George Takei is known for his role as Mr. Sulu in the Star Trek television series and films, his LGBTQ activism and his popularity on social media (dude posts some pretty funny stuff on Facebook). On the weekend of Sept. 20, Takei will be in Cincinnati to serve as Grand Marshal at Oktoberfest-Zinzinnati, leading thousands of spirited locals and visitors in the annual World’s Largest Chicken Dance. Elsewhere, Takei will collaborate with John Morris Russell and Cincinnati Pops to present The Final Frontier, featuring musical selections from Star Trek and Star Wars and other intergalactically charged orchestral pieces. Takei will narrate the evening with special guest Dean Regas, outreach astronomer at the Cincinnati Observatory, who will whisk audiences off to space with a multimedia show of NASA images. This engaging performance is sure to leave fans with Takei’s famous words: “Oh myyy!” 8 p.m. Sept. 20-21; 2 p.m. Sept. 22. $25-$103. Music Hall, 1241 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, cincinnatisymphony.org.
COOL LIVE RADIO QUIZ SHOW
Hosted by Peter Sagal, the Peabody Award-winning weekly National Public Radio news quiz Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me is coming to Music Hall. The fast-paced and irreverent take on the week’s news features a panel of celebrity humorists such as frequent players Mo Rocca and Paula Poundstone; scorekeeper and announcer Carl Kasell; and a variety of listener callers from around the country who have the chance to answer quirky quiz questions. Sit in the audience and play along. Or just laugh because it’s funny. 7:30 p.m. Oct. 4. $38-$123 (Carl’s Clubhouse). Music Hall, 1241 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, cincinnatiarts.org.
COOL CROSSTOWN COLLEGE HOOPS
The University of Cincinnati-Xavier basketball rivalry is a lot like Cincinnati itself: passionate, competitive, high-caliber and consistently moving forward despite some embarrassing transgressions in the past. The annual college basketball game once known as the Crosstown Shootout is now — because of an epic on-court brawl in 2011 that embarrassed both programs — the Crosstown Classic (less violent titles lead to less face punching?). The game for the second straight year is at U.S. Bank Arena, where both schools assume their guys will be slightly less emotional/crazy during the final minutes of the game. The UC and Xavier programs are recognized nationally as legit college hoops schools and have had historical and recent success in the NCAA Tournament. Mick Cronin’s veteran squad has made the Big Dance three straight years, while Chris Mack’s rebuilt roster will look to get back to the tournament after breaking its seven-season streak last year. Someone is going to get dunked on. 8 p.m. Dec. 14. $16-$122. U.S. Bank Arena, 100 Broadway St., Downtown, usbankarena.com.
Oktoberfest is a two-week-long annual festival held in Munich, Germany — Sept. 21-Oct. 6, 2013 — to celebrate the frothy, cold concoction of the gods that is beer. Luckily, Cincinnatians (aka Zinzinnatians) like to celebrate Oktoberfest locally — several times over — so you can enjoy all the beer, brats and dirndls you can handle without hopping on a flight. With a strong German and brewing heritage, the city starts celebrating with downtown’s Oktoberfest-Zinzinnati, America’s largest Oktoberfest (featuring the world’s largest chicken dance), followed by Newport Oktoberfest and finally Donauschwaben’s Oktoberfest, with all festivals conveniently spanning various weekends from Sept. 20-Oct. 6 (same as Munich). Oktoberfest-Zinzinnati: 5-midnight Sept. 20; 11 a.m.-midnight Sept. 21; 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sept. 22. Free. oktoberfestzinzinnati.com. Newport Oktoberfest: 5-11 p.m. Sept. 27; noon-11 p.m. Sept. 28; noon-9 p.m. Sept. 29. Free. oktoberfestnewport.com. Donauschwaben Society Oktoberfest: 6 p.m.-12:30 a.m. Oct. 4; 1 p.m.-12:30 a.m. Oct. 5; 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Oct. 6. Free. cincydonau.com.
To kick off the MidPoint Music Festival’s (MPMF) 12th annual weekend-long event, the 21c Museum Hotel is partnering with local print shop/brand-building agency Powerhouse Factories to assist them in curating the exhibition Flooded, a collection of gig posters in the hotel/museum’s first-floor galleries. In an effort to give MPMF-goers another destination for their weekend of music, Powerhouse (who’ve hosted MPMF’s annual Poster Expo in the Midway for the past several years now) will bring their prints inside the art institution, featuring the concert poster artwork of regional artists/printmaking collectives such as Jon Flannery of Cryptogram Ink, Trevor Grubbs of Feralmade and Brandon Hickle of Southpaw Prints. Powerhouse will continue to host MPMF’s Poster Expo in the MidPoint Midway, but with Flooded, it hopes to highlight the design and print process behind crafting gig posters with a comprehensive grouping of regional poster artists who are elevating the craft to fine art. Opening reception: 10 p.m. Sept. 20. Runs through Sept. 28. Free. 21c Museum Hotel, 609 Walnut St., Downtown, 21cmuseumhotels.com/cincinnati.
