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Peaceful Warrior
Nick Nolte, Scott Mechlowicz, Amy Smart

Transcendent Zen or Pop Culture Aphorisms?

Peaceful Warrior is the name of a film that plays more like a made for TV movie with all of the bells and whistles of pop culture self help forums now available on any late night infomercial program or perhaps on the motivational speaker circuit.

Peaceful Warrior is a movie made from the book of the same name written by Dan Millmen, a motivational speaker whose story tells his life’s journey to truth and fulfillment. In fact, a declaration at the opening of the movie states,  Inspired by true events. So if a movie is inspired by true events and not necessarily based on true events, does this absolve the storyteller to explain the physical impossibility of Nick Nolte’s character a.k.a. dubbed Socrates, to be able to leap a 12 ft. building in the flash of an eye?

Come on everyone knows the current metaphors for the search for the meaning of life…..The one who is hardest to love—needs love the most.  You will never be better than you are now as well as you will never be less than you are now….The journey is what brings us happiness not the destination….. But did we have to be subjected to 120 minutes of pabulum?

Scott Mechlowicz plays the lead, gymnast, Dan Millman, in his youth. He certainly is credible as a first rate gymnast. He has the puppy dog eyes of a sad sack hit by life’s inevitable suffering and triumph only after discovering that one must always live in the moment. For the record, the moments he was on the big screen he brought great eye-candy appeal.

Nick Nolte as the gas station guru who dispenses prophetic ad nauseam decrying self adulation must be commended for his restrained performance.  Nolte’s performance is what made it bearable to sit through his character’s job of dispensing  a  pop culture bromide of current thinking that could pass for Zen, Buddhism or a number of any other self help or religious agendas. In short, Nolte enlightens us by preaching platitudes that all sound universal.

I’m not knocking the validity of these ideas. I am just suggesting there have been better film vehicles such as Seven Years in Tibet or Gandhi  to espouse the benefits of discipline and the search for enlightenment.

If the lesson learned from this movie is simply the adage…   "In life, concentrate on the journey; not on the goal.”  May I recommend you skip this movie and rent Little Miss Sunshine?  There’s a journey worth your time instead of this superfluous drib called, Peaceful Warrior.

 

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Five Things May 9: Finding the Right School

With the school year coming to a close, many parents will have to make a difficult decision this summer. For the first time they will have to decide where to send their child to school next year.
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051407SOCIAL.jpg For evening entertaining, lighting has to be considered. Tiki torches and Christmas lights are a very simple, fun way to decorate a laid-back gathering such as a barbecue or block party. For a more formal gathering, you will want more elegant lighting options. The obvious solution is to use candles, but candles can present a risk if there is a large group. If you use candles, make sure to use some type of globe over them so nothing catches fire as a breeze blows by. Lanterns are a good alternative because they contain the flame (unless you use battery-operated lanterns) and they can be set on the table or hung from posts around the yard to be both functional and decorative.

A more intimate and playful setting can be created by using an outdoor fireplace or fire pit. These are especially nice on cool nights or after a dinner party because not only do they provide light, they can be used to roast marshmallows. This might be a better late summer or fall activity, but can still be enjoyable in the summer as long as it is not too hot.

Outdoor furniture and shelter are major considerations in hosting outdoor events. If you have the space and the money, a gazebo is a creative solution because it's beautiful and it provides both shade and seating. For a cheaper option, you can get a canopy (i.e., from Home Depot, $199) or a large umbrella. Canopies are really convenient if you plan on having food outside because you can set up tables and let the netting hang down to keep out pesky flies and bees.

A truly fun piece for entertaining is this "barzebo," which is essentially a canopy that comes with a small bar and two bar stools (i.e., Home Depot, $399). Such a piece could be used for a more formal event, or made more casual by adding the tiki torches and Christmas lights. Either way, it makes entertaining as easy as it looks. Having a small bar outside is a simple matter of moving it to the right spot and stocking it with cold drinks, but it looks very impressive and shows your guests that you put a lot of thought into the event.
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Once you have figured out lighting and furniture, it's time for the finishing touches that can take your party from good to fabulous! If you have patio furniture, make sure you have some throw pillows to add some of your personality and make your guests more comfortable. If not, think of how you want tables and chairs arranged (lawn chairs that you borrowed from neighbors will do just fine). If you're having a family-style meal, you'll want one large table or several small tables put together to form a large table. However, using small tables placed spread out from each other can encourage more conversation and help the guests get to know each other better. If you want music to enhance the atmosphere, it is better to purchase outdoor speakers and place them around the yard. They connect right to your stereo in the house and allow the music to permeate the whole yard better than bringing the stereo outside would.

