Archive for September, 2005
“The Last Five Years” goes over relationships backwards and forwards — literally. It’s the story of Jamie and Cathy, a 20-something writer and an actress who meet, fall in love and marry. His story is told in the conventional way, from start to finish; hers unfolds in reverse order. The characters alternate songs and appear on stage together only in the middle, at their wedding.
Brad Faust (who directed “Proof” last season) assures this two-person musical isn’t as confusing as it sounds — but it makes the audience think as they put the puzzle together. The show, by 35-year-old composer and lyricist Jason Robert Brown, opens Toledo Rep’s 73rd season Sept. 23.
“The Last Five Years” was cited as one of Time’s 10 Best Shows of 2001 and won Drama Desk Awards for Best Music and Best Lyrics.
Jamie’s a “nice Jewish boy” tired of meeting “nice Jewish girls.” He’s smitten with Cathy, a “good Catholic girl” unlike anyone he’s met.
Scott Baker (a Maumee High School and Kenyon College graduate) plays Jamie. He finds the show very demanding: “Since we’re covering five years, any time I’m not on stage I’m changing my costume. There’s zero down-time.”
Baker has sung with the Toledo Opera for the past three years, appearing in “The Crucible” and “Sweeney Todd.” He says the show’s music “is just incredibly wonderful and entertaining. The lyrics are incredibly witty. Like in a [Steven] Sondheim musical, they just roll off your tongue. Some of the songs are downright hilarious.”
Playing Cathy is Lia Moore, who appeared in “Smokey Joe’s CafÈ,” “Honk” at the Croswell Opera House in Adrian and “A Christmas Carol” with the Toledo Rep. Moore, from Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti, said Cathy is a typical actress.
“She’s strong but vulnerable. You have to have strength, because you’re always getting rejected. At the same time, you have to be vulnerable,
because otherwise you come across as cold.”
As Jamie’s star is rising, Cathy’s is setting. At one point, she’s “exiled” to summer stock in Ohio (specifically, 40 miles east of Cincinnati), where she sings, “I could shove an ice pick in my eye/ I could eat some fish from last July/ But it wouldn’t be as awful as a summer in Ohio/ Without cable, hot water, Vietnamese food or you.”
“The Last Five Years” runs through Oct. 2. Tickets are $10 to 20 and are available by calling (419) 243-9277. The Toledo Rep is located at 16 Tenth Street (between Monroe and Washington streets).
When Kelly Sheehan followed in her mother’s footsteps, she ended up on 42nd Street in New York.
The former Toledoan sang and danced her way into the Broadway revival of “42nd Street” four years ago at age 17. She performed in the chorus and later won the replacement role for the supporting character, Loraine, a sidekick to a main character.
“Luck was definitely on my side. It was the right place at the right time,” she said.
Julie O’Connell, had joined the original company 20 years earlier as a chorus member, and when calls rang out for auditions for the revival in 2001, she took Sheehan to New York “just for the experience.”
O’Connell’s reaction straddled excitement and hesitation.
“She had to leave high school early and get set up in New York,” she said. “So she kind of proved me wrong. I told her, “‘Oh, this business is so hard; are you sure you want it be a dancer?’ ”
O’Connell teaches dance at her studio in Toledo, while Sheehan lives in Los Angeles, preparing for rehearsals for “White Christmas,” which opens in January. Sheehan’s resume dates back to her childhood when she started acting and singing just like her mother taught her.
“At 7 or 8 years old, she was doing a lot of work — commercials and on ‘Star Search.’ She was really a great little performer even as a little kid,” O’Connell said.
Sheehan learned dance styles from jazz to tap to ballet from her mother as well as other professional instructors. Born New Year’s Day in 1983, she entered the world just in time for O’Connell to begin rehearsals for the original “42nd Street” production.
“Pretty much all throughout my life I’ve gone to professional dance classes, growing up in New York and Los Angeles and having experience through auditions,” she said.
O’Connell recently branched into a new sideline, coordinating shows for the local men’s basketball team, the Toledo Ice. She held auditions looking for eight to 12 “young, energetic dancers” and said she hopes to create interesting halftime shows for the crowd at the SeaGate Centre, where the Ice will hosts its games when the season opens on Nov. 4.
“When this Toledo Ice opportunity came up, I thought I would be here for a while and help them get started,” she said.
She also continues to develop her own troupe, the Julie O’Connell Dancers, from her studio at St. Ursula Academy.
