Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Ahh... I Feel Better Now

I've been thinking a lot about work lately. Mostly because I spend most of my time there, but also because the fate of newspapers is something that people who work for newspapers like to think about. A lot.

I'm always up for chatter about the state of the press.

Today a friend of mine sent me this link to a Matt Taibbi piece about how while everyone was worrying about why Britney shaved her head, our media was neglecting stories about our president's 2008 proposed budget, which would make Bush's tax cuts permanent and hopes to repeal the Estate Tax.

Rich people's kids get richer. You know the story.

Immediately I was incensed by this article. I didn't read the byline at first (I thought it was some random blogger), so I didn't immediately realize it was written by a journalist, but even so, I was still pretty annoyed by it. And I like Matt Taibbi. Mostly.

But I was annoyed because I thought of all the people who probably complained about Britney and Anna Nicole making the headlines and taking the top stories on the news and I wondered, How many people who complained about it subscribe to newspapers? To magazines? How many read the periodicals that actually support solid reporting and investigative journalism?

As newspapers' and magazines' circulations continue to fall and ad revenue remains flat, more and more journalists all over the country fear the future of their roles at newspapers, or worse, are laid off. Editors who refuse to make more cuts are fired.

We gotta sell newspapers. And you know what? Britney can probably sell more newspapers than solid investigative journalism can. Not to mention there are fewer and fewer reporters doing investigative journalism because, well, in addition to those jobs being slashed, the rest of the reporters are busy covering Britney's latest rehab stint in the hopes that the paper sells a few more copies and makes a few more bucks so they might prove their worth and get to keep their jobs in the next round of cuts.

One of the best newspaper companies in this county, Knight Ridder, is gone now. It was sold last year because shareholders decided they weren't making enough money. Their jobs as newspapers in the Knight Ridder chain, it turns out, wasn't to provide quality journalism but rather to make shareholders more wealthy. (Reminder here that Knight Ridder reporters Warren Stroebel and Jonathan Landay were two of only a handful of reporters to doggedly call bullshit on WMDs and the justification for the War in Iraq.)

What did that mean to Knight Ridder shareholders? Nothing. What did shareholders think of the 84 Pulitzer Prizes the chain won? Nothing.

Which is why I think my parent company has it all figured out. Do they vie for Pulitzers? Not really. Is investigative journalism, First Amendment protections or government watch dog reporting on their list of priorities? Nope, nope and nope. Their sole concern is to make money.

They've figured it out that people don't care about Pulitzer Prizes or buy newspapers for their stellar investigative work on the plight of neglected soldiers at Walter Reed Hospital.

Why waste money on that when everybody just wants to see Britney's shaved head? That's what sells newspapers.

Anyway, if you're up late or have DVR, Frontline has a great series called News Wars: What's Happening to the News about some of this. Forget reading newspapers, I've been glued to my television watching people talk about newspapers.

End Rant


Monday, February 26, 2007

A Standing O And The Meaning of Y

The Cincinnati premiere of Kathy's Your Negro Tour Guide packed the house at Playhouse in the Park tonight. Her columns turned book turned one-woman show was clever, provactive, funny, scathing... Just like Kathy. And actress Torie Wiggins was so great I can't even describe what a terrific performance she gave.

In the spring of 2004, I was lucky enough to sit next to Kathy's mother (don't click this link unless you feel like tearing up) at a fund-raiser Kathy had for the homeless when Your Negro Tour Guide was first published.

For two years I did time with Kathy at the Journal-News, and then, like now, she always wrote under the byline Kathy Y. Wilson. I used to try and guess what the Y stood for, but eventually I gave up and said, "It's Kathy Y. Wilson, as in, WHY don't you just tell me." But she never would.

So sitting next her mother while we ate cornbread and pulled pork (two of my favorites), I casually asked her what the Y stood for. I didn't think she'd actually tell me, I guess because Kathy would never tell. I thought maybe they had some sort of agreement. They didn't, and she told me.

But I can't tell you. You'll have to do your own reporting.

