Review: GymBoss Interval Timer and Water Aerobics

Since my walking posts are going to be on hold for a while, I thought I would share some information on our water aerobics routine. I first took a class in water aerobics when I was doing my doctoral class work back at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. A fellow grad student taught the class at the campus pool and a bunch of us took it with her. It was great for my bad knees since it was no impact. And it had the benefit of burning more calories than doing the same motions on land. When I went to work at University of Tennessee Martin, I discovered that the wife on one of my colleagues taught at the UTM pool so I joined that class.

When I moved to the Cincinnati area, I was happy to learn that our Cincinnati State Physical Education / Health & Fitness Training department was adding water aerobics classes. The only bad thing was that the classes were always in the late afternoon which made for a long day and the chlorine levels at the pools were often too high (not good for someone with eczema).

In 2007, both Tom and I joined our local YMCA and started working out in the pool there. We were on a liquid diet at the time through a local hospital and they had office space in the lower level of the Y. We got into such a habit of going to the Y to work out that when we were house hunting in 2008, proximity to the Y was a major factor in our choice.

Unfortunately, the water aerobics schedule at the Y weren’t convenient for us. Neither of us wanted to swim laps (I can’t swim in a straight line) so we started making up our own water aerobics routine based on what we had learned from past classes.

At first, we counted repetitions for each exercise. But, when we were getting up to multiple hundreds of reps, it was too ease to get distracted and lose count. Plus, we couldn’t talk to each other or to anyone else at the pool which is a challenge since our Y pool family likes to talk. We obviously needed a solution.

GymBoss

It took some searching but we found one. The Gymboss is a small repeating interval timer. You choose how long you want the interval time to be and the GymBoss beats for each interval. You can also have different interval times. The GymBoss also keeps track of how many intervals you’ve done and counts down to the end of each interval. You can set the number of repeats too and change the alarm type plus the beep duration.

For us, the interval is set at five minutes and 99 repeats (though our average is 10 to 12). Because we’re using it pool side, we’ve always kept it in a snack size zip drop bag. Recently, we added some rice to both help it stay upright and to help keep moisture out of the timer.

We liked the GymBoss so much that we bought a second one to keep in our suitcase. The original one we bought back in 2008 is starting to show its wear so we recently replaced it with one of their new models that come in colors now.

All in all, using the GymBoss made our water aerobics routine much more enjoyable. I’m going to share the routine we created in a future blog post.

— Carla

Falcon Theater’s Riser Raiser – Go! Donate! Now!

Shameless plug for the wonderful theater that allows me to serve on their board. I reviewed one of their shows way back before I was on the board. If that’s enough for you, just click on the link below to donate (even as little as $10 helps). If you want more information before clicking, read below the link. Go quickly though… this campaign is close to ending.

http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-riser-raiser


This campaign is raising funds on behalf of Falcon Productions Inc, a verified nonprofit. The campaign does not necessarily reflect the views of the nonprofit or have any formal association with it. All contributions are considered unrestricted gifts and can’t be specified for any particular purpose.

Short Summary

Falcon Theater performs some great theater. From “Debbie Does Dallas: The Musical” to “Evil Dead: The Musical” to “Poseidon: The Upside-Down Musical” to “Hamlet” (we pride ourselves on diversity): you’ve laughed with us. You’ve cried with us. You’ve also shifted awkwardly in your seat, not because the serial killer in “Frozen” made you uncomfortable, but because…

Your butt hurts. Your back aches. You hope for intermission to stretch.

So help us make you more comfortable.

What We Need & What You Get

We need to redo our risers, some HVAC (heating and cooling: important) as well as some new, comfortable chairs. We’ve already raised $1200 in donations in the theater, as well as $6500 from both Summerfair and a William Purdy Foundation grant. We’ve written other grants, too, and are waiting to hear if we’ve gotten them.

That said, we need to make sure we can do this project this summer so that when this fall’s TBD opener opens, everyone can settle into comfortable chairs and enjoy the show.

