuff is stuff that doesn't matter. People are who matter.

Living in OtR has also introduced me to eclectic creativity (Final Fridays! Second Sunday!), fun social gatherings on rooftops, in parks and around dumpster pools, and crazy good truffle fries.

I've enjoyed opening my home up to a cadre of clever people, and am grateful for the people who have extended return invitations.

If OtR is about one thing, it's community.

And the car thing. Some of you are probably wondering, How can you say that not having a car is completely awesome? Rather than completely repeating my Ignite Cincinnati presentation, let me just tell you that I can credit my great gams to all the walking I've been doing in my 'hood.

And thanks to car-free, I run into many of my wonderful friends or neighbors on a regular basis. You can't do that often when you're behind the wheel of a car.

So next time you find yourself in a bit of a dolldrum, come to my neighborhood and take a walk. Admire the architecture, the friendly and funky demeanor and savor some of our flavor goodness.

You'll soon find out why so many people in Over-the-Rhine are so freaking happy.
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Sunday, July 24, 2011

Goldilocks On The Dating Scene

With regard to the dating scene, who would be "just right" for our blonde beauty?

After years of experimenting and drawing conclusions of my own, I have some advice for Goldilocks, were I to pass her on the street.

Over cocktails and a nosh at the Bar at Palm Court, I'd tell one of my storybook faves about life as a single 30-something.

"Steer clear of men your own age," I'd say. Lots of my girlfriends and I agree - many of Cincinnati's trigenarian men are in a fierce battle with the Peter Pan Syndrome.

Others fancy themselves the Gatsby Incarnate.

It's not a condemnation, but rather a fact-of-life observation. Some of these sparkly souls are trying to revisit youth after spending their 20s in LTRs, and others cling on to life with the brahs for fear of getting tied down with a ball and chain and little chainlets.

I've long given my dating age range a wide berth - having been open to dating men 10 to 15 years my senior. A bad experience several years ago with a younger man (well, he was three years my junior, but quite more youthful with regard to maturity) turned me off to the 20-something set.

But I think it's time to reevaluate that stance.

I spent a good bit of the weekend with my 24-year-old sister and her boyfriend of the same age. Mickie gushed about my platinum blonde tresses and my recent weight loss. If that wasn't enough to boost my flailing ego, they both remarked several times about my youthful appearance.

"I told him, "Mickie's sister is in her 30s, but she doesn't even look like it. Really," my sister's boyfriend Corey shared with with one of their OU friends.

I'm not gonna lie. A swift smile spread across my sparsely wrinkled face.

I told the both of them - a youthful appearance comes with copious moisturizing and a deeply respectful relationship with SPF 30.

My mom tells me I look young because I don't have children.

Over the course of our evening visiting the great haunts of Cincinnati (can you go wrong with a night of Arnold's/Japp's/Shanghai Mama's?), Mickie told me I should really consider dating men ten years my junior.

"You're hot, Katy. And they would totally date you."

I can't remember the last time my kid sister said something so nice to me.

But you know what, she's right about one thing. It's time for me to be open to other possibilities. I've been far too picky for too long.

This urban Goldilocks needs to sample a few more options before she finds just right.

Speaking of finding just right, congratulations to the GLBT community in New York and today's first such marriages in the Empire State. Everybody, regardless of race, religion, creed, orientation and other points of diversity, deserves the right to celebrate marriage legally. Jesus had two dads and he turned out okay. Right? -Kate
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Friday, July 22, 2011

The Sip of Summer


That's not What Would Mary Do? That's What Would Molly Drink?

It's hotter than hell out there (I know - I've been there), and everyone and their mother is trying to beat the heat with cranked up air conditioning, huge jugs of icy cold water and other devices to beat the brutal heat.

Me? I like a good cocktail. Two at the very most (a double nod to Dorothy Parker and my love it/hate it diet regime).

I had the pleasure of chatting with Cincinnati cocktail doyenne Molly Wellmann of Japp's in Over-the-Rhine a couple weeks ago. One of my pressing questions - what is the drink of summer?

Surely one does not stroll into Japp's and order a gin and tonic. Right? Amiright?