Everyone loves being outside in the summer, so think about some of these decorating ideas, get creative, and have fun entertaining!

 

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"Next"
Nicholas Cage, Julianne Moore, Jessica Biel, Peter Falk, Jose Zuniga

Entering the movie theatre to review Nicholas Cage’s most recent film, "Next" a moment of indifference overcame me. Recovering from the last movie I reviewed of his (The Wicker Man), I had very little expectation of being entertained. What came "Next" was a fast paced, sagacious, action packed film that kept me enthralled from start to finish.

"Next" is the story of a small time magician who makes his legitimate living as an entertainer at a Las Vegas venue. His real money comes from weekly visits to the casinos where he wins and bets against the house. Nicholas Cage plays Chris Johnson who was born with the unique ability to see in to his future.

Based on a short story Cage took the reins and produced and starred in this film. The premise of foreseeing his future, albeit if only for a two minute window creates a story that is ingenious at every turn. From meeting his love interest, to dodging the FBI with an uncanny awareness of knowing their next move even before they do; this movie offers an array of artfully shrewd twists and surprises.

Colossal visual stunts, illustrious special effects and a believable cast of supporting characters makes for one dynamic film. Substantial women characters holding their own is a welcome change. Julianne Moore plays hardnosed FBI agent Callie Ferris. Jessica Biel plays Liz who is Cage’s love interest. A small role perfected by Peter Falk as Chris Johnson’s best friend adds a wholesomeness to a person facing the dangers and challenges of seeing into the future.

Perhaps what is so appealing is imagining the concept of seeing one’s future; then watching Nicholas Cage play it with such vulnerability. Having a porthole into the future doesn’t always guarantee happiness. Having the opportunity to see "Next" will at the very least, guarantee an entertaining movie experience.

Rating: Four Chic Stars

Jan’s Movie Rating System:
5 – Top notch entertainment
4 – Compelling, Heartwarming, Thrilling, Comical
3 – The a) story b) actors c) special effects saved/made this movie.
2 – If you are bored watch it, or wait for DVD
1 – Don’t bother. Too morose, too violent, too blasé, an enigma.

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"Why is it most good looking, remotely successful guys in the this town think they are in L.A. and act like a ass on a consistant basis? Is the pool of a well-rounded guys so void in Cincy that the few there are milk it for all it's worth?"
-Sarah, Westwood

I can't count how many times I've heard this one, or something similar: "There just aren't any good guys out there," "All of the good ones are taken," or "please stop calling me, you psycho." OK, maybe not the last one. Not recently, anyway.

Did it ever occur to people that, if you're constantly meeting the wrong people, you just might be looking in all the wrong places? "You know, it's the funniest thing. Every weekend, when I wear the tightest, most revealing outfit in my wardrobe, and head out to the clubs looking for the man of my dreams, only oversexed man-children seem to hit on me. I can't figure it out!" Hmmm.. Need I explain that one?

Unfortunately, we men are but simple creatures. Although we may be highly intelligent and fairly evolved beings, there's just something about women in a bar/club-type atmosphere that drops us back a few links down the evolutionary chain – somewhere just below marmets, and a notch or two above pond scum. I can't explain it. It's like there's some invisible bouncer sitting at the door of every club, that require most men to check their tact and dignity at the door before entering.

I know it sounds cliché, but it seems that I've met the best people when I was least expecting it. I might have even met a few of them at clubs or bars – but it certainly wasn't when I was trying to. Maybe that's the problem. Most people are just trying too hard.

And as good-looking as that guy might be who just pulled up to the club in a Ferrari, keep this in mind: a good-looking guy in a Ferrari probably isn't pulling up to a club in Cincinnati to meet someone for a stimulating intellectual conversation. Ever been in a Ferrari? They are way too small for brains that big. Personally, I believe that Ferraris (or any small exotic sports car, for that matter) were designed to attract incredibly beautiful women, and get them back to your place as fast as humanly possible. I hear that hats or t-shirts that say "ask me about my billions" are sometimes also equally attractive, provided the person actually does have billions, and doesn't live at home with mommy and daddy any more. Unless, of course, "home" is a palace in Europe, and "mommy" and "daddy" happen to be members of some royal family. But I digress…

Not happy with the caliber of men you're attracting? Try doing some thing different. Get involved in different social settings. Find a hobby. Join a group or a club. And make it something you might like to do, or have always wanted to learn more about. That way, even if you don't meet someone right away, you still get something out of the experience – something more beneficial than a hangover, assorted napkins full of numbers you would never, ever call and a wardrobe full of smoky clothes (if you're hitting the clubs outside of Ohio, anyway.)