Owens Community College has signed 17 first-year student-athletes to baseball scholarships for the upcoming NJCAA intercollegiate season. Led by head coach Bob Schultz, the baseball program is beginning its fifth year at the Division II level. The men’s baseball program finished the 2005 campaign with a 31-23 overall record and tied Columbus State Community College for the OCCAC regular season title with a 12-8 mark. Schultz’s squad advanced to the semifinals of the NJCAA Region XII Championships before losing to Glen Oaks Community College.
First-year student-athletes receiving baseball scholarships include:
• Joshua Barton, Bowsher High School
• Andy Bean, Lakewood High School
• Brandon Best, Sylvania Southview High School
• Wesley Blank, Lake High School
• Scott Conley, Lake High School
• Bryan Converse, Franklin Road High School
• Chris Feix, Ontario High School
• Dylan Hefflinger, Defiance High School
• John Hooks Jr., Lorain Southview High School
• Jimmy Johnson, Whitmer High School
• Joshua Pheils, Rossford High School
• Anthony Ramos, Lorain Admiral King High School
• Jordan Schultz, Defiance High School
• Marshall Severhof, Eastwood High School
• Jeremy Sheeks, Otsego High School
• Micah Smith Jr., Lorain Southview High School
• Will Swary, Defiance High School
Toledo has one of the nation’s most historic and well-known minor league baseball teams — the Mud Hens. Toledo has always been known for being a top minor league hockey town. Now, Toledo has a professional basketball team — the Toledo Ice.
The expansion Ice will play home games Downtown at SeaGate Convention Centre in the revived American Basketball Association. The team’s owners are Nate Hopkins, Mike Perdue, Fatima Perrin and Chris Dotson; the Ice’s first head coach will be Melvin Newbern, a Scott graduate who continued his career at the University of Minnesota and then professionally with the Detroit Pistons.
“I can’t describe how truly wonderful it is to come back to my home and have my high-school coach at my side,” Newbern said at a news conference conducted Sept. 17 in the Scott Field House. The coach by his side was former Scott mentor Ben Williams.
“Coming back, being surrounded by friends and family, when I was approached, it was a no-brainer, and to be home and be embraced by friends and family and have the opportunity to do something I love — to coach this team. I’m ready to take any challenge that’s placed upon me,” Newbern said.
“This is a most special day for me, and Melvin has been basically an all-around person and became a great player,” Williams said. Williams, citing Melvin and brother Marcus, who also continued his career after playing high-school basketball in Toledo, credited Newbern family values as the reason for the two players’ continued success.
Dotson said he reflected Williams’ feelings about the Newbern family and Toledo basketball.
“We have a lot of talent and a lot of great young men (in Toledo). Young, black men making it in a tough city, and Toledo is a tough city,” Dotson said. “I always said, if you can make it in Toledo, you can make it anyplace.”
The Ice begins training camp Oct. 1 at Tam-O-Shanter with about 25 to 30 roster candidates. Newbern plans to whittle that number to 12, including 10 roster players and two alternates, before the first game Nov. 4 with the Detroit Wheels. The first home game will be at 7 p.m. Nov. 26 against the Kentucky Colonels.
On the court, the ABA is a reflection of its former self, which merged with the NBA in the early 1970s. There are 50 franchises in the league, and at least 20 of them, including the Toledo Ice, are expansion franchises in 2005-06.
Newbern said he expects his team will play up-tempo
“It makes no sense to walk up and down the court. We’re going to push it and on defense, we’re going to pressure, we’re going to get out there and force turnovers and mistakes,” Newbern said.
Newbern is not the only local person on the coaching staff. Steve Corrgens, the conditioning coach and trainer, is a St. John’s Jesuit High School graduate. One of Newbern’s assistant coaches is Shawn Reed, who played high- school basketball in Toledo.
Newbern said most of the Ice’s recruits attempting to make the roster are two- or four-year college graduates, or others who may have previously played professionally overseas. Newbern said he will keep an open mind about the possibility of former NBA stars in retirement joining the Ice roster, and added he plans to attend NBA camps to scout players who are being cut from rosters.
Unlike the former ABA, which competed head-on with the NBA until the two leagues merged, the new ABA is partly financed by the NBA. The Ice will play 18 home games at SeaGate Centre in 2005-06, with the majority scheduled for 7 p.m. on Wednesdays or Saturdays, Dotson said.
The Manos Greek Restaurant at Adams and 14th streets has been a fixture in the Uptown area for 23 years. Owner Manos Paschalis came to America in 1980 from Athens, Greece, earned a degree from UT. He opened his restaurant in 1982 and became an American citizen in 1984. He recently discussed the opportunities and drawbacks to establishing a business Downtown.
Edward Slack: What is your take on the Uptown business district?