What we need:

New Risers, with integrated lighting for safety and accessibility
New chairs, that are comfortable and more appropriate for a theater
Rerouting of our HVAC, to create more headroom in the audience

What you get:

A comfortable chair to sit in when you see our shows
A tax deduction (we are a 501 (c)3 organization, but of course consult your tax advisor)
Possibly a thank-you gift from Falcon
Lots of good karma

Other Ways You Can Help

We know. We’re artists. We get it it. You can’t always help financially. How can you help us?

Share this with your friends on Facebook, Twitter, smoke signals.
Volunteer! That’s free, and you get to see a show too.

Review: Smashburger paired with Moerlein Beers

Last Thursday night, Tom and I were invited to a media event at the Highland Heights Smashburger to try out their new food pairings with Christian Moerlein beers. Neither of us had been to a Smashburger so we didn’t really know what to expect. We decided to split the blogging responsibilities on this one. Tom will cover the beer and beer pairings over on Hoperatives (review on Hoperatives) and I’m going to cover the food offerings here.

We started with a sampling of the many sides available at Smashburger.

Fries

These included Smash fries (tossed with rosemary, olive oil and garlic – so nice) and sweet potato fries. (Regular fries are also available.)

Pickles and Peppers

Then, there was fried pickle chips and the very unusual fried banana pepper rings. Personally, I was so happy to see fried pickle chips instead of spears. Chips are so much better. These things were damn addictive.

Onion Rings and Veggies

Finally, there were Haystack onions (really thin onion rings) and what they call Veggie Frites (green beans and carrots that are flash fried). Really good! And these last four sides all came with their own dipping sauce.

After we were all settled down and had enjoyed the sides, Smashburger owner (and former Cincinnati resident) Tom Ryan and Moerlein VP & Lager House Brewmaster Richard Dube walked us through the pairings. Each burger or chicken sandwich is pictured below with the Moerlein beer it was paired with (except the Classic Smash Burger photo where I forget to position the beer in the right place. It was paired with Helles by the way).

Classic Burger

The Classic Smash Burger is your basic burger with lettuce, tomato, pickles, red onion and mayo. I liked the fact that it was on a multi-grain bun to make it a bit different. Basic, but very well done.

Mushroom and Swiss

This was my favorite. The Mushroom Swiss burger has sautéed baby portabella mushrooms, mayo and aged Swiss on an egg bun with no produce on it. That was a good decision for this particular burger. Lettuce, tomato or even onion would have been too much. And the cremini mushrooms were such a good choice for this.

BBQ Bacon Cheeseburger

The BBQ, Bacon and Cheddar Burger (with BBQ sauce, applewood-smoked bacon, cheddar and haystack onions) was my second favorite. So decadent that this will probably be my “special occasions only” choice at Smash Burger.

Buckeye Burger

This burger is one that is only available in our area. Take those fried pepper rings I talked about earlier add American cheese, haystack onions, lettuce, tomato and mayo. Put it all on an egg bun and you have a very unique burger for the Buckeye state.

Black Bean Burger

The Spicy Veggie Black Bean Burger (with fresh jalapenos, guacamole, pepper jack, lettuce, tomato, onion and chipotle mayo on a spicy chipotle bun) lived up to its name. The texture of the burger though reminded me more of falafel than black bean burgers I’ve tried in the past. This veggie option is also available in a non-spicy version. (Believe me, the spicy version is definitely spicy.)

Chicken

The chicken sandwiches at Smashburger are different than your usual “throw a chicken breast on a bun” sandwiches. Take that chicken breast and pound it like you’re making chicken schnitzel or chicken parmesan. Then marinate it in all sorts of wonderful flavors. The result is a chicken sandwich that cooks in the same amount of time as a burger, but stays moist and flavorful. I’ll be ordering more of these.

Chicken Club

For this chicken sandwich, take the chicken we just talked about and then add fresh avocado, applewood-smoked bacon, lettuce, tomato, ranch dressing and mayo. Place it all on a multi-grain bun. I only wish that the avocado had been sliced a bit thinner. I would probably forego the ranch and mayo next time too. The avocado is enough.

We finished the night with samples of their Häagen-Dazs milk shakes. I’m not a fan of fake fruit flavors ever since I had a bad experience with Froot Loops as a child. This strawberry shake was not fake at all and the strawberry flavor was not overpowering. As Goldilocks would have said, it was just right.

