Fleetwood’s Mac

I’m sorry. I am a punster. I make puns on a regular basic. If you’re the sort of person who believes that good puns do exist, you would likely call them bad puns. Others think the phrase “bad puns” is simply redundant. Sometimes I try to defend my puns and sometimes I just ignore the groans as if the pun was entirely accidental. Sometimes I apologize.

The “sorry” that leads off this post is not an apology. It describes the way I felt when I discovered that I’d missed one of the most obvious puns to ever come my way. I was catching up on Tripadvisor reviews earlier this week and pulled up my own trip journal to check dates and notes. It was close to two months ago that I stopped into Fleetwood’s on Front Street for a beer. The restaurant/lounge is owned by Fleetwood Mac’s drummer, Mick Fleetwood.

It was the day of the NCAA Championship game and I ended up watching the entire game there while listening to some very good live music. I got hungry. It was too early for the full dinner menu but a lounge menu was available with several very tempting items. I opted for the crab macaroni & cheese. It was terrific with small bits of crab meat in every bite. I praised it in my journal and I included a picture but somehow missed the pun that makes up today’s title. I didn’t miss it this time. I’m sorry.

French Toast and Battle Ax Plug

Carl Graham Fisher, the primary mover and shaker behind the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and both the Lincoln and Dixie Highways, had lots of stories. One in particular is popular among road fans and was originally told by Fisher to partially explain his interest in improving roads and their marking. I’ve heard and read multiple versions of the story and am totally unequipped to distinguish embellishments from additional accurate details. So here’s a version of the story which I believe to be true at its core and possibly in some of the details, too.

Fisher and some friends had taken a day trip from Indianapolis and were returning in the dark and rain. They came to a point where three roads joined together but none of them could remember which they used earlier in the day. After some inconclusive discussion, they noticed a sign which they thought might indicate which road led back home. It was mounted high on a pole and unreadable in the dark and wet. It was somehow determined that Fisher would climb the pole to read the sign. Some say he climbed the pole once and had to return to the ground for matches. Some say that the first few matches sputtered or were doused by the rain. Some say that it was his very last match that provided a glimpse of the sign’s message. All versions agree on what that message was. Hoping for the name of a town or other landmark, all he saw was “Chew Battle Ax Plug”.

Prior to Tuesday, that funny and revealing story supplied 100% of my knowledge of Battle Ax Plug. On Tuesday I was on my way to Greenville, Ohio, and had left home with enough time in the schedule to try out a new restaurant on the way. I jogged off of my normal path to reach the town of Arcanum. It is a small town in the county I grew up in but I don’t remember much about it and doubt I ever knew all that much. I’d heard good things about the restaurant’s food but knew almost nothing about it beyond that. It was quite a happy surprise to see the big Battle Ax sign that heads this article on the side of the building housing the restaurant. I’ve since learned a little more about the brand.

Battle Ax Plug was the very definition of a “loss leader”. Between 1895 and 1898, US tobacco companies were embroiled in the “Plug Wars”. Another aptly named combatant was the Scalp Knife brand from Liggett  and Meyers. The American Tobacco Company lost about a million dollars a year with their Battle Ax brand but emerged from the wars with approximately 90% market share. The fading slogan on the sign’s ax head is “A GREAT BIG PIECE FOR 10 CTS.” Those were, back in the day, fighting words.

The building behind the sign has its own story and it’s a great one. Built by John Smith in 1851, it housed the family store until 1985. At its closing it was the longest operating family owned business in Ohio. It began as a typical general store offering an assortment of dry goods but eventually meat, produce, and other grocery items were added as were men’s and women’s clothing.

Yes, I certainly got distracted but I did eventually make it to breakfast. One of the places where I’d heard good things about Old Arcana was Ohio Magazine which named their French Toast the best in the state. The magazine quotes co-owner Leslie Handshoe-Suter calling the toast “decadent” and it certainly is. The full name is Bourbon Praline French Toast. Following the meal — and some really good coffee — I chatted with chef and co-owner Jeff Besecker about the menu, the business, and the building. Jeff pointed out the building’s owner, Angie, sitting at one on the tables and I also chatted with her and a table mate who had worked in the store that once filled the entire building. Angie operates Smith’s Merchants which shares the building with the restaurant.