Manos Paschalis: It’s not just the Uptown district. The strategy should be to look at the city as a whole, and what can be done to increase the population.
ES: What is your customer base?
MS: Most come from these surroundings, and business professionals who come for lunch. We’ve been here a long time and have created a core group of customers who sustain our business.
ES: Are you encouraged by what you see in the retail picture?
MS: I am encouraged by the activity taking place. There are a lot of individual local investors Downtown trying to accomplish things, and if the city tries to market the Downtown area for investors to come and expand, then we’ll see more activity in retail. Uptown could be designated as an entertainment district, which will be driven by population growth. One of the ways to create business is to attract the transient customer. We should look at the possibility of a streetcar on Monroe Street going from Downtown to the Art Museum to facilitate more activity and growth in the area.
ES: What do you see as hindrances to revitalization?
MS: To build in an area that has been in distress for many years, and the Downtown has been in financial distress for many years, city officials can waive a lot of laws and relax a lot of regulations to help small-business people because it’s so expensive, so difficult for somebody to go into business. We can’t depend anymore on the big corporations or stores of the past to revitalize the city. It’s going to be done by the little guys with a few dollars in the bank, individual entrepreneurs who are willing to invest their time and money in the effort.
What began as a boom 75 years ago may echo as a distress signal for the medical industry as a growing number of patients conflicts with a shortfall of qualified nurses to care for them.
Baby boomers approaching retirement have flooded the market because of increased life expectancy and greater medical demands brought on by more pronounced and complex conditions that require advanced care. The nation and the world are experiencing a pinch in filling nursing positions at hospitals, doctors’ offices, clinics and other medical-care facilities.
A wide range of other causes further complicates the dilemma, according to Jeri Milstead, Ph.D., a registered nurse and dean of the College of Nursing at Medical University of Ohio at Toledo. She said the multifold circumstances leading to the shortage includes the “graying of the nursing community,” advanced technology and broad career opportunities in health care.
But the single most-leading cause lies in the health care educational system, she said.
“There are thousands of nursing students turned away from nursing schools because, as bad as the nurse shortage is, the faculty shortage is worse,” Milstead said. “The national average age for nurse faculty is 51, which is higher than the average age for nurses.”
Much of her data came from studies by Peter I. Buerhaus, Ph.D., registered nurse and senior associate dean for research at the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing in Nashville, Tenn. Of the 2.7 million registered nurses in the United States, 80 percent to 85 percent serve the work force, which translates into about 139,000 vacancies in nursing. By 2020, the shortage will rise to 800,000 nurses nationwide.
The problem could be adequately addressed today, if nursing schools could accept the overflow of qualified applicants, Milstead said. A survey by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, an organization that represents more than 500 domestic nursing programs, reported 32,797 potential nursing students were locked out of classrooms in 2004 because of limited faculty.
MUO accepted 175 students last year of the roughly 400 to 600 students collectively enrolled in pre-nursing for the first two years of four-year programs at the UT and BGSU. Students then transfer to MUO in their junior year to complete the program.
The bottleneck remained plugged again at the start of the 2005-06 academic year.
“We had probably 50 to 75 very well-qualified students that we had to turn away this year,” Milstead said.
The health-care industry has turned to recruiters to fill vacancies, creating a seller’s market for nurses. Jo Lewton, operations manager for Diversified Medical Staffing in Maumee, said the National Center for Health Workforce Analysis determines a shortage of 4,916 nurses in Ohio. By 2020, the agency expects the figure to be 31,900.
“We are getting orders on a daily basis. I probably get approximately 100 orders a day for nursing staffs throughout the state of Ohio,” Lewton said. “As far as supply, it is trickling in, but it is not at the level it needs to be.”
In response, DMS offers “great packages” with paid benefits, sign-on bonuses, flexible schedules and other options to entice recruitment. Lewton said her company also works to facilitate the transfer of certification for licenses from other states — reciprocity agreements -— to draw from a larger pool of qualified personnel. A heavy emphasis on advertisement for available nursing positions reaches potential employees and contract workers through media sources and word of mouth, the most effective means, according to Lewton.
Additional recruitment efforts focus on veteran nurses who have retired or chose to pursue careers outside of nursing.
“We’re also helping with continuing education, paying them based off their experience level and keeping it competitive with the nurses coming out now,” she said. “You obviously don’t want to pay [new nurses] more than a nurse that has 20 years’ experience.”
The 2006 model year is a good one for consumers who value car safety: nearly all new models are adding safety features, either as standard or optional equipment.
It’s easy to see why. Carbuyers increasingly expect it.
