Sunday, January 10, 1999

You are grumpily invited to The Enquirer's...

[Cincinnati Whine Festival]
        It's a dreary January. The holidays are over, and those bills are coming due. It's a cold, slushy, icy mess outside. The streets are all torn up. The furnace won't start. Neither will the car. The sun won't shine. The dog smells like dirty socks, and so does your sofa. The Bengals just stink. And Cincinnati City Council is up for election again this year.

        Quit whining? Not on your life.

        This is the month when Cincinnatians traditionally harvest a bumper crop of sour grapes. Might as well enjoy it. Pour yourself a glass of whine, sit by the fire, and tell us your winter whines, gripes, groans and grouses. To get you started, we've included a whine list from the Editorial Page staff (below).

        Send yours to:" or write: Whine Festival, Enquirer Editorial Page, 312 Elm St., Cincinnati, Ohio 45202; or fax 513-768-8610. Include your name, address, neighborhood and daytime phone.

        We'll print the really vintage gripes in a coming issue. The author of the finest whine will receive a bottle of fine wine.

        And remember: We will print no whine before its time.

Jim Borgman
        I'm already sick of the whole Millennium thing, and we still have 1,001 years to go. Leave it to us in the media to overhype an honest-to-goodness epic event to the point of meaninglessness.

        The lists are the worst part. The 100 Best Dead Cat Jokes of the Millennium. The 100 Commercials That Changed Our Lives. The 1,000 Most Influential People of the Millennium (#1. Bill Gates. #2 Leonardo DiCaprio ...)

        You can already watch the trivialization of the first 950 years of the current millennium leading up to the Golden Age of Us. “In 1237 Mongol hordes sacked Europe killing millions. This Millennium Capsule brought to you by Ford Trucks. Well if I had money, I'll tell you what I'd do ...”

        Apart from the token Gutenberg or Shakespeare, watch for these millennial recaps to drool over lives and inventions within easy reach of our short memories. History will remain safely quarantined in school textbooks, don't worry.

        And don't tell me the millennium starts in 2001. I can't take a minute more of this talk than necessary. When the new year arrives I hope to be camping in the desert miles from the nearest millennium bug.

Tony Lang
        Don't get me wrong, I'm grateful for high-tech, some of my best friends are high-tech, but is it asking too much that these technological marvels shouldn't be obsolete the minute I buy them, and when one goes on the fritz, as it will, neither I nor a crack repairperson can fix it, and why fix it, if it's cheaper to throw away and buy new, not that I'm complaining, since I'd only get some answering machine, and they probably already know my home address, and keep databases on my personal buying habits and movie rentals, not to mention my cell-phone conversations, and yours are none of my business either, even if you are too loud to ignore in public places, or you Drive Under the Influence (DUI) of a phone stuck on your ear, I understand, you forget where you are, like people who don't remember how to walk when they get on an escalator, it's techno-amnesia, and why should people bother to think, when sensors and computer chips manage big chunks of our lives, if a v-chip can sub for a parent, why not, till it crashes or the kids learn to circumvent it, or if you don't have kids and can't have them the old-fashioned way, I'm for fertility pills, just not high-tech fertility roulette that helps women give birth to an 8-pack, at great public expense, at least it's not cloning, not yet, I'm not ready for clones of Jerry Springer, or high-tech toys crowding out low-tech classics like Slinkys, as high-tech weaponry crowds out personal bravery, the upside being nations want war without casualties, the downside being any deranged terrorist can whip up some weapon of mass destruction in his sink, even killing grows more complicated, dating in the AIDS era resembles an E-check inspection and common fishermen pack more electronics than astronauts. Whatever happened to Simpler is Better?

Peter Bronson
        Select vintages from the Bronson whine cellar:

        • The most corrupt president in history, Bill Clinton.

        • The two angry guys on WBOB, who sound like Joe Pesci and the Budweiser lizard and whine like a dentist's drill working on a very large nerve.

        • Mutant attack weasel James Carville, who looks like the Budweiser lizard and will smear anyone to defend the most corrupt president in history.

        • Ohio's vindictive Parole Board members, who refuse to release Debbie Hill, perhaps the only person in state history to serve nearly four years in prison on a concealed weapons charge because she shot and killed a deranged stalker in self-defense.

        • All the lawyers who are lying and stonewalling on my tax dollars to shield the most corrupt president in history.

        • The idiots who ranked the one-loss Arizona Wildcats behind the two-loss Florida State Criminals, I mean Seminoles.

        • The Clinton News Network (CNN), which never fails to Turner my stomach with stories that are Fonda the most corrupt president in history.

        • The sticky wrapping that is welded onto new CDs, and is harder to remove than the most corrupt president in history.

        • People who say I have a lunatic obsession about the most corrupt president in history.

        • Did I mention Bill Clinton? His wife? His cat? ... — Peter Bronson

Karen Samples
        My big beef involves bacon.

        If only I lived in California or Colorado or some other bean-sprout-eating, wheat-juice-drinking state. Folks might be a little flaky out there, but at least they let corn be corn and beans be beans.

        In Kentucky, we herbivores are getting skinnier and skinnier. Or we would be, anyway, if circumstances hadn't forced us to consider cheesecake a fourth food group.