When I first saw the round windows in the Smith Building, they made me think of the round openings I had seen in electric train power stations. When I later learned that the electric powered Dayton & Union interurban once occupied the gravel path in the left half of this picture I’d have almost certainly grasped the power station theory even tighter if I didn’t already know that it wasn’t at all possible. Before I even spoke with Jeff, I’d learned from my waitress that the windows were original from the 1850s and from Jeff and Angie I learned that the building was in constant use as a store during the interurban’s coming and going in the early twentieth century. Headquarters for the Arcanum Historical Society is just out of frame to the left of that last picture. It’s open on some Saturday mornings so I think I’ll come back, learn some more about this town I grew up near, and try another item from that inviting breakfast menu.

A Tenderloin Tasting

edi01I was invited to join a few road fans at a new-to-me drive-in on Wednesday and that’s just what I did. Although I was not even aware that Edward’s Drive-In existed it has long been an Indianapolis, Indiana, fixture. It opened in 1957 as a Dog ‘n’ Suds. When owner Herb Edwards later went independent he gave the restaurant his own name. A 1978 tornado and a 2006 fire led to significant changes and additions so that the place looks quite a bit different and is a whole lot bigger that the original root beer stand. However, the curb service that was available in 1957 is still offered today.

edi02Indiana is known for big pork tenderloin sandwiches and Edward’s was among the first to serve the popular bun busters. From the beginning the meat was pounded into shape and breaded on site and that’s still the case today. The current menu is fairly large but the three things in the picture are what people are most likely to associate with Edward’s Drive-In. The tenderloin is good and certainly holds a place in Indiana tenderloin history but it’s not the best I’ve ever had. The hand-dipped onion rings just might be. The tasty house made root beer is perfect for washing it all down.

edi03The neon trimmed entrance makes a nice spot to photograph dinner companions Dean Kennedy, Jenny McGinnis, and Jennifer & Pat Bremer. Good food tastes even better when seasoned with good conversation.

Ohio Predictions

ghd2016_01If I’d had any confidence that I would actually attend a Groundhog Day event this year, I might have posted a canned article last week and saved the Happy Imbolc piece for today to be fleshed out with the latest news. But the truth is that I wasn’t sure I would make it to Buckeye Chuck‘s dawn pronouncement until just minutes before I was on the way. I was noncommittal when I went to bed on Monday. If I woke up in time and in the mood to go, I would, but I set no alarm clock and told myself that sleeping through the whole thing would be just fine. I awoke at 4:04, four minutes past what I had decided was the ideal departure time. There was slack in that ideal time but I waffled for a few minutes before finally deciding to go. I hit the shower and then the road and reached Marion, Ohio, right about 7:00. The photo of Buckeye Chuck in his cage was taken at 7:03.

ghd2016_02The gathering in Marion isn’t nearly as large as the one in Punxsutawney but it is respectable. Radio station WMRN has been offering localized groundhog predictions since the late 1970s when Charlie Evers started sharing those provided by groundhogs in the neighboring woods with listeners. That led to a naming contest that produced the name Buckeye Chuck and Evers was instrumental in getting the Ohio legislature to proclaim Buckeye Chuck the state’s official groundhog in 1979. The original Buckeye Chuck was present today, patiently posing for photos. Evers has moved on but is still a force in the area with a show on radio station WWGH.

ghd2016_04ghd2016_03A WMRN Groundhog Day tradition is providing free ground hog, in the form of Spam sandwiches, to everyone present. That’s Buckeye Chuck’s current partner and translator, Scott Shawver taking the first bite of his. I had my own which I consumed with less ceremony but possibly more enthusiasm.

ghd2016_05ghd2016_06Broadcasting from the stage near Buckeye Chuck went live at 7:15, just a few minutes before Shawver bit into that sandwich. Sunrise was at 7:41. The time in between was filled with the reading of a couple of proclamations, including one from Marion Mayor Scott Schertzer and assorted banter from Shawver and co-host Paul James. When they began wondering about who had come the farthest, I thought I might be in the running but the first question, “Anyone from out of state?”, turned up a couple from New Jersey. They visit a different groundhog each year. Last year it was General Beauregard Lee near Atlanta, Georgia, and they have been to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania “many times”. Clouds continued moving steadily on and by the time the sun popped over the horizon the sky was pretty much clear. Buckeye Chuck saw his shadow, an indicator that six more weeks of winter should be expected, instantly.