Molly quickly brushed aside my worries. Yes, of course it's okay to order a G&T, Molly said with a smile. The master mixologist makes her own tonic, which she'll gladly pour in your glass, but she will likely encourage you to try a lesser known gin instead of your favorite standby.

"Have an open mind. Be open to another kind of gin. Don't be upset when you can't get Tanqueray," she winked.

Pressing on, I did ask Molly what else would make a good summer cocktail. When the mercury has hit a fever pitch and cocktail glasses start sweating before you can take a sip - what is the best, refreshing drink to order?

A sling is a thirst quenching option, usually because it fruity and fizzy, a perfect combination for a hot July night. Molly also recommends Gin Rickeys, what she calls the ultimate refreshing drink. Fizzy and laced with lime juice, this drink is without sugar, so get ready to pucker up.

A few other options include Southsides (a drink from the 70s - gin, lemon, triple sec and mint), a good ol' Noggin Cleanser and a Brunswick Sour (a rum drink topped off with red wine).

If you'd like to try something a little more adventurous, order an Armalito Chico. Molly says this is a drink that folks sipped on in Mexico City in the 1930s. It's a tequila drink with lime, grenadine (Molly makes her own), and a splash or orange blossom of chamomile tea.

Whatever you do, though, don't ask Molly to make you a Mojito. "You can get 'em anywhere. They're at TGI Fridays."

Duly noted.

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Monday, July 18, 2011

What Did You Do This Weekend?

Okay, so this was decidedly high roller.

I'm going to have to savor this for a while...

Stratus Helicopters offers a variety of aerial tours around Greater Cincinnati, with rides starting at $30 a person. We enjoyed "Tour Number 3" - $120 for two people. You can call 513-533-HELI to make a reservation, or show up at the Newport Riverboat Row public landing (next to B&B Riverboats) to see if they have an opening.

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Friday, July 15, 2011

Whoa, Molly

"A place for everyone."

That's how Molly Wellmann describes the vision she's long had for a neighborhood bar.

Molly and I first talked craft cocktails almost two years ago when she was tending bar at Lavomatic. A lot has happened since then - Molly left Lavo (along with the rest of the restaurant's original staff), the craft cocktail concept exploded in Cincinnati, and the historic Japp's since 1879 flung its Main Street doors back open June 23 after several years of vacancy.

I remember getting a text from Molly last Christmas Eve telling me the deal was close to closing. Almost seven months later, people are flocking to sip the mixologist's creations while sharing conversation in Main Street's newest space.

Conversation is the crux of Japp's. Molly envisioned a place where people would talk. That's why patrons will notice the conspicuously absent blaring music and TVs. "We don't have any sports fans, that's for sure," Molly said with a smile.

What Japp's does have, though, is ambiance perfect for first dates, friends setting off for a night on the town, and nightcaps to wrap an evening.

Since its opening, Molly has worked to develop a unique stock of liquor, much the way a curator amasses a priceless art collection. You won't find any Gray Goose behind the bar, but chances are you'll find something even better.

Last night alone, the Japp's crew offered a drink special featuring Chartreuse, a liqueur first made by French monks in the 1700s. As Molly talks about the lime green elixir, her eyes light up and her hands fly about, punctuating dates and other historic references.

To talk about cocktails with this tattooed beauty is to experience a history lesson, and that is completely by design.

"Every night, you should know what you're drinking. Not just the name of the liquor, but the history of the drink and the story behind what goes in it."

Much of what goes in your cocktail glass is crafted by Molly, herself. Her list of homemade items includes grenadine, bitters (tobacco, sunshine, clove and cinnamon), triple sec-flavored syrup and lime cordial.

She's also working on an IPA simple syrup for a beer cocktail to be featured sometime in the fall.

I don't know where this girl finds the time.

You don't have to wait until autumn to treat your taste buds to something special. The month of August brings with it weekend-only punches poured straight from giant apothecary vessels. Molly says they'll be delicious, unique, and sold at a friendly price point.

Also in the near future, don't be surprised if you see distillers and tenders offering tastes of special bottles brought in by Molly. You won't see a shot girl in sight, but what you will see, likely, is a crowd of people getting a lesson in a booze they've never had.