In short, to attract the kind of man you think you deserve, be the type of woman you think he'd like you to be. Which, in most cases, is yourself.

 

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Cincy Chic: How did the opportunity to be on Survivor came about?
Michelle Yi:
I’m always on the hunt for new experiences and adventures. So, it all started when me and my sister applied to be on CBS’s Amazing Race. Interview, after interview, before I knew it, I found myself on Survivor instead! It was certainly a much more challenging experience than I had first anticipated, but well worth it!

Cincy Chic: You were a fashion design at the University of Cincinnati before the Survivor gig came about. Did you have to put that on hold to go out to Fiji?
Yi:
In order to make it out to Fiji, I had to take a travel quarter from school. It was a fair bit of paperwork and catching up, but UC’s co-op department has been wonderful in assisting me, to assure I still get to graduate in June!

Cincy Chic: Did you do anything special in your try-out video to catch their eye?
Yi:
Honestly, in my video, I didn’t do anything particularly exciting. Just sat down in front of my little digital camera on the video setting, and spent two minutes talking about myself. That’s the best recommendation I can give. Just be yourself, be excited and tell them why you’ve got what it takes!

Cincy Chic: Before the Survivor gig, what was the most difficult thing you had done?
Yi:
Oh gosh… I’d say it’s probably something to do with climbing. I ironically have a fear of falling, so I’m really pushing myself every time I go to Red River Gorge. And there was one time, when I worked in jewelry, that we were held up at gunpoint. But in those situations, I think your choices are obvious.

Cincy Chic: What was the most difficult thing you faced in your time with Survivor?
Yi:
Without a doubt, it was the first seven days without water. You’d have a hard time convincing me I wasn’t dead already. No, I’m being dramatic. But really. I was amazed at what my body could go through!

Cincy Chic: Did you get along with teammates off-screen?
Yi:
Absolutely. Many of them I just adore, and who’d have thought we’d never meet without this crazy experience!

Cincy Chic: Tell us some juice that we won't get from watching the show?
Yi:
Actually, I think that most shocking part for me was how real it is! You really don’t brush your teeth, and your gums hurt, and you’re just filthy. It’s a wonder how everyone else still manages to look so glamorous on TV!
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Cincy Chic: Your athleticism earned you the nicknames "Ninja" and "Monkey" …where'd you get those skills, girlfriend?
Yi:
It’s all from rock climbing! I’m still a little kid, running everywhere, climbing all over whatever I can get my paws on. I love being active. I lift weights, do yoga, bike around… Whatever I can. It’s certainly not my attachment for Skyline and Graeter’s that earned me that handle.

Cincy Chic: What would you have done with all the money, had you won?
Yi:
After a vacation for the family? I’d love to start my own clothing line. Something in activewear. Well, I think people can be on the lookout for that anyway.

Cincy Chic: Aside from any money, what was the best part about the experience?
Yi:
The money pales in comparison to just the game itself! Thirty-nine days in Fiji, meeting some incredible personalities. And I’ve got a very competitive spirit, so I’m all about the challenges.

Cincy Chic: What was the worst?
Yi:
The dehydration was without a doubt the worst. It wipes you out in everyway: mental clarity, physical prowess and your nerves become so hyper-sensitive.

Cincy Chic: Any lessons you learned on Survivor that you'll take throughout your life?
Yi:
Just keep your head up. Always. Things in the game – and in life – can turn at the drop of a hat. Know what you’re working with, and make it happen.

Cincy Chic: Now that you've been thrust into the public eye, is it difficult to come back to life in Cincinnati?
Yi:
Cincinnati is such a wonderful city, and was very welcoming to come back to. The people here have been so supportive, and it makes all the difference. I love to know that people are proud of me, so there’s nothing difficult about that!
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Cincy Chic: Where's your favorite hang out spot in Cincy?
Yi:
I spend a good portion of my nights training at Climb Time in Blue Ash. One can always find me there. Otherwise, I feel like every other day I’m eating at either Arthur’s or Lemongrass in Hyde Park. I’m always about the food. Especially these days!

Cincy Chic: What are you going to do now? Any goals/adventures planned that you hope to survive in the near future?
Yi:
I graduate in June. I’d love to take some time climbing around the States. And then after that, it’s the big brave world of Fashion.