ghd2016_07The mildly disappointed crowd dispersed rather quickly although some took advantage of the daylight to get a better view or a better picture of Buckeye Chuck while Shawver and James wrapped up the program. I dawdled a bit before walking to the car. Deciding to drive to Marion was as far as my morning planning had progressed. Just before climbing into the car, I asked the only person standing nearby if he knew of a good place for breakfast. “No,” he said with a laugh, “I’m from Cleveland.”

ghd2016_08Scanning signs and storefronts as I drove back through Marion,I spotted a likely looking place near the center of town. I took the photo as I left. The street in front of Baires Restaurant was completely empty when I arrived. A guy at the counter and another in a booth were drinking coffee and chatting with each other when I entered. Service was somewhat slow but the lone woman on the business side of the counter seemed pretty busy in the cooking area so I didn’t think too much of it. The first person to enter after me was a fellow on a walker. As he worked his way into the seat next to me and against the wall, I asked, thinking it might be easier, if he would rather sit where I was. “This one’s got my name on it,” he laughed and he meant it. He pointed to a small brass plate on the back of the swivel stool marking it as his regular seat. The cook/waitress immediately appeared with his grapefruit which I had noticed her preparing earlier. My food arrived as I chatted with my new neighbor and learned that the restaurant normally opened at 8:30. It was not yet a quarter past when I entered and what I took to be slow service was more than I had a right to expect. Now that the place was officially open, a number of people entered with new folks greeted, usually by name, by those already there. As I paid my bill, I joked with the person I now realized was cook/waitress/owner about me busting in early and she grinned. “Oh, you’re alright.” In case there is any question, I had sausage & eggs.

ghd2016_10ghd2016_09One of the reasons I had been so nonchalant about possibly sleeping through Buckeye Chuck’s emergence was that I had a Plan B. The day’s big event at Boonshoft Museum of Discovery, where I’d watched a groundhog named Rosie make her prediction in 2013, was aimed toward a much younger crowd and was scheduled for a comfortable 10:00 AM. I hadn’t even thought about it after starting toward Marion but I got curious as I was about to select “Home” on the GPS, and tapped Boonshoft instead. When I did, I realized that, without the breakfast stop, I probably could have worked in both Chuck and Rosie. Since it made the time to home only slightly longer, I proceeded to the museum. The last load of attending school children were about to climb aboard their bus when I arrived. Rosie’s appearance had taken place more than forty minutes earlier but I coud see the official result. She agreed with Chuck.

Not many did. Punxsutawney Phil predicted an early spring as did all the other U.S. groundhogs on my short list consisting of Staten Island’s Charles G. Hogg, Illinois’ Woodstock Willie, and Georgia’s General Beauregard Lee. The only groundhog of note that I found agreeing with Chuck and Rosie lives in Canada but not all Canadians are of the same mind, either. In Ontario, Wiarton Willie sided with the Ohio rodents in predicting more winter while Shubenacadie Sam claims an early spring is on the way in Nova Scotia.


imbolc2016As stated in last week’s post, I had no plans to be awake at 4:30 AM Thursday. That was when Imbolc, the midpoint between Winter Solstice and Vernal Equinox, occurred this year. Neither did I have plans to assure that I was asleep at that time but that seemed the most likely and it is indeed what transpired. I didn’t miss it by too much, though. The picture at left was taken at 5:22, a mere fifty-two minutes past Imbolc. Admitedly I can’t prove it but I strongly suspect that the view from my bed was pretty much the same at the magic moment as it was less than an hour later.

Happy Imbolc

gknob2010Groundhog Day has long been one of my favorite holidays. In fact, attending America’s biggest Groundhog Day event in Punxsutawney, PA, was among the first things I did with the newly available time that retirement brought. The photo at right was taken at 4:58 AM, February 2, 2010. Sunrise was more than two hours away and the temperature was four degrees Fahrenheit. I had a good time and I’m glad I went but the experience did not lead to plans for an annual return. Standing outside in pre-dawn single-digit temperatures is something I prefer to discuss in past tense only.

