What I Learned This Week: #217

Monday, October 25 – Sunday, November 7, 2021 – Two Big Weeks

The Week in Halloween at the Office: I work in a fairly buttoned-up office, it’s not sterile…we laugh, we cry, we argue…but we don’t, ya’ know, cut loose.

Until this Halloween.

When management announced this year’s Halloween decorating contest, I’m very sure they pictured the sleepy office door decorating of years past. I’m also very sure they did not picture the explosion of competitive decorations that took over the entire office. Pandemic fatigue was spectacularly released in a torrent of creativity and dollar store/basement digs. By the time the judges showed up, the office looked like a Spirit Halloween warehouse. It was awesome.

The Week in New Food Development: This week I visited the new bar/food service spot Mid City and the new Cuban restaurant Latin House.

Newly opened, Mid City on Court Street, is from my bar pals at Longfellow. It’s decor is base on the dining car of old time cross continental trains and it’s cozy. The menu right now is very small both in terms of the number of selections (just 9 things on the printed menu) and that those selections are “small plates.” I expect the selection of food to be more varied and substantial when they expand their hours to include lunch. One thing I like about Longfellow that they carried to Mid- City, is that one or two things on the menu will be unusual for a bar. An English Muffin with pickle butter tops the Mid-City menu, but I opted for the off-menu special, grilled skewered chicken hearts and cippolini onions. Delicious. And I guarantee, the chicken hearts (or the pickle butter muffins) are not on any other menu or off menu in the city.

The other new spot, Latin House, takes over a greasy-spoon breakfast/lunch diner that didn’t make it through the Pandemic. Open 7 am – 3, like the previous place, Latin House serves Cuban inspired breakfast and lunch. For my first trip there, I ordered the Cubano, of course. I liked it. I think they got the bread right, which has been a downfall for Cincinnati restaurants offering Cuban sandwiches. It’s a family owned restaurant and you could see they take pride in what they do. Looking forward to eating there often.

The Week at the Movies, Part One – Language Lessons: I finally made it to Cincinnati World Cinema’s “new” home on Race Street. After years of renting screens at various places around town, CWW settled into the old Shakespeare Theater in 2019. Showing a handful of films each month, I hadn’t been able to work them into my schedule until this week…and I went twice!

First up was the 2021 bi-lingual platonic love movie Language Lessons. Starring and produced by Mark Duplas and Natalie Morales (she also directs), the film is a funny and sad story of how a relationship can grow through technology. Clever directing made the zoom-type communication easy to digest. It’s a lovely, small film.

The Week at the Movies, Part Two – Bubba Ho-tep: On Halloween night, I went back to CWW to see the 2002 Halloween buddy movie Bubba Ho-tep. The buddies are an aging Elvis Presley (Bruce Campbell) and JFK (Ossie Davis) who set out to save the residents of their East Texas nursing home from the curse of the mummy. It’s a fast-paced, very low budget, hilarious film.

The Week in Dogs: One of my friends had been trying to get a dog for her son earlier this year, but was not having any luck at the shelters which have been running very thin since Pandemic dog ownership has soared. She was presented with an opportunity to get a Great Dane puppy, not the size dog she had intended on, but a dog she felt she could handle (her Great Dane owning neighbor offered guidance). Raven is now 105 pounds with a little ways left to grow. She’s a sweetheart, who, very unexpectedly also had a growth on her paw that turned out to be cancerous. The vet had to remove a toe, which shouldn’t slow her down that much. Of course, a giant dog requires a giant, satellite dish of a cone of shame. It is really an impressive size, both the dog and the cone.

Satellite of shame

The Week in Planning: As November revved up, my thoughts turned to Thanksgiving prep. I already have my first batch of homemade chicken broth sitting in the freezer. I’m legendary for my “no store bought broth” stance for Thanksgiving Dinner. I’m proud of this!

We do a Friends-giving with about 20 people, and me and the host family have traditionally met a few weeks before to map out who is bringing what. There are lists and grids and instructions, all of which are based on notes we take from the previous year. This sounds very uptight, but really, it’s a roadmap with many stops and starts (and wine) along the way. I’ve got some more broth, desserts, and rolls to make in advance and to make room, I’m eating everything from my freezer for lunch and dinner this week. I love a good plan!

The Week in Soccer: The last game of Cincinnati’s new professional soccer club FCC was Sunday. In their inaugural season as a professional team, they stunk the place up, winning just one home game and finishing last, by a long shot, in their division. I was offered free tickets from a friend who couldn’t make the game and she offered them like this: “Would you like to go see another demoralizing loss from FCC on Sunday?” LOL! Welp, they lost. A lot of Atlanta fans were in the crowd to see their team win. As a long-suffering Bengals fan, I know when the Bengals play at home, the opposing team fans always have a big showing because tickets are readily available, and their team will probably win. I hope that’s not the role FCC will play, gracious but losing hosts for traveling sports fans. Maybe FC will win two home games next year. Maybe.

The Week in Celebration of Life, Part One: Sad to say, I went to two celebration of life this week. The first was for an old family friend, someone I haven’t seen in years, but my Mom is in close contact with. We went to the service, and to the gravesite for this one. Then we went to someone’s house for sandwiches and closure. It was my first Jewish burial and I was unfamiliar with the Kaddish Prayer, a 13th century, Aramic prayer spoken by the mourners to show that despite the loss, they still respect God. Prayers in ancient languages really make me think of the long line of human history.

The Week in Celebration of Life, Part Two: The second celebration of life was for my Aunt who passed away last month. The small event was held at an Italian restaurant which was chosen, in part, to pay homage to yearly pizza parties I used to throw when I owned a house.

For several years, every fall, I would have a pizza party where people made pizzas at their houses and we cooked them at mine. The first party had 8 attendees and 4 pizzas. The last one had over 30 people and over 20 pizzas. My Aunt loved that party and the last time she attended, she proudly brought a Pickle Pizza, a recipe she found on the internet. It was one of the best pizzas of the night.

Hearing that her daughter wanted to honor the fun we had at the pizza parties brought a lot of family tears. And yes, I ordered pizza.

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