By the way, while researching this post, I discovered that the Smashburger web site has both their nutritional information for their entire menu and also the allergen information too.

All in all, I’m really looking forward to our next visit to Smashburger so we can enjoy their burgers and Christian Moerlein beers together. Now, if they would just open one in Burlington or Hebron…

Re-Launching RadioCarla.com

When Posterous announced it was shutting down on April 30, 2013 (thanks a lot, Twitter!), it gave me reason to think about what I wanted to do with my personal blog RadioCarla.com. It had started on Blogger and was more sports related (How about that win for the Cubs last night?) over there. When I moved it to Posterous, it became more generalized, but vague. I also shared lots of comic strips (I love comic strips).

The one thing I knew was that I wanted to switch to WordPress. Tom and I discussed it and then he installed it (and also moved his personal blog CrankyBear.Net to WP – Its re-launch is coming later). We also both decided to use the Responsive theme since we were using for the Rivertown Brewing web site and plan to move Hoperatives to it too.

We had gotten a back up of our Posterous sites, but soon discovered that there was some major clean up work to do after importing the back up. All images were there, but were not in the proper format so each had to be fixed one by one to show up correctly. There was also some extra HTML tags that needed to be removed. Personally, I decided to remove any post that was just a comic with no real commentary. That cut my posts from 162 to 61. (I told you I love comic strips.)

Design elements were next. Since the idea behind the Responsive theme is that your blog works on any browser (desktop, tablet or phone), I knew I wanted to keep the design very clean. The radio clip art came from http://openclipart.org/ (part of Creative Commons) and the background image is from a free Twitter background web site whose name I forget. I originally used it with my CinStateCarla Twitter account and decided it was too good not to be used more. And thank God for Google Fonts. They make such a big difference.

But what to blog about? As I was creating categories for my past posts, a theme of sorts began to evolve. I’ve been writing about the things I love: blogging, Cincinnati/NKY, comics, Disney (especially Disney Parks), craft beer, sports, teaching, technology, theater and travel. And so I’m going to continue that, but bump it up a notch. I’m also going to throw in some recipes and reviews and maybe something else. That’s the joy of a re-launch. You don’t know exactly where you’re going, but you kind of have an idea of the direction. As I was tweaking everything yesterday, I jokingly told Tom and some of my friends that I was going to add the tag line “Fat, Fifty and FUN!” I ended up not using it, but I still think it sums up my direction. So onward! And enjoy!

–Carla

Review: Lines from TouringPlans.com

A while back, I wrote about the Disney Parks / Verizon Mobile Magic app which was released in November of 2009. This application gives you wait times and FastPass information for Disney Parks attractions plus all the show times, times for character meet & greets, games to play while waiting in queues and more. But you had to have a non-smart phone (aka not a Blackberry, iPhone or Droid) and you had to be on Verizon. In addition, a 180 day license costs $9.99.

Well, the folks at the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World and TouringPlans.com have come up with their own version on this idea called simply “Lines.” Free during the beta testing period, Lines will be included with a Premium Access subscription to Touring Plans. Unlike the Mobile Magic, Lines is actually a mobile web site which means it works with smart phones. So far, Lines works on the iPhone, Blackberry, Android and Palm Pre. I tested Lines on a Motorola Droid, HTC Eris, Blackberry Curve and an iPod Touch using WiFi access. I also checked it out on Safari (it doesn’t work on other non-mobile web browsers). All but one of the screenshots below came from a Droid and are from December 5, 2009.

 

          

As you can see above, the log in screen reminds you that Lines is still in beta and also gives you links to sign up if you need to plus help if you have trouble logging in. Once you’re logged in, you see the four parks with their hours and EMH (if applicable) listed. At the bottom, there’s the Touring Plans crowd estimate along with best park to visit and park to avoid recommendations. Like the wait times, this information is based on the Unofficial Guide’s and TouringPlans.com’s years of data collection related to Disney park crowds. The design isn’t as graphics intensive as Mobile Magic, but that means it loads quickly and has a nice, clean design.