I credited my original fondness for Groundhog Day to a belief that it had no religious connections and was basically folklore that had been adopted by some Pennsylvanians largely to promote silliness. While both of those claims are sort of true, there is more to it. I started to doubt the “no religious connections” when I discovered that America’s Groundhog Day shares its February 2 date with Christianity’s Candlemas. But sharing a date doe not a connection make and there are no direct ties apparent between Groundhog Day and any of the three events (presentation of the child Jesus, Jesus’ entry into the temple, and Mary’s purification) Christians attribute to the day.

February 1 is also a day recognized by Christians. It is the day that Saint Brigid of Ireland is reported to have died and is celebrated as her feast day. Before Saint Brigid was born (in 451 they say) a Gaelic festival was celebrated about this time to honor a goddess also named, perhaps by coincidence though probably not, Brigid. I have to say “about this time” because man-made calendars had not yet taken over and feast days were not yet tied to specific numbers on pages. Brigid’s was associated with a point halfway between Winter Solstice and Vernal Equinox called Imbolc which happens near the beginning of what we call February. In 2016 it occurs at 4:30 EST February 4.

Without donut shops and corner diners, it isn’t clear where ancient Irish farmers gathered to talk about the weather but it’s a safe bet that they did. Around Imbolc, the coming spring would have been a big topic. Farmers without donut shops and cable television are quite observant of their environment and they no doubt noticed that bright clear days in the middle of winter were usually a little colder than cloudy ones. With Imbolc being the most “middle of winter” you can get, giving some special significance to the weather on that day was likely fairly natural. That’s about as close to science that the groundhog and shadow story gets.

I’m guessing that making a determination at sunrise was also fairly natural. Even if those early farmers were capable of determining Imbolc’s exact moment — and I’m not saying they weren’t — in those years when it did not occur during the daytime they weren’t about to get up in the middle of the night to see if the sun was shining. The crack of dawn probably seemed about right.

So there really are no direct connections between Groundhog Day and religion and there is plenty of silliness in its fairly recent (1887) use to bring fame to a small Pennsylvania town but its timing is firmly linked to the workings of the solar system and there is a tiny bit of logic in it being a day to make weather predictions. If nothing else, the days around Imbolc are most likely the coldest of the year meaning there’s a good chance that it’s all up-thermometer from here.

My 2010 Punxsutawney visit is here. I will, as usual, celebrate Groundhog Day on Tuesday by consuming pork sausage at some point. I have no plans to be awake at 4:30 Thursday to observe Imbolc.

Road Crew in the Fork

pgsPuckett’s Grocery & Restaurant is the target of this trip but there will be some stops along the way. Puckett’s is in Leiper’s Fork, Tennessee, which, for me, is a little beyond Nashville. I have Music City evenings planned for the Bluebird Cafe and the Grand Ol’ Opry at Ryman Theater before my evening with “America’s Route 66 Band”, The Road Crew, at Puckett’s. You know the saying, “When you come to a Road Crew in the Fork, take it.”

The journal for the trip is here. This entry is to let blog subscribers know of the trip and to provide a place for comments.

Almost Dixie ‘Burgers

adb01I attended a Dixie Highway presentation on Thursday. It was in Cridersville, Ohio, about a hundred miles north of my home. Another fan of old roads, Russell S. Rein, lives about the same distance north of Cridersville as I live south of it and he would also be attending the event. In fact, it was Russell who had made me aware of it. Since Criderville is very near Lima, Ohio, Russell suggested we meet at the downtown Kewpee Restaurant there for dinner. I’d actually been thinking of that myself so needed no convincing. We had a plan.

adb02It was a fine looking day so, with ample time for the drive, I set off to follow the Dixie Highway, more or less, to Lima. In Troy, I slipped about a block off of the route to visit K’s Hamburger Shop. The Dixie Highway Association disbanded a few years before K’s 1935 birth and, although there are sources that describe its route as running right in front of K’s on what is now OH 41, it’s more likely that the highway turned south on Market Street just a little west of the shop. Unbeknownst to me, K’s celebrated their 80th anniversary on July 31. I’m sure sorry I missed that but I did have a hamburger and a piece of pie today for a belated one man party.