“Safety outpaces convenience by a large margin on consumers’ wish lists,” said automotive researcher J.D. Power and Associates of its annual Feature Contenting Report.
New models are getting safety upgrades, from the re-engineered, 2006 Mazda MX-5 Miata roadster, the first Miata with standard side airbags, to the 2006 Dodge Durango sport utility vehicle, the first Durango offering curtain airbags as an option.
Luxury vehicles continue to add perhaps the most cutting-edge safety features.
The Acura RL, for example, the luxury brand’s top sedan, offers Acura’s first Collision Mitigation system in the 2006 model year. When sensors on the RL detect the sedan is closing quickly on a vehicle ahead and there’s a chance of a crash, the system can help prepare the car and its passengers for impact. It may automatically warn the driver, cinch seat belts and apply some brake power on its own, among other actions.
Acura, which offers the system as an option on the RL, is one of a handful of brands offering a sophisticated pre-crash system. Others include Mercedes-Benz and Lexus, and each of the systems is a bit different.
Mercedes’ Pre-Crash not only cinches seat belts, it closes windows and the sunroof in the event of an impending crash. The Lexus Pre-Collision system cinches seat belts and preps the brakes for maximum power.
Among lower-priced vehicles, there is a push, particularly by South Korea-based automakers, to provide more safety items as standard equipment.
The two newest re-engineered models from Hyundai — the 2006 Tucson SUV and the 2006 Sonata mid-size sedan — come standard with a full complement of six airbags plus anti-lock brakes and electronic stability control with traction control. This is true of even the base versions of Tucson and Sonata.
Meantime, consumers shopping among the new 2006s can, for the first time, find a model with six standard airbags that’s priced at $11,110. It’s the re-engineered, 2006 Kia Rio small car, the lowest-priced vehicle with that number of airbags. They include the two, federally mandated frontal airbags for driver and front passenger, two side-mounted airbags at the edges of the front seats, and curtain airbags that deploy from the ceiling on each side.
There is pressure for carmakers to compete on safety, despite highway fatalities that dropped to a record low of 1.48 deaths per 100 million miles traveled last year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
David Miller recently chose a new kind of sport utility vehicle: the Ford Escape Hybrid.
“I was very worried about our dependence on foreign oil, and instead of waiting for someone in government to do something, I decided I would do what I can,’’ said Miller, a Washington resident, adding that he also wanted a higher-mileage vehicle in these days of soaring gasoline prices.
With a four-cylinder, gasoline engine supplemented by on-board electric power, the Escape Hybrid ranked as the most fuel-thrifty SUV for the 2005 model year, rating as high as 36 miles a gallon in city driving and 31 mpg on the highway for a two-wheel-drive model.
“I have 50 years of purchasing ahead of me,’’ said Miller, a 32-year-old graduate student at George Mason University. “And I want more [hybrid technology and hybrid choices].’’
He’s getting his wish. The variety of hybrids and their sales in the United States are increasing. In the 2006 model year, Americans have more hybrid vehicles to choose from — 10 — than ever before.
They range from a two-seat Honda hatchback called the Insight that has a starting price of about $20,000, to a luxurious Lexus SUV, the RX 400h, which starts at $49,060.
New for 2006 are Mercury’s first hybrid, the Mariner Hybrid SUV, and the first Toyota-branded SUV hybrid, the Highlander Hybrid.
In addition, consumers will find a new-generation, 2006 Honda Civic Hybrid in showrooms that is restyled and has a better fuel economy rating than its predecessor — 51 miles a gallon in both city and highway driving.
And more hybrids are coming in 2006 and beyond.
According to automotive researcher J.D. Power and Associates of Westlake Village, Calif., there could be 44 hybrid nameplates in the United States by 2012.
Lexus is readying the world’s first luxury hybrid sedan, the GS 450h, for a spring 2006 debut, and Mercury and Nissan have announced plans for upcoming hybrid vehicles.
Indeed, Jim Press, president and chief operating officer of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., said his company is looking at offering hybrid power in virtually all Toyotas, including trucks.
“People are buying hybrids for good reasons beyond fuel economy,’’ he said. “They realize hybrids are a simple way to make an important difference in curtailing foreign-oil dependence, air pollution and greenhouse gases, plus they’re a lot of fun to drive. Being able to thumb your nose at gas stations on a regular basis is an added bonus.’’
Even with the hype, actual hybrid sales numbers remain small. In 2004, gas-electric hybrids accounted for just 0.5 percent of U.S. new vehicle sales. They could rise to 3.5 percent by 2012, Power reported.