COOL FALL FEAST OF MUSIC
Cincinnati’s MidPoint Music Festival (MPMF) — which has been owned and operated by CityBeat for the past several years — returns Sept. 26-28 with more attractions and the biggest, most diverse lineup in its 12-year history. For the 2013 edition, MPMF will again showcase creative, innovative music makers from all over the world, with more than 170 acts performing on 16 stages scattered throughout Over-the-Rhine and Downtown Cincinnati (including a main stage at Washington Park, featuring artists like Psych Soul legend Shuggie Otis and AltRock heroes The Breeders). It’s wise to do a little pre-investigating before diving into MPMF; this year’s event features a wealth of unsigned or relatively unknown local, regional, national and international acts of supreme quality, playing everything from experimental Electronic music and progressive modern Psychedelia to vintage Soul and Americana … and well beyond. Outside of the fascinating musical offerings, MPMF will have expanded attractions on the free MidPoint Midway (including the family-friendly “KidPoint” on Saturday afternoon and more local vendors than ever), concert photo and poster exhibits and much more. Use CityBeat’s official MPMF guide (available digitally at citybeat.com; hard copies, published in the Sept. 11 issue of the paper, will be available at the fest) to do some pre-scouting, then dial up live.mpmf.com on your desktop and mobile devices to make your own personalized schedule
COOL OUTDOOR ARTS FESTIVAL
Many neighborhoods claim to support the arts, but Covington Arts is one of only five arts and cultural districts within the Commonwealth of Kentucky. And their support of the citywide art festival, Art Off Pike, is just one way that Covington demonstrates its commitment to art and culture in the Northern Kentucky community. Art Off Pike is an annual event celebrating the efforts of artists around the Tristate community and the downtown Covington neighborhood. Last year’s festival included 70-plus participating artists and — like a big unpretentious yard sale — included booths with art for sale, food trucks and engaging activities for children and adults alike. Participating institutions include The Carnegie, Baker Hunt Art and Cultural Center and the Behringer-Crawford Museum. 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sept. 29. Free. Seventh Street and Madison Avenue, Covington, Ky., artoffpike.org.
COOL DESIGN WEEK
AIGA Cincinnati, the professional association for designers, organizes Cincinnati Design Week (CDW), a loosely bound, six-day program of workshops, panel discussions, fashion shows, fundraisers and parties. With a mission of promoting design as a professional craft and vital cultural force, CDW highlights local talent such as designers Rosie Kovacs of the Brush Factory and Floyd Johnson of Ohio Against the World, as well as bringing in national design entrepreneurs like Aaron Draplin of Oregon’s Draplin Design Company. Events around town are ticketed separately (online and at the door) but some are free and only require an RSVP to secure your seat. A few highlights will be the TEDxCincinnati presentations at Memorial Hall at 7:15 p.m. Oct. 3 ($20-$25); Ohio Against the World’s exhibition/warehouse party at a secret location 9 p.m. Oct. 4 (free, but RSVP required) and Please’s ROYGBIV pop-up dinner 6:30 p.m. Oct. 6 at the Contemporary Arts Center ($150 per person). Sept. 30-Oct. 6. Prices and venues vary. cincinnatidesignweek.com.
COOL ONE-GAME PLAYOFF
OK, so a one-game playoff in baseball is actually kind of uncool — the season is 162 games long, and there’s a reason the playoffs have traditionally been decided by five- and seven-game series (even the Cubs win one game every once in a while). But MLB’s newly instituted second wild card spot is likely to be the only reason the Cincinnati Reds make the playoffs this year. As of CityBeat’s press time, the Reds were 2.5 games out of first place in the NL Central but 4.5 ahead of the Washington Nationals for the second Wild Card with 11 games to go (meaning they’d have to undergo a major meltdown to lose the final playoff spot). Unless they catch either St. Louis or Pittsburgh, the Reds will travel to one of those cities (whichever one finishes second in the Central) on Tuesday, Oct. 1 for a one-game playoff to determine which team gets to play in the real playoffs (if the Reds pass one of them and finish second, the game will take place in Cincinnati). Reds fans have endured two brutal playoff series losses in the past three years (being no-hit by the Phillies in 2010 and having the Giants come back from a 2-0 series deficit last year) and will be even sadder if the team loses this playoff game. But we still want to watch it because we love the Reds and maybe hate ourselves a little. The game will be televised on TBS Oct. 1. cincinnatireds.com.