adb03Kewpee Hamburgers began in 1923. This location opened the same year that the Dixie Highway closed, 1928. The highway ran a few blocks west of the restaurant so, while it was closer in time to the Dixie than K’s, it was a tiny bit farther away in distance. The Kewpee also has wonderful pies but I opted for some soft-serve frozen yogurt to go with my ‘burger.

adb04adb05Russell arrived shortly after I did and we had plenty of time to eat and chat. Of course, we chatted just a little longer than we had time for and arrived at the presentation as the speaker was being introduced. Fortunately, the common aversion to front row seats meant we didn’t have to climb over anyone to reach the empties. The speaker being introduced was retired educator LaRee D. Little who we later learned is the father of Ohio Lincoln Highway League president Scott Little.

Little opened with a nice overview of what the Dixie Highway was and how it came to be. He fleshed things out with stories of his own journeys on the Dixie, which began as a youngster traveling with his parents, and and a series of slides that included some photos from those journeys. There is an announcement for the Auglaize County Historical Society event here and a video report on it here. I don’t believe either Russell or I learned anything new about the Dixie Highway but the presentation was quite entertaining and I’m betting that some of the others did learn a thing or two. Regardless, it sure was nice to see a whole room full of people showing interest in the Dixie Highway.

A Pretty Fair Week

gdcf15_01Once upon a time, all of Ohio’s county fairs preceded the state fair but not anymore. In fact, only 29 of the 88 opened their gates before those of the biggie in Columbus this year. When I attended the state fair a few weeks ago, I mentioned that I make it to the fair in my original home county from time to time. This year I made it to The Great Darke County Fair on Monday which is, among other things, Senior Citizens Day. It’s a day when folks over 60 or under 12 and ministers of any age get in free. Yes, I am cheap.

gdcf15_02gdcf15_03Darke County is the Horseshoe Pitching Capital of the World so finding a tournament in progress wasn’t much of a surprise. Some of these guys can throw more consecutive ringers than I can take consecutive steps without tripping.

gdcf15_05gdcf15_04It’s another sort of competition that is at the heart of all fairs and I got to see just a little of the Junior Fair Dairy Show. I believe the fellow in the second picture placed third and he couldn’t have been happier.

gdcf15_06gdcf15_07gdcf15_08I hate to knock the Ohio State Fair but the only “amazing creatures” I saw there were “The World’s Smallest Woman” and “Snake Girl”. The Great Darke County Fair has a whole menagerie plus a giant horse. Of course, the midway also had plenty of games, rides, and food. The pictured food stand certainly isn’t the flashiest or exotic. I’m including it for personal reasons. I have a real weakness for ice cream made the old-fashioned way in a mixer cranked by an old hit-or-miss engine. Doubly so on an apple dumpling.

gdcf15_11gdcf15_10gdcf15_09When I saw that this was the day of the High School Marching Band Spectacular, I decided to hang around to see the band from my old school. I got there just a little late and missed one band. It took me awhile but I eventually figured out that the band I had missed was my old school, Ansonia. I still enjoyed the show.

gdcf15_12gdcf15_13Even though I get back to the fair every few years, it’s been quite a while since I’ve seen a dark Darke County Fair. I probably should have stayed around to ride to the top of that Ferris wheel but it was getting chilly and I was ready to head home.


gets15_03gets15_02gets15_01I visited fair grounds again on Thursday but it wasn’t for a fair. It was for the Tri-State Gas Engine and Tractor Association‘s 50th Antique Engine & Tractor Show on the Jay County Fair Grounds in Portland, Indiana. Terry, a long time friend who collects Wheel Horses, has exhibited at the show for many years. Dale, another long time friend, lives reasonably close and has attended the show on several occasions. This was my first time but I knew I’d be in good hands. I arrived a few minutes ahead of Dale which gave me a chance to snap a few pictures of Terry (on left in third picture) and his tractors. The Massey-Ferguson and Simplicities in the foreground belong to Terry’s brother, Joe.