Cincy Chic: What would you like to say to those Cincinnati women out there afraid to put a little adventure into their life?
Yi:
Follow your passions, and fear nothing. Ambition has no risk. So just go for it, but don’t lose your head on the way. Friends and family can help you through amazing feats. Take advantage of it!

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“We reveal stories about freedom’s heroes, from the era of the Underground Railroad to contemporary times, challenging and inspiring everyone to take courageous steps for freedom today.”
– National Underground Railroad Freedom Center (NURFC) Mission Statement

Since the Freedom Center opened its doors to the public on August 23, 2004, it's been reaching out to the Tri-State through a variety of ongoing events and programs. "For example," says Eileen Turner, NURFC communications specialist, "our speaker series features prominent artists and authors who discuss a variety of topics from slavery to contemporary issues."

In addition, NURFC's Freedom Community Arts Productions, which is a 26-night series that presents high quality arts experiences for the Greater Cincinnati community that complement the mission and vision of the Freedom Center. Upcoming performances include the School for Creative and Performing Arts and the Cincinnati Men’s Chorus. The NURFC also hosts many forums, community conversations and Freedom Circles for the public to dialogue and discuss issues impacting Greater Cincinnatians.

The Freedom Center’s young professionals’ group, FreedomYP, hosts a bi-monthly "Freedom of…" Event Series. "The Event Series is our way of opening the doors of the Freedom Center for evening programming which includes special guests, music, food and a cash bar," says Turner.

On designated Freedom Family Saturdays, families can enjoy unique programming, family-oriented, hands-on arts and crafts, interactive activities and music.

NURFC's guided thematic tour, Women of Courage, (available Wednesday through Friday at 1 p.m.) highlights the courage, cooperation and perseverance of more than 20 women who each overcame personal struggles to achieve freedom. Some of the women featured on the tour are Ellen Craft, Harriet Tubman, Mary Ann Shadd Cary and Susan B. Anthony.

These efforts are working, too. As of January, 2007, more than 500,000 guests have visited the Freedom Center, including more than 120,000 school children. Visitors have come from all 50 states and more than 40 countries around the world, according to Turner.

If you haven't been, you must. If you've been before, but not in a while, you should revisit, according to Turner. "Guests should return to the Freedom Center because we now have a changing exhibition gallery, comprised of approximately 3,000 square feet, on the third floor," she adds. "The gallery enables us to display larger-scale exhibits throughout the year."

She encourages all people, of all ages, races and cultures to visit the Freedom Center because "through the exhibits and various programs, we offer lessons and reflections on the struggle for freedom not only in the past, but in the present. The fight for freedom continues today, in the U.S. and all over the world. The Freedom Center helps guests discover the power of one voice."

Go to www.freedomcenter.org to learn more about programs and events at the Freedom Center.

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I had a couple of emails wondering if there are any sports in Cincy that they can get involved in. I’m not sure of any specifics of what they are looking for, but I have the perfect sport for all! Kickball! Yes, I said Kickball! If you're looking to have a good time, consider kickball. It's not just for elementary kids. It's a great opportunity to meet new people, do something unique and get competitive if you so choose. Did I mention that it’s Co-Ed? How much fun can you handle on a weeknight?

I have played (or at least tried to play) several sports in my time. I still play soccer in a women’s league. It is fun and I have been playing for 30 some years. It just isn’t kickball!

Kickball is a blast! The teams are great to play against, and my teammates are the best! The league is played on a baseball/softball diamond. The first two seasons, the ball was much larger than the “old school” ball and was hard for even the guys to kick it out of the infield! Then they went to a ball very much like the ones we used in grade school, for one game. Now it’s a smaller yellow ball that’s a little heavier.

The average age is probably around mid 30s. We have a 19-year-old and some in the mid-upper 40s. Let me tell you this: my (older) sister, who has never played on any organized sport team/league in her life, played the first season and loved it. It was awesome to see her get out there and have fun doing something that she (like most of us old schoolers, I’m sure)hasn’t done in over 30 some years.

So, I recommend this sport to girls, guys, married, single, young, older, athletic and not-so-athletic. This (adult) league is new to the area but so was soccer at one time!

F.Y.I.
The games are played in Milford at Expressway Park on Tuesday nights most games are between 7pm and 9:30pm start times. The seasons are two months in spring, two in fall. This is one of the best sports that I have played as an adult!


If you are interested in playing, go to www.expresswaypark.com
You can also email me at ggunckle@cincychic.com and I’ll get more information to you.