Anyway, if Playhouse doesn't do a full production of Your Negro Tour Guide, I'll be completely disgusted. They have a rare opportunity to put on stage something from their own backyard that's new and challenging instead of the same ol' tired tripe that's always on stage. This is their chance.

After I snapped this photo, Kathy posed for another one she called her "Jazz Fest pose." I don't know what that means, and the photo is pretty funny, but I think this one better captures the moment.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Well, This Is Unfortunate

My dance training has made me a bad dancer.

I've been taking a modern/hip-hop/salsa/jazz class at the Cincinnati Ballet (above photos) and I absolutely love it.

It's ten songs of choreographed anarchy, and each week one song is ditched while a new one is added with new choreography. So basically if you've just started going, there are nine songs you don't know the moves to.

I went for the first time last month and was able to catch a few combinations here and there, but mostly I just flailed, kicked and did pirouette's four counts behind everyone else. But when I went again a week later, I was suprised at how much easier it was to pick up the choreography.

It was all muscle memory, because I certainly didn't retain any of the combinations from my first attempt.

And that's exactly why my dance training has made me a bad dancer. My mom signed me up for dance lessons (tap and jazz) when I was about six. I took lesson (including a brief year-long flirtation with ballet), for 14 years.

When I show up at a dance class I expect certain things, like to learn combinations. It's a mental exercise. When an instructor tells me to "chassé right and pas-de-bourrée on the left," I know exactly what to do.

But modern dance, especially hip-hop, isn't broken down like that. If there are names to the moves, I've never heard them. Instead, you just watch the instructor and mimick her. Mentally, it doesn't mean anything. There aren't steps I'm saying in my head so I'll know what to do next. The decision to change to another combination is based on the rhythm of the music, and hopefully when I hear those changes my muscles will remember what to do. Otherwise I just flail about until I can pick it up.

Saturday I was watching a dancer in front of me perform the leaps and turns and steps. She was cut from a dancer's mold - thin, lithe and graceful. I was enchanted by her. At first I was convinced she is a professional dancer. There's just no way you can come in off the street and move your body like that without dance lessons. She was fluid and effortless, with a natural abandon in her rhythm.

Then I thought, Nah, I bet she's not a professional dancer. Her body just knows how to move, while mine awaits directions.

You can see me in the back here, awaiting directions.

Tina, Come Get Some Ham!

Someone I know is one coupon closer to skipping to Bigg's for a free ham!

Friday, February 23, 2007

A Bright Sunshiny Day

My dad and I waiting as my mom picked up and sat back down all the items in the Andrew Wyeth exhibit gift shop.

They were here less than 24-hours. But that's not to say our visit wasn't chalked full of adventure.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Irritable Cat Syndrome

Cassady has "low-grade irritable bowel syndrome," according to the vet. Kitty IBS is common, apparently.

This means I get to feed him fancy vet food now (way more expensive) but I no longer spend my mornings and evenings cleaning up vomit.

His trip to the doctor Saturday morning had the vet raving about how "well-behaved" he is. Yes, he's a real angel. (I could feel the scars he's left on me perk up.) I was afraid of him until he was about 5.

Every night he would hide under my bed, wait for me to turn out the light and then viciously attack me as I climbed into bed. He drew blood. I had to chase him out with a broom.

He once had to be rescued by the Front Royal Volunteer Fire Department. They were not amused. He was less than appreciative.

Three years ago he threw a clot, which paralyzed his back legs. He still limps a little. And last spring he went missing for four days after plummeting from my third-story balcony.

Everyone who meets him thinks he's the sweetest kitty ever. That's his evil genius.

Obviously I'm completely smitten with him.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Falling Down

Friday morning as I was leaving for work I slipped on the Tall Drink of Water's icey stairs.

It seems to be going around.

I didn't fall though. Instead, I caught myself on the metal rail I was holding on to, and all my weight ended up on the skin between my bicep and the rail. The pinch mark doesn't look like much, but it hurts.