gets15_04gets15_05gets15_06As expected, there was no shortage of gas engines including plenty of the hit and miss variety. A sizable percentage were not running and probably couldn’t without considerable effort while others were hard at work doing things like making (or at least pretending to make) ice cream. Some were running but were just relaxing and blowing smoke rings. One display prompted me to attempt a rare video to show one solution to the aggravation of having an engine that works and a console TV that doesn’t.

gets15_09gets15_08gets15_07I would quickly discover that the show contained about as many things that I had not anticipated as those that I had. Maybe I should have expected this display of unusual Crosley vehicles, Terry had shown me a photo of the motorcycle from a previous year’s show, but I didn’t. Some, like the motorcycle, are factory prototypes while others, such as the first open-wheeled Crosley-powered racer I’ve ever seen, were aftermarket customs.

gets15_10gets15_11gets15_12This would have been completely unexpected if I hadn’t heard the announcer mention it over the PA. As soon as I heard the phrase “spark plug collector” I knew it was a hobby as natural — and as endless — as postcard collecting. I was thinking only of the multitude of brands and sizes but soon discovered that there were variations I had never dreamed of. Some early designs had an opening which allowed cylinders to be primed with fuel. Others had two connectors to support both coil and magneto ignitions. There were a variety of multi-piece designs that could be used to fashion quick disconnect plugs so that fouled electrodes could be changed during racing pit stops. Besides being surprised but the many wild plug designs, I was somewhat surprised that Terry and Dale (in the first photo) were almost as unfamiliar with them as I was — but I didn’t let it show.

gets15_13We all learned something here, too. At first I thought it was showing different types of fencing like some barbed wire displays I have seen. Then I thought it might be showing different methods of splicing pieces of wire. The truth was so much better. These are variations of Check Row Planter Wires which were first patented more than 160 years ago. The wires were stretched across a field and carefully placed “buttons” would trigger the dropping of seeds from a sled pulled along their length. A slightly more readable copy of the explanatory placard is here.

gets15_14gets15_15Almost everyone knows about Gibson guitars, greeting cards, wines, appliances, and other items but I doubt many know about Gibson tractors. I didn’t. Produced between 1946 and 1952, internet searches indicate that the tractors were made in Colorado although the company was based in Seattle, Washington. This was an at least rare, if not unique, instance where one 1947 model Gibson took a photograph of another.


lsd_tshrOh, and one more thing. In between the cows and the tractors, I went to a concert at The Southgate House Revival. Tuesday marked my second time seeing Lake Street Dive. As part of his introduction, WNKU’s Ken Haynes asked how many had also attended their only other area appearance and a number of hands, including mine, went up. “Well,” he said. “They’re two years better.” He was off a little on the calculation (That show was March 4, 2014.) but right on regarding the better and they were fantastic the first time around.

Dandy Trail

pic08bEver wonder what it would be like to drive to a city a hundred miles away, drive half a circle around the city for breakfast, then drive the other half circle and go home? If so, you’re kind of weird but I can answer that question for you. On Sunday, I drove to Indianapolis, followed the circular Dandy Trail around the city, and met friends for breakfast in a west side suburb.

The journal for the trip is here. This entry is to let blog subscribers know of the trip and to hold any and all comments

Celebrating

bd2015_00The Findlay Market Opening Day Parade was a full thirty hours away and my birthday had barely begun when last week’s post went up. Here’s an update.

Last Sunday was a long way from blisteringly hot but it was reasonably warm (60s), dry, and sunny. I spent much of the day driving a familiar loop along the banks of the Ohio River. I haven’t decided whether or not the new chapeau is a keeper but I got it for almost nothing with an about to expire credit and I’m going to give it a chance.

bd2015_01bd2015_02Breakfast was had at Brew River Gastropub in Cincinnati. Even though I cringe at the word “gastropub”, I’d stopped in here one night for beer and live music and decided it was OK. It’s location on Riverside Drive and a reputation for a  good Sunday brunch made it a reasonable choice for a place to start the day. My Easter eggs came in what is essentially an omelette known as “Eggs Du Drop”. It was quite good with house-made goetta, Irish Cheddar, and green onions. From there it was east along the river’s north bank, a crossing at Maysville, and a return to Cincinnati on the Kentucky side.