After selecting a park (in this case, the Magic Kingdom), you get a list of all of the attractions in that park. On this page, the wait times are listed along with the FastPass return time if that attraction has FP. You also choose to view the attractions in different arrangements (see below). Your navigation buttons are at the top: Parks returns you (naturally) to the listing of the four major theme parks and + Time lets you add a wait time to one of the attractions. If you submit a time via this link, you then get a drop down menu to select the attraction you want to update.

Notice the warning that wait time estimates may be off during the beta process, but they will only get more accurate as more people use Lines and update wait times (see below). Also notice that text is black while wait times are blue and alerts are red. A simple design choice, but it makes the information more easy to comprehend at a glance.

A simple feature that I appreciated is the date and time stamp at the top of the screen. It made me feel more secure in the accuracy of the information being provided. Of course, having done some date/time stamp coding myself, I fully realize that the date and time are not necessarily related to the database calls for the wait times, but it still made me feel better.

 

          

When you select a particular attraction, you (naturally) get more detailed information about that attraction. The comparison between the posted wait time and the actual wait time is good information to have. Whether there is a single rider line is also indicated here. Below the estimates are the forecasts of the standby waits at different times throughout the day, the peak standby time and when the FastPasses will be gone by. As the program states, “the standby forecasts are actual waits,” but “all estimates/forecasts are unofficial.”

          

Part of the strength of the Lines program is that users can improve the data by inputting actual wait times while they are at the parks. The screen above on the left gives users some notes and tips about submitting wait times. The screen on the right is the actual screen for submitting wait times and/or FastPass information. I think the on-screen hints on what should be submitted when has got to be a big help getting more accurate data submitted.

                    

So let’s say you want to view the attractions in a different way rather than alphabetically for the whole park. Scroll down and you can change the viewing mode from Alpha to Time (longest to shortest wait) or to Land. In the example above, we chose the Land viewing option and then selected Frontierland.

There were a couple of issues with Lines that I ran into while testing it. First of all, I could never get it to render correctly on my Verizon Blackberry Curve 8330. Instead of looking sleek and stylish like it did on the Lines Blackberry page, it was clunky text like you see on the right. I doublechecked that I had the latest OS from my Blackberry, but never got anything but this.

Second, I didn’t like that show times are handled by linking users to Steve Soares’ Walt Disney World Live Entertainment web site. His site is great, but it’s not really optimized for mobile browsers. This was especially true on the iPod Touch where the navigation buttons at the top were cut off. This made them hard to read at times. Also, the link is for the main page of Steve’s site no matter which park you are “in” when you hit the link. If I click the link for Fantasmic, I would at least like to be taken to the section of WDW Live Entertainment for Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Finally, when I’m viewing the attractions in the Time viewing mode, I would like the option of listing them from shortest to longest wait time as well as the default longest to shortest option. Maybe a simple button that lets you toggle back and forth between these two options?

[UPDATE: Since I posted this review, several of these issues have been resolved.  Turns out that on most Blackberry smart phone (including my Curve), the default for the web browser that comes with the phone is for it to not support style sheets.  To fix this, open the browser.  Then, bring up the options screen, go to Options > Browser Configuration , then select Support Style Sheets. Finally, Save Options. 

On the other two issues, Henry from Touring Plans already changed the links so you go to the correct part of WDW Live Entertainment for the park you are interested in and the toggle between longest to shortest and shortest to longest is coming!]

 

All in all, Lines is a really nice program and the price is definitely better than the Disney Parks / Verizon Mobile Magic app. I’m hoping the problems I experienced on my Blackberry Curve will be fixed before our January 31st trip or else my husband is going to be the chief Lines checker on his Droid! Lines is a solid program for both the first time Walt Disney World visitor and the veteran annual passholder on their monthly trip. Enjoy!

Review: Disney Parks / Verizon Mobile Magic App

[NOTE: This app was discontinued in December of 2013 with the roll out of the My Disney Experience app.]

If you’ve ever been to Walt Disney World, you know what one of the more important places to check when arriving at a Disney park is the tip board to see the wait times for your favorite attractions:

Now, imagine being able to have that information plus all the show times, times for character meet & greets, games to play while waiting in queues and more in the palm of your hand.