TDW, who was behind me, didn't even giggle. Not once. What a guy. Because I most certainly would have laughed.

Later I recounted the story to my dad after he told me about a recent ice battle of his own.

He slipped on the ramp leading to the shed, spilling the bucket of water he was carrying for his hunting dogs.

"Liked. To. Ripped. Myself. In two," he said. "I'd have been better off falling instead of flailing around like I did."

After the story he put my mom on the phone, who immediately demanded to know what kind of peanut butter I have.

"What makes you think I have peanut butter," I asked.

"Because I always told you if you have peanut butter you'll never starve."

Hmm... I have two jars of Jif. No danger of me starving then. (Interestingly, starving - actual starving, not just being hungry - is something my mom has always been somewhat concerned about.)

"I had the recalled kind, " she said. "I probably ate a half a jar of it."

Which is strange, she added, because usually she buys Jif.

"It's whipped," she said. "I threw it out. It wasn't very good anyway."

Especially not now, we agreed.

Then we went on to talk about how we giggle when we're not supposed to.

Friday, February 16, 2007

A Dancer For Money ($80 To Be Exact)

As you can see, Rob's been working out.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

People Get Engaged at Restaurants, Right?

The Tall Drink of Water and I had a delicious dinner at Jeff Ruby's downtown tonight in celebration of Valentine's Day and his recent promotion.

Mmm, Mmm, Mmm. Damn it was good. My steak was perfectly well-done and his was perfectly bloody and purple. Just like we like them.

Since we were eating at a Valentine's Day hot spot, I was hoping to see an engagement. I've never been anyplace when someone has gotten engaged, so I had high hopes some dude would get down on one-knee tonight and cause a stir.

As we were putting on our coats, I told TDW I was bummed no bling popped up in a piece of cheesecake or anything.

"Do people actually do that? I thought that was something that just happened in movies," he said.

"I think they do," I said. "Don't I know someone who knows someone that got engaged at a restaurant?"

We shrugged and left.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Have You Seen This Blogger?

Because there has been a noticable - very noticable - lack of updates on his blog.

Perhaps the The Tall Drink of Water has been too busy playing video games at Target to post.

In other blog news, Kari has joined the party. Ow! Ow!

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Ball State, Miami Game

What happens when working-class, blue-collar kids from Indiana face off against the pink, well-fed progeny of the Midwest's doctors and laywers? The Indiana kids lose. Again.

This afternoon the Tall Drink of Water and I headed to Oxford for our fourth Ball State vs. Miami basketball game.

Every time we go, Ball State loses and I get all sorts of bent out of shape. Which is weird, because I don't even care about Ball State. It's just that I hate Miami that much. (I went to only one game when I attended Ball State, and that was to see Bonzi Wells because someone else wanted to.)

"What was it like to be in a frat," I like to ask TDW.

"I wasn't in a frat."

"Well, not technically. But attending Miami makes you a frat-boy," I tell him.

One the way through the parking lot of BMWs, Escalades and Jeeps, I asked him what it was like to be rich enough to attend Miami.

"What kind of lawyer is your dad?" He said, "The rich kind."

Pre-game happiness. (Sort of. Just after this photo, TDW said, "That shirt makes you look fat.")

More boring dance team choreography, I have not seen. (They should watch Dancelife and take notes.) The cheerleaders were even more boring. But when did dance teams take all the cool away from the cheerleaders?

This game is boring. I'm bored.

Post-game. Much less happy.

Nice font, Miami.

Told ya. Frat boy.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

The Long Drive Home (White Death Edition)

My first mobile blog. Woo hoo!

In my hour long commute home (traveling 3.5 miles), I saw five cars stuck in the snow. Bummer.

It was smooth (though slow) sailing for the Blue Angel and me until the end. When I hit my street I stepped on the gas to get a running start on the hill. My speedometer read 40, but I was going no where. Really it was just a long fish-tail burnout up the incline. I could smell the rubber.

But the Blue Angel (along with some deft driving by yours truly) performed like a rock star.