        The problem is veggie corruption.

        Who among us hasn't experienced the disappointment? We enter one of Kentucky's innumerable country kitchens, peer into a lonely bowl of vegetables — invariably, green beans — and encounter once again the horror: glistening globs of bacon.

        Can't anyone cook vegetables without meat? Please oh please. Those little veggies are just yearning to be steamed and spritzed with a touch of lemon, butter and garlic — period. No meat necessary.

        OK, I'm done now.

Ray Cooklis
        Winter — or what passes for winter in these parts — provides a chance to whine about wascally weather wimps behind the wheel.

        You know who you are.

        Area residents do have a very good excuse: Cincinnati's geographic curse. We're just north enough to get real snow, but just south enough for it to seem a novelty. And the temperature tends to hover around the treacherous freeze/thaw/freeze point.

        But really ... Cars start slipping and sliding before the first flake — or even raindrop — hits the pavement. Drivers become so tense you can see them wringing out the steering wheel as they creep along, jamming the brakes at each sign of moisture.

        Meanwhile, the TV weathergeeks hyperventilate as they break into the regularly disheveled programming to warn us withvoicesonspeed about OHMIGOD! ONE TO TWO INCHES OVERNIGHT! THAT'S AN ALL-TIME RECORD BLIZZARD FOR A TUESDAY AFTER A FRIDAY CHRISTMAS DURING YEARS ENDING WITH “98” IN WHICH PETE ROSE WAS NOT A MEMBER OF THE HALL OF FAME!!

        They cancel school-bus service but keep schools open, creating more traffic and more chances for vehicular mayhem by nervous nevephobes on the side streets. At least that's better than Northern Kentucky, where they shut down entire counties for days. Hey, how about using some of that growth-boom revenue for SNOWPLOWS?

        And just try finding a loaf of bread or quart of milk after the panic hoarders hit Krogers.

        Apparently, many drivers expect to be able to operate exactly the way they do on clear, dry summer roads. But you can't. You have to stop, start, turn and react more deliberately. Make smaller moves. Anticipate further ahead. Brake gently and earlier.

        Easy to say, hard to do — unless it's ingrained in your driving habits. Maybe that's the solution. As part of driver's ed, make students practice maneuvers on slick surfaces, the way people who learn to drive in snowier climes do naturally.

        Either that, or issue Cincinnati drivers some of that newfangled doggie drug for carburetion anxiety.

Joe Jones
        I'm angry that everyone else is so dang angry. Everyone is in such a hurry. You get the feeling that the yuppies in their sport utility vehicles would sooner run over their grandmas than miss the next red light.

        I'm nostalgic for the '70s already and I barely remember them. The '80s were all about greed and the '90s are about being ruthless. Anyone with the right team of lawyers is free to do as they choose without any consequence. Rich people literally get away with murder these days. Material things are valued over people. Wealth is the only thing that matters.

        Whatever happened to friendly people? Older people routinely strike up conversations with me. They seem happy. Young people have constant scowls on their faces. Policemen, telephone operators, fast-food employees, etc. seem too aggravated to even attempt being friendly.

        How I long for the days when people walked around with two-foot-deep Afros, bell-bottom pants and platform shoes. Looking goofy and acting goofy was considered cool. Smiley-face and “Have a Nice Day” stickers were everywhere.

        We've become a nation of cynics. Political correctness has replaced civility. The American Dream is still possible but as soon as you make your fortune, there's a guy down the street waiting to sue you for everything you own so he can get his share of the pie.

        The world doesn't need any more cynics. Make a resolution this year to be friendlier to folks. It's OK to whine but we need to quit caring so much for ourselves and have some empathy for others.

Linda Cagnetti
        Whining is like sun tanning. A little now and then is good for you. But too much at once will make you miserable, like a sunburn, and big doses too often will wrinkle you before your time.

        Whining's a luxury, not a right, my mom used to say. A tolerant woman otherwise, she allowed whining only in moderation. When we persisted, she'd hold up her hand, like a referee blowing a whistle, and announce we'd entered “the no-whining zone” and if we wanted to continue, go someplace else (out of her earshot).

        From mom and years of practice, I've settled on a few rules for successful whining:

        • Have a whining buddy. Don't abuse her. Take turns. Ask permission: “Mind if I whine a little today?” “Okay. You have 3 minutes.”

        • Don't take your whining self too seriously. “Would you like some cheese with your whine?” one friend routinely asks when I get revved up.

        • Put yourself on a whine diet. Monday, for example, can be your whining day. Jam it full. Then declare the next six days no-whiners — like bingeing on ice cream only on Sundays with laying off desserts the rest of the week.

        Today, I've been granted a bingeing moment for a few personal favorites. Here goes:

        Political spin doctors who revel in putting a good face on a bunch of bunk.

        People who try to keep public information from the public or to fool or confuse them with spin (see above).

        Health and education sexperts who think they invented sex and should teach our kids everything they please, because the rest of us are dark-age dweebs.

        Arrogance (see above).

        Perennial grumps.


        People who defend Larry Flynt and his porn as “harmless.”

        Drivers always in a hurry — probably to go nowhere any more exciting than I'm going.

        Gray winters.

        Humorless people.

        Ah. That felt good.


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