Hybrid sales in the United States began in 1999 when Honda started selling the Insight. As time has gone on, hybrids no longer seem experimental.
“Many buyers of the first-generation Prius and Insight were tree-huggers,’’ said Wes Brown, partner at the automotive research firm Iceology, of Westwood, Calif. “Now, these hybrids have a much broader buyer base.’’
Some, he said, are “this influential group who says, ‘I can project this [environmental] image and feel good.’ The hybrids [also] are technology-laden, so some people feel it’s cool to drive one.’’
And since hybrids such as the Highlander and Honda Accord don’t look substantially different than their gas-only counterparts, they are attracting mainstream buyers, too, he said.
Rising gasoline prices are furthering the trend. According to a recent study by CNW Marketing Research in Bandon, Ore., 32 percent of American new-car buyers say they would “seriously consider’’ a hybrid if gas prices reached $3.75 a gallon. That’s up from 19 percent in 2002.
To be sure, there is an initial hurdle for shoppers on a budget. Because of the additional technology needed to manage the dual engine/electric powertrain, hybrids tend to be higher priced than comparable gas-only models.
For example, with a manufacturer’s suggested retail price, including destination charge, of $27,515, the 2006 Escape Hybrid is $4,365 more than a similarly-equipped, gas-only Escape XLT SUV. It would take the average driver who travels 15,000 miles a year more than five years to recoup this extra cost, even if gas were $3.50 a gallon.
The days of $1.50 per gallon fuel costs are reduced to stories for your grandkids. How do you save a few hard-earned dollars at the pump? The answer may be as simple as spending some time educating yourself and taking a pro-active approach.
First, let’s understand what you can do to improve your fuel mileage.
Even though the phrase “tune up” was coined in the day of the Model T when actual “tuning” was required, today’s high-tech vehicles require still require regimented maintenance. Replacing a dirty air filter could improve your fuel economy by as much as 10 percent, and today’s spark plugs can fire as many as 3 million times in just 1,000 miles. When was the last time you had them replaced? Check your owner’s manual and see what your car manufacturer suggests for service intervals. Here’s an important point: see what your manual suggests for “severe service” and what the term means. You may be surprised to know many people living in Northwest Ohio may need to adhere to “severe service” schedules due to our weather and local driving habits.
Did you know 147 million gallons of gas just disappear each year? According to the Car Care Council, we lose this much gas changing to vapor in the atmosphere annually because of missing, broken and loose vehicle gas caps. Today’s vehicles use a sealed fuel system and gasoline vapor is stored to burn in your engine. Seems like a simple thing to properly install your gas cap after refilling, but about 17 percent of the vehicles on the road have a problem in this area. It’s not good for the environment, either.
When was the last time you checked your tires for proper inflation? Under-inflated tires can rob you of one to two miles per gallon and also cause premature tire wear. The price of a $5 air gauge will pay you back tenfold.
How about your driving habits? Do you drive a bit aggressively? If so, you could be wasting as much as 30 percent of your fuel mileage with those jack-rabbit starts and simulated Autobahn maneuvers. Slow down, relax and save a few bucks. Try to drive the speed limit for once; just leave a couple of minutes early. Remember to use your cruise control on the highway for optimum mileage and regardless of what your Dad told you, your car will get much better mileage with the air conditioning on and the windows rolled up. It’s all about aerodynamics and drag.
If you have done everything you can to make sure your car is well-tuned and your driving habits are fuel-mileage friendly, but your gas card still requires a part-time job for support, it may be time to look for alternative transportation.
Today’s vehicle choices offer many alternatives with gasoline/electric hybrids leading the way for as much as double the fuel mileage of conventional gas-only engines. Many dealers have hybrid cars that offer great mileage and surprising performance.
Ever wonder what that FFV decal on your truck lid means? It may be time to get that manual out again.
Many other technologies are being developed that will offer other choices in a few years. Diesel hybrids, hydrogen, natural gas and electric vehicles may soon be commonplace on our highways. Flexible-fuel vehicles that can burn ethanol, fuel made from corn, have been built for years and are just now being used in the Toledo area. You may be driving one today.
OK, some of you still love an SUV but would like to make a responsible choice on your next purchase. The EPA has a Web page, the Green Vehicle Guide, to help you pick the vehicle with the best comparative fuel economy. It’s not just for SUVs; it covers most vehicles. Check it out at www.epa.gov/greenvehicles.
Mark Moses, who has been an ASE master technician for more than 28 years, is the owner of Moses Automotive and North Coast Motorcycle, both in the Toledo area. If you have a car or motorcycle question, e-mail him at Mark@MosesAutomotive.com.