Sign me up.

Japp's since 1879 is located at 1134 Main Street. Craft cocktails run about $8. No beer on draft, but plenty of microbrews and imports to sip. Also on site, a special Tazza Mia coffee bar, complete with a Venus Century espresso machine - the same machine owned by the Pope.

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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

India: It's Africa Hot

Sweat soaked cotton is not comfortable, especially when it's stuck to your flesh.

Cincinnati is thick in the middle of a heatwave so oppressive it will make you jump at the chance to sell your first born for some time in the air conditioning/shade/swimming pool/you name it.

Imagine not having the opportunity to seek that relief.

Two months ago I got my first taste of the year's brutal heat. Traipsing through India, we shunned fitted clothes and other fashionable forays for comfort. Birkenstocks, linens, ponytails: The Wardrobe of Delhi.

Heat has a way of making you forgo the rituals of looking hot.

During our travels, I even managed to be interviewed by a national reporter about how I was surviving the heat wave in Jaipur (it was 110*, compared to Tuesday's forecast of a paltry 94* in Cincinnati). My answer wasn't rocket science - shade, air conditioning and chilled water.

Everywhere we went - India Gate, Ghandi's memorial, the Taj Mahal - we'd see people collapsed beneath trees, under the shade of bicycle rickshaws and other shady spaces.

Kids playing cricket beneath an overpass. You know... because it's shady.

You quickly realize these people aren't lazy. They're battling heat exhaustion.

I mentioned in previous posts about India the battling feelings of appreciation and guilt that washed over me as we traveled the subcontinent. The extreme heat and some of these people's challenges to find relief was just one reason for this torn contradiction.

Block print makers in Jaipur. If you were this hot, you'd wear a crop top, too.

Here at home, I had a moment of shame yesterday when I complained about the too-cold air conditioning blowing in my office. Then I strolled to the ice/water dispenser in the break room.

How quickly we forget.

Today, when I look at the mercury - virtual or otherwise - I'm going to work really hard to think about the blessings I do have. The many access points I have to enjoy air conditioning. The free and easy-to-find sources for clean, icy water.

A cool, refreshing shower hindered not by my resources, but only time.

And I'm going to start digging out my half shirts.
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Sunday, July 10, 2011

Feel The Burn

Quietly, I've been making some significant changes in my life.

About three months ago, I gravitated to an 80 percent vegetarian lifestyle. Intentionally, I've cut out a lot of the meat, and replaced it with a variety of fresh fruits, veggies and other lower calorie, high vitamin options.

The flavors pop, the produce fills me up more quickly, and I know I'm getting a great dose of vitamins and minerals.

When I got back from India seven weeks ago, I started drinking a lot more water and a lot less alcohol.

Challenging for this social butterfly, I've learned to pick up a Diet Coke or two over that extra Manhattan/glass of white wine/Blue Moon.

And four weeks ago I started running.

Okay, not Chariots of Fire running, but the Couch to 5K run/walking program, which serves up a great cardio workout and lots of sweating.

I don't know about you, but the only reason why I like sweating is because it's a sign my body's pushing itself.

I hopped on the scale for the first time Friday morning. It showed that I've lost about 15 pounds since my last doctor's visit in March, and about 10 pounds since before I went to India.

Those results are heartily welcomed by my wardrobe, much of which has been relegated to the recesses of my little walk-in closet.

I'm not trying to take on militant control with regard to this program.

If my mouth salivates at the sight of a burger or a slice of cake, so be it. I'd rather dabble in controlled indulgence than employ such extreme rigidity that it leads to complete reckless abandon.

That said, I've added a new facet to this regime: Weight Watchers. I've used the system about half a dozen times over the years, and I have a renewed enthusiasm thanks to the program's mobile apps and extensive online offerings.

I'm grateful for the positive reinforcement and copious compliments friends have given me upon seeing the changes in my physique. I can definitely appreciate some differences in my shape, and if you saw me naked regularly, you would notice, too.

You'll just have to trust me.