The new Disney Parks / Verizon Mobile Magic app promises all of that plus the convenience of having it on your cell phone. According to the press release sent out on November 11th, the Mobile Magic application “transforms Verizon Wireless phones into electronic tour guides to navigate Disney Parks.” With the use of Verizon’s Location Based Services (LBS), the Mobile Magic app recognizes which park you are in and directs you to attractions, dining locations and shops that are near your location.

The Mobile Magic app is not the first time Disney Parks and Verizon have teamed up on a project. The very popular Disney’s Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure makes use of “Kimmunicators” to send Epcot guests on an “ultra interactive quest” in one of the seven countries at the World Showcase.

          

After signing up at a Kim Possible kiosk (above on the left), you get a Fast Pass that tells you what time to report to the Kim Possible kiosk in the country you are assigned. You are given a Kimmunicator (really a Verizon cell phone that been modified – above right) and sent off on your adventure.

Both the Kim Possible Adventure app and the Mobile Magic app are BREW apps. BREW stands for Binary Runtime Environment for Wireless and is a development platform created by Qualcomm (Wikipedia). Most phones that run BREW apps are not smart phones. This is part of the reason why this first version of Mobile Magic will only run on certain non-smart phones.1 According to the Disney Parks Blog post that announced the release of this app, the “list of Verizon Wireless phones that Mobile Magic will be available on is expected to grow to include ‘touch’ handsets and smartphones in the upcoming weeks.”

In early November, Tom and I attended a Gadget Happy Hour that Verizon hosted in Cincinnati to showcase some of their new offerings like the Droid, the Android Eris and the Blackberry Storm 2. I had been following the announcements about Mobile Magic closely since we are Verizon customers and had a Walt Disney World trip planned for November 8-14. I asked about the MM app and Laura from Verizon said she would look into it. On November 11th (the day it was officially released), I was notified that I would be getting a phone with the app installed to try out in the parks. Since I currently have a Blackberry Curve and Tom just got a Motorola Droid, they had to send me a compatitible phone to try out the Mobile Magic app.

The phone didn’t arrived until after lunch our last full day at WDW so I didn’t get much time to play with the app in the parks. My first challenge was dealing with an unfamiliar non-smart phone. I’ve been using a Blackberry or my iPod Touch for so long, it took a while to make friends with the LG Glance and get the settings how I wanted them. I also needed to turn on the Location Based Services for Mobile Magic to really work in the parks. You can try out the app for free for one day or purchase a 180 day license for $9.99.

After the app is installed, it takes several clicks to start Mobile Magic: MENU > Media Center > Browse & Download > DisneyParks Mobile Magic. And that doesn’t include the three clicks it takes to unlock the phone if it is locked. I was expecting a separate area for applications, but never found one. After launching the app, you see the splash screen and then the location screen. You also have the option of setting the location manually when you are in the parks. This option isn’t available outside the parks.2

          

If you are not on Disney property, you are given a menu of possible locations headed by the question, “Where would you like to explore?” This lists includes all four theme parks, both water parks, Downtown Disney, Wide World of Sports, Dining Guide and Disney Resorts. After selecting one of the theme parks, your options are Today’s Events, Attractions, Characters, Search, Transportation, Games, My Favorites, Shopping, Guest Services and Dining. Choosing the Attractions area gives you a list of all of the attractions in that park plus it zooms in on the selected attraction on the guide map shown at the top of the screen. Scroll down to choose another attraction and the map moves to show that attraction’s location in the park. Also, when you select an attraction, it will show you the exact wait time and the FastPass return time if you are in that park. If you are not in that park, the wait time is more vague (“See now”, “Moderate” and so on) and the FastPass info is just whether they are available, limited or not at all.

If you click on one of the attractions, you get more information. The image to the right is an example of this. (You can click on this image to see a larger version of this image.) You can see a photo of the attraction at the top plus the wait time and FastPass return time is listed again. Below this, the description which gives you the minimum height requirement for this attraction (if there is one), any safety notices and then a description of the attraction. You can also scroll to see about any accessibility issues, get help finding the attraction and/or mark it as a favorite.

