Tuesday, January 7, 2003

Woman's riddler back, in bad togs

So then, it begins again. The winter of Loretta Motz Cook's puzzling discontent.

Cook is the Madeira woman who for the past 31 years has received a riddle at her door at Christmas. She has no idea who's sending them, but whoever it is has followed her through four changes of address.

Past puzzles have included a toy "Parton Cattle Co." truck full of cows crashing into a stockyard (Wreck the stalls with cows of Dolly). Another year was a bullet in a leafless tree (Cartridge in a bare tree). Last year's was a fist smashing through Play-Doh (Smashing through the Dough).

So this year's twister arrived and, as always, has Cook stumped. It's a park ranger astride a Jeep. He's wearing a black skirt, red fishnet stockings and yellow high heels. The name tag on his jacket identifies him as Adolph.

"I'm sure it has to do with `Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,' but I don't see how it goes together,'' she says. "There were eight of us the other night, and we agreed on Adolph the red hose, but why the black skirt? Why the yellow heels? Think your readers can help?"


Happy anniversary: Looks as if we're going to need a round of applause here. Clap it, if you will, for Joey & Maria's Comedy Italian Wedding, the interactive night of theater every weekend on the Belle of Cincinnati.

Produced by Cincinnatian Rich Neumann, it's a take on a rowdy Italian wedding with all the stereotypes - Granny in a frumpy black dress, Mafia relatives in shiny suits, groomsmen tanked on beer. Like Broadway's Tony and Tina's Wedding but with better food.

Anyway, the show just hit a double milestone: It celebrated its first-year anniversary and it opened its first satellite production. That would be in Columbus at Jim Bernstein's Howl at the Moon Saloon, where it's been a hot ticket.

And popular with the press: "The cast performs with such zaniness and mingles with such friendliness that this Wedding should have a long run," said the Columbus Dispatch.

So: ClapClapClap.

Banner year: Don't know, but it looks as if 2003 might be as good for Cincinnati mystery writer Jeff Marks as 2002 was.

Recall, his Who Was That Lady? Craig Rice, the Queen of Screwball Mystery (Delphi; $21.95) was nominated for three major mystery awards - an Edgar, an Agatha and a Macavity.

No nominations for 2003 yet, but he has three titles coming out: A Good Soldier (Silver Dagger Mysteries; $23.95) next month; then Criminal Appetites (a short-story anthology of cooking mysteries) and Atomic Renaissance (seven biographies of female mystery writers from the 1950s) will be out later in the year.

Find out more at www.jeffreymarks.com. Oh, and sign up for his newsletter - there are prizes involved.

E-mail jknippenberg@enquirer.com

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