COOL WEEKEND OF FIRE
On the hotter side of cool is Jungle Jim’s spicy Weekend of Fire. There will be more than 55 vendors from across the country hawking more than 350 samples of hot sauces ranging from mild to wild to the hottest you’ve ever had as well as spicy barbecue sauces, salsas, rubs, mustards and more. Decked out in fiery costumes and decorated booths, the hot sauce community and chiliheads alike take their condiments very seriously — with some serious additional fun. The fan-favorite Arena of Fire allows brave competitors to strut their stuff in hot, gross or sticky contests. And vendors will compete for several coveted WOFi Awards, voted on by the public. This year, awards include favorite Hot Sauce, Barbecue Sauce, Salsa and Hot Specialty products. Everyone attending the show gets a ballot upon entering. Trophies will be presented Sunday. There will also be live music and monorail trips if you can’t take the heat. 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Oct. 5; 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Oct. 6. $8; $1 ages 5-12; free for 4 and under. Jungle Jim’s International Market, Oscar Event Center, 5440 Dixie Highway, Fairfield, junglejims.com/weekendoffire.
COOL WAY TO RAPTURE, BLISTER AND BURN
Impress your friends with your cultural sophistication by catching the best in new plays at Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati. Here’s a perfect example: Gina Gionfriddo’s Rapture, Blister, Burn. The New York Times called the 2013 Pulitzer Prize finalist “an intensely smart, immensely funny new play.” It’s about a rock star academic, who is publishing, appearing on TV and just generally in the public eye. But when she drunk-dials her ex-best friend, now a stay-at-home mom and housewife, they commiserate about wanting each other’s lives. So they begin a game of musical chairs that looks at family, careers, romance and decisions that define life. Gionfriddo is a rising talent: She wrote a screenplay for House of Cards, the hit Netflix series about Washington politics — and she won the 2008 Obie Award for Becky Shaw, the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize and the Helen Merrill Award for Emerging Playwrights. Oct 9-27. $39-$43. Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati, 1127 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-421-3555, ensemblecincinnati.org.
COOL MASTERS OF ILLUSION
Penn Jillette and Teller are illusionists and entertainers who have been performing as a duo — Penn & Teller — since the 1970s. Their current show at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas is a mix of edgy, provocative and informative comedy and magic. Their tricks run the gamut from gory and dark with knives and guns and fire-eaters to clever pranks and revealing demonstrations — they frequently expose frauds and enlighten the audience as to how magic tricks are done. While Teller rarely speaks during performances, their magic speaks for itself. Hop on YouTube to see clips from their various live performances, television shows and specials including Penn & Teller: Bullshit!, where they debunk tricks and slights of hand; or Penn & Teller: Fool Us, a British competition show where magicians were challenged to fool Penn & Teller to win a coveted spot as the opening act for their Vegas show. Also check out a video of Teller’s classic “shadows,” a sparse trick using only light, shadow, a white surface, a rose and knife to create incredible and moving results. 8 p.m. Oct. 11. $75. Horseshoe Casino Pavilion, 1000 Broadway St., Pendleton, horseshoecincinnati.com.
COOL AND SPOOKY SWEET SUSPENSE
New Edgecliff Theatre (NET) has a unique and delightful way to garner support and give a one-time audience an engaging night of theater. They call it “Sweet Suspense,” an annual live performance in the style of old-time radio theater, with eerie sound effects produced live to create a creepy atmosphere. The annual event always happens near Halloween. This year, NET’s own playwright-in-residence Catie O’Keefe has adapted Frankenstein, Mary Shelley’s tale of reanimating the dead. This kind of performance encourages audience members to conjure up their own visions of the monster — making it all the scarier. As for the “sweet” component of the evening’s title, NET is true to its word: At intermission, there will be dessert buffet from area restaurants. Proceeds benefit NET. 7:30 p.m. Oct. 13. $35 adult; $20 child. Know Theatre of Cincinnati, 1120 Jackson St., Over-the-Rhine, newedgecliff.com.
