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Opening Volley: September

You can’t always pinpoint the reason why in some parts of the world, some things seem to mean more to people than anything else. Here, you can.” — Actor J.K. Simmons, narrating an episode of Scarlet and Gray Days on the Big 10 Network Despite the cringeworthy notion that Buckeyes football trumps all other important [...]
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You can’t always pinpoint the reason why in some parts of the world, some things seem to mean more to people than anything else. Here, you can.” — Actor J.K. Simmons, narrating an episode of Scarlet and Gray Days on the Big 10 Network

Despite the cringeworthy notion that Buckeyes football trumps all other important issues in our home state (it doesn’t), the sentiment isn’t lost on me. Or maybe I’m just a sucker for hearing my childhood passion described by Juno’s dad.

But I can’t help it: even with the adult perspective that I’m watching college kids play a fast-paced, violent game, I get more excited about Ohio State football very year as I get older.

What started as a small town 8-year-old cheering on what seemed like gladiators later morphed into cheering on classmates and peers (who looked like gladiators)—and now, at the ripe old age of 35, still remains one of my favorite hobbies.

That’s probably because my primary hobby is talking. And I can’t stop talking about Ohio State football.

It starts during the summer—maybe on the golf course, or perhaps at a backyard barbeque with aunts, uncles, and cousins—and slowly it builds momentum right up until fall camp, when my Internet search history bleeds scarlet and gray all over any other research topics.

I can’t stop talking about Ezekiel Elliott, the soft-spoken stud who chose Columbus over his parents’ beloved alma mater. The kid in the bare midriff jersey who became a star last winter, just weeks after losing his close friend and teammate Kosta Karageorge.

I can’t stop talking about Cardale Jones, the former backup quarterback who was banished to Urban Meyer’s doghouse just a few years ago, and then last year led the most unbelievable college football championship run anyone’s ever seen. Oh, and the fact that he came back to school and turned down NFL money—even with a young daughter to care for—makes me root for him even harder.

I can’t stop talking about Braxton Miller, the former do-it-all quarterback who left parts of his body and soul on the field for the Buckeyes, only to have to face down two other quarterbacks when he returned for his fifth year. The “Block O” tattoo, inked right below his surgically repaired shoulder, is as permanent as his allegiance to his team and home state.

Speaking of home, I can’t stop talking about our cover boy, Darron Lee, the New Albany kid who started and ended his first regular season with sprints into the end zone. Currently poised to join the ranks of All-American linebackers from OSU, until last year he had never played a single down at his position.

Now, that the season is here, I certainly won’t stop.

I got my start as a sportswriter, and this time of year I get to slip that journalistic helmet on and get back in the game. At least a few poor bastards will get the long-winded end of a patio-based breakdown of a Buckeye football game, a one-on-one broadcast from a wannabe Kirk Herbstreit that they didn’t purposely tune into.

But I can’t stop.

I can’t stop watching Oscar-quality hype videos.

I can’t stop reading about recruiting (I know).

I can’t stop following @FakeUrbanMeyer.

I can’t stop being a Buckeye football fan.

And why should I? At this point, it’s perfectly normal for people to maintain a healthy enjoyment of their youthful obsessions, right? Star Wars and comics are more popular than ever—and we actually know how they’re gonna turn out. You like violence and power struggles and shifts in popularity? Forget Game of Thrones—that ain’t even real!

Look, I’m only kidding. I like those things, too. As a man who’s been mostly an arts writer, a sportswriter, and a columnist, I feel like I am constantly being the go-between—the medium between which the dual sides of my personal Venn diagram merge and communicate.

On the football fanatic side, I find myself urging those who live and die by the pigskin to embrace the nuances, the frailties of winning and losing, and the lessons learned about leadership and creativity, even within the boundaries of a bunch of really aggressive men slamming into each other. On the artistic side, I’ll spend portions of tailgate parties or nights watching football at the bar extolling the storylines that even a casual observer can appreciate. Or just convincing them that all people who like football aren’t insufferable bros.

This year, as Ohio State rolls out what just might be the most talented team in the program’s 125 years—which is saying something—these narratives are ever-present.

There’s so much to talk about.

