Ashland native Ernest Cline at B&N Union Square this evening

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Ashland, Ohio is best known as “The World Headquarters of Nice People,” as well as home to Grandpa’s Cheesebarn and a notorious speed trap on I-71, but it’s also the birthplace of Ernest Cline. The writer now lives in Austin, Texas, but he was born in my favorite pit stop between Columbus and Cleveland in 1972. Though he also wrote the screenplay for Fanboys, Cline is best known for the novel Ready Player One, part of which takes place in Columbus and which is being made into a movie with Steven Spielberg (another Ohio native) directing. This past week his second novel, Armada, was released, and to promote the book, Cline will be appearing for a Q&A and signing at the Barnes & Noble in Union Square today at 7pm.

Where to watch the Cavs win the NBA Finals

Just a quick note to let you know of a change of plans. Though we had a nice crowd at Croxley’s for Game 1 of the NBA Finals, turnout was extremely low for Game 2, and as such, we’re not going to be doing the watching parties mentioned below. Don’t let that discourage you from going to Croxley’s, though, as it’s a great spot to watch the games. Additionally, there are few other get-togethers for viewing the games around the city. The Union Square Browns Backers are hosting watching parties at their homebase of Brother Jimmy’s, and NYC Cavs are watching at American Whiskey on W. 30th Street. Meanwhile further uptown in Harlem, At the Wallace is showing the games and has imported kielbasa from Cleveland for Polish Boys and is making cocktails using LeBron’s Mix.

If you are interested in getting together at Croxley’s on Sunday, let me know in the comments or via Facebook, and if enough interest is shown, I will set something up.

OhioNYC NBA Finals Watching Parties

finalsAs anyone who grew up in Cleveland can tell you, it’s been a long time since the city has had a champion. You have to go back to 1964, when the Cleveland Browns won the NFL Championship. They also came out on top in 1950, ’54, and ’55, but as those titles predate the Super Bowl, they haven’t stuck in the  collective Cleveland consciousness. Meanwhile, the Cleveland Indians haven’t won a World Series since 1948 (and judging by their record thus far this season, it ain’t going to happen this year).

As for the Cleveland Cavaliers, the basketball team has never won an NBA title. There was the “Miracle of Richfield” in 1976, when they made it to Eastern Conference Finals for the first time, only to lose to the Boston Celtics. The Cavs made it back to the EC Finals 16 years later, but lost to Michael Jordon and the Chicago Bulls. It wasn’t until 2007 that LeBron James led them to the NBA Finals for the first time, but they couldn’t beat the San Antonio Spurs, who swept them in four games.

As such, this year’s appearance in the NBA Finals is a very big deal. While you could stay at home on your sofa to watch the Cavs take on the Golden State Warriors, wouldn’t you prefer the camaraderie of fellow long suffering Ohioans? We’ve made Croxley’s Ale House in Williamsburg the official locale for the OhioNYC NBA Finals Watching Parties. Almost every screen in this spacious venue will be on the game, sound will be broadcasted throughout, and there will be wing and beer specials every night. So put on your best wine and gold and join us for this great moment in Cleveland sports history!

The schedule for the series is below. Please RSVP via Facebook so we can give Croxley’s a headcount.

Thursday, June 4 at 9pm
Sunday, June 7 at 8pm
Tuesday, June 9 at 9pm
Thursday, June 11 at 9pm
Sunday, June 14 at 8pm (if needed)
Tuesday, June 16 at 9pm (if needed)
Friday, June 19 at 9pm (if needed)

Celebrate National Sliders Day

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There was a time before sliders became a ubiquitous menu item that the term was a somewhat derogatory way of referring to White Castle’s burgers. It was said that the chain’s burgers were so greasy that they just slid down your throat.

But why am I bringing this up now and in this forum? Well, today is National Sliders Day, and to celebrate, White Castle is giving away two free burgers per person via this coupon. (They now have other options besides the traditional slider, including a veggie version.) And though the franchise was founded in Wichita, Kansas, the company has been based in Columbus, Ohio since moving their corporate headquarters there in 1936. While several Brooklyn locations have closed, most notably those in Williamsburg and Bed Stuy, there are still a few White Castles left in New York City, including one on Eighth Avenue and 36th Street in Manhattan. Just be sure when you enjoy those little bundles of greasy goodness today that you spare a thought for the state from which they came.

Jack Hanna on Letterman for last time tonight

hannaGrowing up in Dublin, Ohio, I went to school with a girl named Suzanne who would always outshine everyone else when it came to Show and Tell. While most kids would bring in pet rocks, special selections from their baseball card collections, or perhaps a newly acquired Rubik’s Cube, Suzanne would bring in snow leopard cubs or a baby chimpanzee. Sure, I’m exaggerating to some extent, but going to school with the daughter of Jack Hanna ensured that at least a few times each year our classroom would feature some exotic animals.

Hanna made his reputation professionally as the Director of the Columbus Zoo, but it was his appearances on Late Night with David Letterman throughout the ’80s that garnered him fame and led to his own television shows. Hanna now lives in Montana, but he is still employed by the Columbus Zoo as the Director Emeritus. He’s in town today to make his last appearance on the Late Show, as Letterman is retiring next month.

Columbus’ Connections at Cake Shop tonight

connectionsThough Cleveland and Columbus may have lengthier histories when it comes to their rock scenes, for a period in the mid-90s, Dayton was every bit the hotspot as those bigger metropolises. With bands like Guided By Voices, The Breeders, Brainiac, and more calling the city home, the burg was perhaps producing more great bands per capita than anywhere else in the state. It was this self-made scene that inspired Kevin Elliott and Andy Hampel to first start making music as teenagers in Dayton’s suburbs. The first result of that initial inspiration was 84 Nash, a band that eventually moved to Columbus and released three superb records—including one on GBV frontman Robert Pollard’s short-lived Rockathon label—before calling it a day.

No doubt some of this influence also rubbed off on Kevin’s younger brother Adam, who until a few years ago drummed and sang with Times New Viking. The two siblings and guitarist Hampel have teamed up in Connections, a band rounded out by guitarist Dave Capaldi, formerly of El Jesus de Magico, and bass player Philip Kim. The five-piece has released three albums in quick succession, not to mention a slew of 7-inches. That the band has been able to convey a spastic zeal and deliver consistently great pop hooks over so much material says something about their upbringing. They’ll be in town tonight playing with their Anyway Records labelmate St. Lenox, as well as Brooklyn band EZTV, at Cake Shop. Check out their video for “Scanners” below. Continue Reading →

Cavaliers in Brooklyn tonight

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The Cleveland Cavaliers are at the Barclays Center for the first time this season to take on the Brooklyn Nets tonight. It will be the third time the teams have met this season and will very likely be the third time the Cavs put the Nets down. Just nine days ago, the Wine and Gold soundly beat Brooklyn by 25 points. With such high salary “stars” as Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, and Brook Lopez (all of whom make more than $16 million a year), one would hope that the Nets could provide a little competition and make a game of it. But there is no stopping the Cavs. They have gone 27-7 since January, when LeBron James returned after his break and the team traded for JR Smith, Iman Shumpert, and Timofey Mozgov. They’ve already clinched a playoff spot and recently schooled the Memphis Grizzlies, the number two team in the West, beating them by 22 points Wednesday night. Oh, and I haven’t even mentioned Kyrie Irving scoring 57 points against the defending champions, the San Antonio Spurs, two weeks ago. Enough said.

If you can’t make it to the Barclays Center, you can watch the game at home on the YES network or listen to it on WFAN 101.9 FM/66 AM. Start time is 7:30pm.