od2015_04od2015_03od2015_02On Monday I parked near Arnold’s with the intention of having breakfast there as I did last year but it was simply too crowded. Instead, I stopped in at the Sports Page Restaurant for another helping of geotta. That made timing just about perfect for a one beer test of Cincinnati’s newest brewery. Taft’s Ale House had planned to open last fall but, when construction surprises made that impossible, decided to open in sync with the Reds. Today was the official grand opening and, while they didn’t make enough to cover their $8 million investment, they got a good start.

odp2015_01odp2015_02odp2015_03I had time to snoop around the staging area a bit then found myself a good spot just a few blocks into the route as the parade started. This year’s Grand Marshalls were the Nasty Boys from the 1990 World Champion Reds. Relievers Norm Charlton, Randy Myers, and Rob Dibble had a combined 44 saves as the Reds stayed in first place for the entire season. Other local sports figures were also on hand including the only Bengal in the NFL Hall of Fame (Anthony Munoz) and a key piece of the Big Red Machine (George Foster).

odp2015_04odp2015_05odp2015_06odp2015_07odp2015_08odp2015_09odp2015_10odp2015_11Here are more parade entries that are uniquely Cincinnati starting with some currently active athletes, the Cincinnati Roller Girls. Next is a float from current Cincinnati success story Pure Romance and a car from one time Cincinnati powerhouse Crosley Corporation. In about a month, a new carousel will be put into operation on Cincinnati’s riverfront and a few of the custom made figures filled a parade float. From a little to Cincinnati’s west comes the Rabbit Hash General Store and from the east comes the Cardboard Boat Museum. In the race for Most Flamboyant Cincinnatian, Bootsy Collins might edge out Jim Tarbell by a little bit but neither has been called a wallflower.

od2015_07od2015_06od2015_05I guess the closest I got to Great American Ball Park was Fountain Square and even the tail of the parade had passed by the time I got there. Cincinnati will be hosting this year’s All-Star Game and a count down sign was unveiled yesterday. I grabbed a shot of that and watched some of the game on the big screen before heading up to the City View for dinner and the rest of the game. Dinner was a ‘burger and the game was a rain delayed win for the Reds. The stadium can be partially seen from the bar. The wisp of smoke visible between the couple on the deck is from the win signalling fireworks.

bw201501bw201502The game was over but the birthday celebration had a couple more days to run. Ovenmaster Mary brought peanut butter brownies to Tuesday’s trivia gathering for some low-key great-taste celebrating. On Wednesday, I headed north to Dayton. Last year I finally experienced what many consider Cincinnati’s premier steakhouse, the Precinct. At that time, I stated that a steak I’d had at Dayton’s Pine Club remained a contender for “best ever”. I noted that more research was needed and tonight I went back for that research. The trip was infinitely worthwhile but it didn’t exactly lead to a decision. I’d ordered that Precinct steak with options while my Pine Club cut was unadorned. I had a mild sense of being slightly more impressed with the Precinct meal but realized that might be the crab meat and Béarnaise talking. Both filets were superb. In the end, I decided that debating the merits of steaks at this level or price point is like debating whether a lily looks better with silver or gold gilding. The two restaurants are different but no meat eater with functioning taste buds would be disappointed with either.

bw201504bw201503I made one more stop for birthday week. Pinups & Pints, “The World’s Only Strip Club – Brew Pub”, is just a few miles northeast of Dayton and I have, duh, wanted to go there ever since I first heard about it. The problem has been that I’m hardly ever in Dayton in the evening with free time and that’s when Pinups & Pints tends to be open. The brewery operation is an almost tiny fifteen gallon system and only a single rotating brew is available. At present, that’s Thigh High IPA which was, although IPAs are not my first choice, quite good for the style. Even though there’s no doubt that the brewery is something of a gimmick, it’s definitely not a joke. Owner/brewmaster Scott Conrad is serious about it and puts in the effort required to produce a quality product. I had intended to have just one beer but the dancers were attractive enough to make me order a second. Although two beers wasn’t enough to make the reasonably pretty dancers drop dead gorgeous, a few more might. Nearly naked women that make you want another beer that makes the women prettier which makes the beer taste better which makes the… I think Conrad might be onto something.