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Dear I-670 drivers, your lives are about to change

614now

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Notice anything different on your I-670 and/or I-270 commute this week? Could be the nine 600-square-foot, 110,000-pound digital signs towering over the freeway.

When operational this fall, these signs will display information about the first ever Ohio SmartLane.

The I-670 “SmartLane” is the left shoulder that will be opened when traffic slows to a crawl. It will begin just east of I-71 in downtown Columbus and extend to I-270 on the East Side.

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The SmartLane will be closed most of the time, indicated by a red X. But when traffic dips below 50 mph, The Dispatch reports traffic monitors will send signals to the overhead signs to open the SmartLane.

A green arrow will appear along with a speed limit for SmartLane drivers to abide by (slower speeds keep traffic moving during congestion). A yellow indicator will appear when the lane is about to close.

ODOT will be installing more than 30 traffic cameras to monitor the lane for any obstructions, reports The Dispatch. The right shoulder of I-670 will be free for disabled vehicles to use.

The $61 million project is expected to be open in October. Visit ODOT.com for more information on the project and the new traffic patterns.

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Review: “Not” Chicken at HCT is poised for a takeover

Mitch Hooper

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Hail seitan!

No, this isn’t a religious cry—it’s a plant-based one. And the newest addition to the ever popular Hot Chicken Takeover will soon have everyone from carnivores to vegans saying the same thing.

Hot Chicken Takeover is a solidified Columbus staple. The lines for lunch at the North Market prove that, and expanding to Clintonville as well as Easton Town Center further show that the hype for HCT is real. And as a vegetarian, my jealousy was at an all time high. But now I can officially confirm: Hot Chicken Takeover is certified good. Look out Impossible Burger, you’ve got some competition.

The menu option at HCT is created out of the aforementioned seitan. Basically, as Wikipedia so eloquently describes it, it is: “Wheat gluten is a food made from gluten, the main protein of wheat. It is made by washing wheat flour dough with water until all the starch granules have been removed, leaving the sticky insoluble gluten as an elastic mass which is then cooked before being eaten.” I know what you’re thinking: yummy!

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But before you stick up your nose, this isn’t just your run-of-the-mill tofu knock-off. Compared to tofu which can become squishy and sponge-like, seitan holds it’s consistency where it stays more firm similarly to what happens to fried chicken. And this holds true at Hot Chicken Takeover. Whether you have yours served on a sandwich or atop two slices of white bread, the seitan never loses it’s texture and consistency. It goes to show that nine months of hard work pays off (shout out to Craig Morin!).

Speaking of texture and consistency, the exterior of the seitan brings all the flavor and heat you’d imagine from the regular menu options. It’s crispy and soaks up that house-made ranch dressing, plus little fried bits fall off throughout the eating process. It’s the simple things like crispy and spicy bits of the “skin” that give you the full experience.

Eating this “Not” Chicken Takeover really reminded me of my first experience of trying the Impossible Burger. As a vegetarian, you almost feel guilty eating something that resembles what it’s trying to replicate so well. Though the Impossible Burger takes the crown for appearance (it freakin’ bleeds, ya’ll), HCT is a close rival. And the seitan at HCT isn’t nearly as a flavor diva like the Impossible Burger. The flavor is similar to chicken, but it also allows the other flavors to shine like the sauce. Meanwhile, the Impossible Burger sometimes feels like it’s just trying too hard. Chill out, ya know?

It’s a big ask for meat-eaters to ditch the delicious chicken at HCT for a meal, but it’s worth it. As I brought back leftovers to my predominately carnivorous office, the only complaint they had was they wanted more. As for my vegan and vegetarian friends, save some house made ranch for me.

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Former attorney of Casey Anthony, Aaron Hernandez could represent Mt. Carmel doc

Mike Thomas

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The attorney who previously represented Casey Anthony and former NFL player/convicted murderer Aaron Hernandez could now take up the case of embattled former Mt. Carmel doctor William Husel.

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Attorney Jose Baez has filed a motion to represent Husel, who faces 25 counts of murder after allegedly providing deadly doses of the drug fentanyl to patients under his care.

Husel was fired by Mount Carmel earlier this year following an internal investigation. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

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