 

The Today’s Events section shows you the weather for Walt Disney World and park hours for the four main theme parks. The weather section shows the current temp as well as the forecast for that day. You can scroll to the right to see the forecast for next four days too. You also need scroll left or right to see all of the park in the park hours section. Below the basic opening and closing times, the shows for that park are listed with their next show time shown. Below that is a list of special events around the parks like Festival of the Masters or the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights.

The Characters section is one that really impressed me. After choosing this section, you can search for character by name or look in categories like “Mickey and Friends” or “Princesses and Princes.” Let’s say your little princess is crazy for Princess Jasmine and wants to see her in Epcot. After scrolling through to find Jasmine, MobileMagic tells you that she is next scheduled to be in Morocco at 4:45 to 5:30 pm (see image on the right – it’s another one you can click to see a bigger version of it). The part that really impressed was the ability to set a reminder for this event. What a great idea! This option was available for many of the scheduled shows and events at the parks. Now, if Jasmine isn’t scheduled to appear that day or if you are not actually in the parks, Mobile Magic will show you the following message: “Hello there, Princess Jasmine has returned to the palace at the request of the Sultan. She should be returning shortly, after all, Agrabah isn’t far away (by magic carpet, of course).” Cute, huh?

 

The Games section just has two games so far. One is a simple 6-question quiz that tells you what Disney character you are. There’s also a trivia game that you can play against other teams when you are in the parks or on your own when you’re not. There are five levels that get progressively harder and, to be honest, progressively trivial (i.e. “How long is the track length for the Tomorrowland Speedway?”) They would be great for playing while waiting in a queue, but hopefully more questions and games will be added.

Dining helps you find places to eat close to you and tells you about the restaurant. Mobile Magic gives you pricing information, but not menus. The Dining Reservations area here just gives the 407-WDW-DINE number to call, though you can just click the number to call it.

The other sections are very simple so far. The Shopping section lists mainly the hours and, sometimes, a brief description of the store. Guest Services helps you find restrooms, ATM, Guest Relations, First Aid, Smoking Locations and so on. Transportation helps you get from one location to another and, if you’re leaving your car at one of the large Disney parking lots, you can set Mobile Magic to remember your parking location. Very handy!

Now, everything wasn’t perfect and there are definitely some things that need to be polished. The error message on the right is what I kept getting when I was trying to do a restaurant search while I was in the World Showcase. No matter how I changed the search parameters, I got the same error message. Now, I’ve tried this feature since I got home and it seems to be working outside the parks.

Speaking of Dining, I ran into something odd. We were staying at the Boardwalk Inn and I tried checking out the dining options there. Mobile Magic only brought up three options: Private Dining (Disneyspeak for room service), The Belle Vue Lounge (a bar) and Leaping Horse Libations (the pool bar). No matter what I did, I couldn’t get Mobile Magic to bring up the wonderful restaurants that are on the actual Boardwalk. This seemed very… well, odd to me.

Since the Today’s Events section only gives you the hours for the four main parks, some important information was missing. While we were at WDW last week, Typhoon Lagoon was closed for refurbishment. Yet, when I went to the Typhoon Lagoon section, this was never mentioned. Oops.

I couldn’t help but wonder if a first time guest would be overwhelmed by all the information, but this is definitely a great resource for an annual pass holder or anyone who goes to Walt Disney World frequently. I would definitely recommend purchasing Mobile Magic a month or so before your trip so you can familiarize yourself with how the app works so it’s easier to use on your vacation. Hopefully, Mobile Magic will be available for smart phones by the time we go back to Walt Disney World in January. If it is, I know we’ll be buying a copy.