The snow is no match for us.

Going nowhere fast.

Still life of snowy tire.

It's white out there.

View from the front.

View from the back.

Home sweet home.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Gina's World

Interesting day Friday.

First thing in the morning I had an interview with Victoria Browning Wyeth, grand-daughter of painter Andrew Wyeth, at the Cincinnati Art Museum. Wyeth's watercolors and drawings, including several early scribbles of his iconic painting, Christina's World, are on exhibit through May 6.

The exhibit is staggering, and you really must go see it. To see the early studies of what would become one of the best known paintings of the 20th Century is incredibly rare and magical, like seing a shooting star or reading a really great book. Moreover, the pieces in the exhibit haven't been seen in the United States in ten years. So it's rare in-and-of itself, and also rare is the opportunity to see them.

When I walked in to the Art Museum the security guard told me he thought I was Victoria Browning Wyeth.

"You favor her," he said. "Only your hair is longer."

You know how when someone tells you you look like someone else you're kind of offended because you look at them and think, "Umm... Not even close." Well, in this case, he was right, because when I saw Victoria, I could see why he would say that. It was peculiar to look at her and see myself in her features. It must be what twins feel like.

Then he asked me if I worked for CiN, then if CiN was owned by The Enquirer. I told him yes and yes.

"I can't read you then," he said.

When I asked him why not, he said because the Enquirer is racist and that all of the reporting is biased. He went on to tell me that his opinion dates back to 1978 when the Enquirer covered the shooting deaths of two people.

So I asked him if he reads any other newspapers instead. He told me he reads USAToday.

"But you realize that the Enquirer, CiN and USAToday are all owned by the same company, right?" I asked him.

He said yes but that it didn't matter. He only hated the Enquirer and CiN by proxy. Then he admitted that he does look at CiN for the "party photos" which, according to our Web traffic, is what everybody looks at.

About that time the PR woman for the CAM came up, overheard this conversation and was surely mortified, because when I was leaving the security guard stopped me and was very apologetic, saying he hoped I wasn't upset with him or the art museum.

I felt bad for him. I assured him that neither was the case, that I am more than used to handling criticism about the paper. Though usually people complain to me that their paper didn't get delivered.  

After that was when I met the lively, 28-year-old Victoria Browning Wyeth, who overwhelmed me by how personable and lighthearted she was. (She practically sat down on top of me as we chatted.) She told me stories about her "grandpa Andy," including that he loves black turtlenecks and is absolutely adorable at nearly 90-years-old.

I asked her if he ever had any idea that Christina's World would become so famous. She said she doubted it.

"Everyone in the family hated it," she said, touching my arm for emphasis. "They thought it was terrible!"

She was wildly entertaining. As I was leaving I saw her in the hallway chatting with someone. As I walked by she yelled, "Wear something sexy tonight!" (She was talking about the Wyeth reception later that evening.)

"Girl, you know how I roll," I said.

After the opening reception was over, as I was waiting for The Tall Drink of Water to come pick me up to spare me from having to walk back to the car in the cold, I moseyed over to where the food and drinks were earlier, only to find that they'd been taken down.

"Have they done away with the refreshments," a well-dressed man in probably his sixties asked me.

"I'm afraid so," I told him. Then I went to look at the collection while I waited.

A minute or so later he reappeared beside me, introduced himself and shook my hand.

"I occasionally come here on Wednesdays, for One World Wednesday," he said.

"Yeah, I come here for One World Wednesday sometimes, too."

"And afterwards we sometimes go to Andy's. What street is that on?"

"Nassau," I said.

"Well, we could go there for something to eat."

His invitation surprised me. It was so fluid and so casual that it caught me off guard.

I told him I'd love to but that I was waiting for my boyfriend to pick me up.

"Ahh, he went to get the car. Well then, perhaps I'll see you on a Wednesday evening sometime."

And that was that.

Actually, that isn't that. The day had far more strange happenings than just these, but it would take too long to write about all of it.