COOL CHOCOLATE OVERLOAD
Cincinnati transforms into a giant box of chocolates at the fourth annual Cincinnati Chocolate Festival. A wide variety of local vendors — including Amy’s Table, Bake Me Home, Chocolats Latour, Cupcake Crazy, Donna’s Gourmet Cookies, Esther Price, Graeter’s, UDF and more — will be taking over Xavier University’s Cintas Center offering up chocolate tastings, celebrity chef demonstrations, contests, raffle baskets and more, including live vendor judging in categories like best cupcake, best cookie, most creative use of chocolate and so on. There will also be a kid’s zone with entertainment, contests, face painting and more. With cooler October temperatures, this promises to be an event that will definitely melt in your mouth, not in your hand. Proceeds support the Isaac M. Wise Temple Sisterhood. Noon-5 p.m. Oct. 13. $10; kids 12 and under free. Cintas Center, Xavier University, 3800 Victory Parkway, Evanston, cincinnatichocolatefestival.com.
COOL EMBARRASSING TRUE STORYTELLING
You’ve probably experienced moments in life that you wish you could take back. Rest assured, you’re not the only one. To prove the point, a few brave individuals will step onstage for True Theatre’s first evening of its fourth season: trueOOPS! Thanks to True Theatre co-founders Dave Levy and Jeff Groh, storytelling in Cincinnati is alive and well. This time around they promise narratives about broken bones, bad bets and split-second decisions gone awry — told by everyday people. That’s the premise of this inventive performing arts event: Four times a year a handful of volunteers are recruited to share personal experiences, organized around a specific theme. Their 15 minutes onstage can be hair-raising, heart-rending or just plain hilarious. Performances are at Know Theatre’s Underground Bar, which can only accommodate 100, so call early for tickets. 7:30 p.m. Oct. 14. $15. Know Theatre of Cincinnati, 1120 Jackson St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-300-5669, knowtheatre.com.
COOL DEAD DANCE PARTY
Exhale Dance Tribe knows how to celebrate Halloween. Ghost stories will come to life when Exhale’s talented group of contemporary Jazz dancers and local actress Jodie Linver present Dead Can Dance. Exhale founders Missy Lay Zimmer and Andrew Hubbard present this ghoulish performance for the second year, this time at Memorial Hall — a venue known for its haunted spirits. Throughout this dark and daring performance, see if you catch a glimpse of Memorial Hall’s resident spirit — reportedly a man in a dark suit. Enjoy drinks and complimentary hors d’oeuvres from 7-8:15 p.m. and get another night’s use out of that costume! 8:30 p.m. Nov. 1. $30. Memorial Hall, 1225 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, exhaledancetribe.com.
COOL BOOGIE WOOGIE COMEBACK
To the dismay of Boogie Woogie Blues fans, one of Greater Cincinnati’s most unique annual musical events — the Blues & Boogie Piano Summit — was absent from last fall’s local music event calendar, as the masterminds behind one of the area’s most beloved venues (and the Summit’s longtime home), the Southgate House, were busy switching buildings and re-opening in Newport as the Southgate House Revival. Now that the club’s former church space is open and thriving, Cincinnati Blues piano genius Ricky Nye, organizer of the event that has celebrated the charming, rumbling piano stylings of Boogie Woogie Blues for more than a dozen years, is bringing the event back. The 14th annual Blues & Boogie Piano Summit at the Southgate Revival will once again feature Nye and a collection of ace players from around the world. This year’s concert features Maryland’s Daryl Davis, Seattle’s Arthur Migliazza and the Netherlands’ Mr. Boogie Woogie, plus Nye and the back-up crew of Paul Ellis (drums), Chris Douglas (upright bass) and George Bedard (guitar). 8 p.m. Nov. 9. $20 in advance; $25 at the door, if any remain. Southgate House Revival, 111 East Sixth St., Newport, Ky., southgatehouse.com.
COOL NIGHT OF RED-HEADED CROONERS
Neko Case’s transcendent pipes are only comparable to legends like Patsy Cline (though Jenny Lewis has made quite the solo career aping Case). Working in a rootsy, folksy musical realm, Case has yet to release a bad album, though her latest for Anti- Records, the recent The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You, has received mixed reviews — likely more indicative of a press corps bored with her astonishing consistency than the actual album itself, which is excellent. (I’ve seen Case numerous times and I’ve never left in any other state besides “spellbound.”) Case comes back to the Cincinnati for a show at downtown’s Taft Theatre (her largest local appearance yet) with special guest singer-songwriter (and model) Karen Elson. 8:30 p.m. Oct. 22. $27.50 in advance; $35 day-of-show. Taft Theatre, 317 E. Fifth St., Downtown, tafttheatre.org.