NOTES:

1 Current list of Verizon phones that Mobile Magic will work on:
– – LG Glance (the phone I was sent)
– LG VX Chocolate
– LG Chocolate 3
– LG Decoy
– LG VX 8700
– LG Venus
– Moto Adventure
– Nokia 7205
– Samsung Renown
– Moto 325
– Samsung 540
– Samsung 550
– LG 5500
– Nokia 6205
– Moto 755
– UT Starcom 8950
– UT Starcom GC1-c711
– GZ1 – S Boulder
– Moto K1 -M
– Moto – L7c
– LG 8350
– Samsung Trance
– Moto V3m
– Moto Barrage
– Moto VU204
– LGE VX-8360
– Motorola RIZR Z6TV
– Motorola VU30 (Rapture)
– Motorola Z6c
– Samsung SCH-A990
– Samsung SCH-U620
– Samsung SCH-U900 Flipshot

Update: New Phones Added (12/21)

– LG VX 9100 – enV2
– LG VX 9200 – enV3
– LG VX 8300
– LG VX8370
– Motorola V9M
– Motorola W766 Harmony
– Motorola VE
– Samsung U640 Buddy
– Samsung SCH – U650 (Sway)
– Casio Hitachi Exilim C721

 

2 I did discover that, if you don’t log out of the Mobile Magic app, you can continue to see the exact wait times and FastPass return times for whatever park you were last in. Two days later and many states away from Walt Disney World, I was still able to see the information for the attractions in Epcot. Not terribly practical if this is also your cell phone, but it was kind of fun to play with on the long drive home.

“It’s a Wonderful Life: The Radio Drama” – Falcon Theater in Newport, KY

I must admit that I’ve been a bit remiss in my sampling of Cincinnati area theater since I moved here in 1998. I’ve seen several productions at UC’s CCM and was even lucky enough to catch Shoshana Bean in both “Babes in Arms” and “Hot Mikado”. You knew then she was going to be a star on Broadway. We also had subscriptions to Broadway in America’s Cincinnati seasons for several years. Two favorites over the years were “Urinetown” and the Deaf West production of “Big River”. But, the seasons started to include too many so-so revivals and too many non-Equity shows at Equity prices so we stopped going.

It's a Wonderful Life

This past Thursday night, Tom and I were lucky enough to see the final dress rehearsal for the Falcon Theater’s production of “It’s a Wonderful Life: The Radio Drama”. As someone with a background in both theater and radio, I was very interested in seeing this production. The idea of transporting the audience back to a radio studio in late December of 1945 adds a very nice twist to this beloved story.

Since this is a radio production, the performers actually hold their scripts and often take on more than one part. My radio self smiled as they carefully held the scripts away from the mics and oh so gingerly turned each page. Also because this is a radio production, we get the joy of watching the sound effects being created by an excellent two-person team. There are jingle singers, an announcer and a program director who points out the APPLAUSE sign in case you missed it flashing.

As the lights go down, the wonderful story grabs your attention as it tells once again about the life of George Bailey and how one person can affect the lives of many others without even knowing it. All of the performers (except for the ones portraying George and Mary) played five or more characters which showcased their versatility. Lisa D. Dirkes (Cousin Tilly, Violet, Mrs. Hatch, Worried Woman, Bank Teller, Zuzu Bailey) and Peter Weiglin (Clarence, Harry Bailey, Potter, Ernie, Mr. Welch, Eustace, Randall) were especially good in their multiple roles.

Even with two intermissions, this lively show keeps you in the moment and eager for the next scene. The enactment of live radio production is spot on. In fact, the only thing missing was the smoking. As late as the 1990s, smoking in radio studios was still allowed. Some of the performers did do some business with an unlit cigarette as if they were anxious for the next break so they could get their next smoke in.

All in all, our first experience enjoying one of the many great theater companies in the area was a definite success. It was wonderful to get in the holiday spirit and I look forward to seeing more Falcon Theater productions and sampling more local theater in general.


Falcon Theatre presents

“It’s a Wonderful Life: A Radio Drama”
By Anthony E. Palermo

Directed by Ric Young, Produced by Ted Weil

Cast: Bill Keeton, Michael Potter, Caitlyn Allison, Lisa Dirkes,
Adrianne Underhill, Jim Waldfogle, Peter Weiglin, Beth Mizer,
Jenny Kessler, Amy Waldfogle, Carrie Mees, David Levy,
Judy Berrens & Amber Samblanet

Monmouth Theatre
636 Monmouth St.
Newport, KY 41071

Fri, Dec. 12 at 8 p.m.
Sat, Dec. 13 at 8 p.m.
Sun, Dec. 14 at 3 p.m.

Tickets: $15, $12 seniors and students

513-479-6783