All of these tweaks lead up to a significant goal I haven't talked about much - some of my best girlfriends and I are heading out to San Diego to run the Carlsbad Half Marathon at the end of January.

No, I'm not crazy. I'm just determined.

It helps to have a far off goal to motivate me to run more, faster and longer. Right now, I'm running about two miles three times a week, and I know I could bang out a swift seven mile walk in one sitting. I'm pushing for more running, less walking and greater distance all around.

I can't wait to see what my body's gonna look like at the end of January.

If you see me along the way, please offer an encouraging word.

It's almost all the motivation I need.


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Thursday, July 07, 2011

I'm A Little Pretty Girl...

... trapped in a grownup's body.

I meant to share this with y'all a few weeks ago, but life got in the way, and this Norwegian princess-wannabee completely slipped my mind.

This video is a train wreck. You don't want to watch, but you have no willpower to stop.

I dare you to not get the chorus stuck in your brain.

And here's a great video by the "popstar," Trishii, courtesy of @JaytheBigLug. Who knew we shared a love of trashy, blonde pop bimbos?

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Monday, July 04, 2011

Independence Baby

I am the Spirit of '76.

Born a Bicentennial Baby, I am fiercely passionate about our nation's political system, human rights and the concepts of justice and independence.

I should have the Stars and Stripes tattooed on my ass, shouldn't I?

The fact is, this nation is full of millions of patriots, regardless of their birth date.

Patriotism is more than wearing shirts emblazoned with the American flag or defending your right to bear arms.

Our nation was founded on principles of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for We the People (a phrase that includes everyone, regardless of your political affiliation).

I am so proud to live in a nation where every person has the right and privilege to express their opinions without fear of retribution.

And I am truly joyous that our nation fosters ideas of free thought, inclusion and welcomed diversity.

America is truly beautiful.

And even at 235, she doesn't seem to be showing her age one bit.

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Friday, July 01, 2011

Socially Awkward

Some people might think I'm bitchy.

And they'd be wrong.

The fact of the matter is, my personality is the perfect storm of insecurity, shyness, self deprecation and confidence.

I can more clearly explain a few of the facets of my personality with a totally awesome Venn Diagram.

Okay, so let's break this down. A bit socially awkward when I meet new people, situations arise occasionally where I have difficulty engaging in conversation. If the person to whom I'm newly introduced is warm and gregarious, I have an easy time bantering and sharing clever quips. If the person is standoffish, dismissive or otherwise demonstrating traits of disinterest, I quickly clam up and lose any stream of conversation.

This probably isn't an unusual reaction for most people.

The problem is, I am actually shy and lukewarm out of the gate. This gives some folks the impression I'm aloof. That first impression couldn't be farther from the truth. (See the "bad" traits in red in the above diagram.)

With my closest relationships, I am really quite self deprecating, honest and even a bit bawdy (the good traits in blue above). I'm a brazen broad who's told a dirty joke or two and even sworn like a sailor on occasion.

Sue me. It's what happens when you work in the news business for about a decade.

An interesting thing happens, though, when you mix the company of my closest, most trusted relationships and several new faces I've never met.

The confidence and overly revealing tales that my friends enjoy have a way of sullying the impression I'm making with new company.

Some of my best loved qualities are the very traits that turn people off.

I've spent the past few years volunteering and aspiring to leadership opportunities in our community, and those experiences have given me the chance to polish my "public persona," similar to how a TV anchor has an on-air personality and one for the newsroom.

That public persona has been scrubbed down and streamlined into a caricature of myself - uber polite, fast friendliness, measured confidence.

It's the girl you see when I'm "on."

Beneath the veneer, there's still a girl who likes to sometimes say the F word and toss out double entendres with a raised eyebrow.

And more and more, only my closest allies are getting a chance to see that girl. With my trusted friends, I know they won't judge me for the things I say, do or think.

But strangers - they only get to see Miss Manners, and maybe a quiet Miss Manners, at that.

So. You want to get to know the real me? You want to get past the exterior of brief hellos and sheepish smiles?

Give me something to work with. Be open. Be a little bit gregarious.

I promise I'll respond in spades.

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