Tuesday, June 27, 2000

To cast 'Aida,' opera worker goes to jail

        It's a real Law & Disorder thing, this Aida the Cincinnati Opera is about to unleash. Lots of cops and, well, felons. Seems the opera was having trouble finding supers (non-singing extras) to fill the stage.

        So super-coordinator Carolyn Giles called Helen Magers, program director of River City Correctional Center, a 200-bed residential treatment facility for non-violent felons.

        “We're community-based corrections. People are here instead of prison,” Magers says. “They stay up to six months with opportunities to work on education, employment and behavior.

        “We have a lot of talented people who just got in trouble, usually substance abuse. But opera fans? When Carolyn called I had no idea what response I'd get. But I got 21 volunteers.

        Aida rehearsals began Saturday and continue till the July 14, 19 and 22 performance dates. The guys will be accompanied by volunteer chaperones from the center, Magers says.

        Oh yeah, you'll see cops, too. Giles recruited at least six from the Mounted Patrol to work Act II's processional — the one where they usually have elephants and peacocks and such. Police and horses will be in costume.

        Putty Prize: Going to prove once again, some people have a lot of time on their hands.

        We know because Silly Putty celebrated its 50th with a contest to find the 50 silliest uses for the stuff. Ohio had the most winners with eight; Pennsylvania was second with five.

        And furthermore, says Stacy Gabrielle at Putty central, two were from Cincinnati:

        Gale Noel was 22nd with “Practice your golf putting at work ... if the ball hits something, the boss won't know because Silly Putty is silent.”

        Amy Graham was 47th with “Stick silly putty on the bottom of your dog's bowl so it doesn't slide around the floor.”

        Each won a dozen Silly Putty eggs.

        Highest ranking Ohioan was one Justin Knull, who rolls a wad of Silly Putty across his dorm room floor to clean without a vacuum. Our kind of housekeeping, that.

        Lost Pig: Oh no! Another pig on the lam.

        But it's not a Big Pig Gig pig. It's a lawn ornament named Pigerre that used to guard Chez Nora, the Covington bar run by Jimmy and Pati Gilliece. They know it's a kidnapping, because they got a note and a picture of Pigerre in St. Louis.

        “I had him out by my flowers, like he was digging for truffles — he's French — when he was snatched,” says Pati. “I'm trying to narrow it down, but no luck. One of our regulars is a pilot and another's a flight attendant, but I've eliminated them. It might be the guy who stole my head.”

        Excuse us?

        That's the 4-foot, 25-pound Marge Simpson head she made for MainStrasse's Mardi Gras parade in '99. Walt Illg swiped it as a joke.

        There's a reward for Pigerre — whoever returns him gets dinner: Cherry pecan pork with bourbon cream sauce.

        Knip's Eye View appears Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. Have an item to report? Call Jim Knippenberg at (513) 768-8513; fax: 768-8330.