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Cover Story: Hot Supersize Picks

Staff Picks

By Staff · May 28th, 2008 · Cover Story
  Oceanaire Seafood Room
Emily Maxwell

Oceanaire Seafood Room

Hot Opening: Oceanaire Seafood Room
Downtown dining continues to evolve with the grand opening of the Oceanaire Seafood Room June 2 at the corner of Sixth and Walnut streets. The restaurant, which features furnishings and décor reminiscent of classic 1930s ocean liners, will offer more than 25 species of fresh seafood and shellfish flown in daily from around the world. Menu items popular in the chain's other markets include Nantucket Bay Scallops, Yellowfin "Ahi" Tuna, Gulf Red Snapper, Chesapeake Bay Style Crab Cakes, Jumbo Shrimp Scampi, Cioppino and Grilled Hawaiian Swordfish. The Oceanaire is also known for its raw oyster bar, which offers a selection of fresh (and often difficult to procure) oyster varieties from around the world. 513-381-8862 or www.theoceanaire.com. (Lora Arduser)

Hot Intervention: Summer Mentoring
Research has shown that kids who don't engage in any kind of learning or academic pursuits during summer vacation forget a lot of what from the previous school year. Toss in weeks of unstructured time, and kids have many opportunities to get into trouble. That's where the Cincinnati Youth Collaborative summer mentoring programs come in. The Young Writers Block June 2-Aug. 15 is designed for high schoolers interested in writing and getting involved in their community. Students will create and produce four "youth perspective" newsletters using Microsoft Word and Publisher software programs. More than just shooting hoops, Friday Night Basketball offers students ages 13-17 workshops and basketball games every Friday night for six weeks at the Price Hill Recreation Center. The fun begins on June 18 for the first 100 students. To volunteer your time or for more information, contact Chad Sloss at csloss@cycyouth.org, 513-475-4148 or www.cycyouth.org. (Margo Pierce)

Hot Karaoke: American Idyll at the CAC
As American Idol ends, American Idyll begins. The Contemporary Arts Center exhibition, curated by the museum's Maiza Hixson, explores the relationship between contemporary art and karaoke (continuing through Aug. 31). Because this is contemporary art, there's a serious, challenging, intellectually demanding element to the show - participating artists include Phil Collins (the video artist, not pop singer), David Herbert, Christian Kankowski and Candice Breitz. But because it's karaoke, it's also fun: Every Monday from 6-8 p.m. a site-specific stage/cafe known as "Walt's" will be set up on the fourth floor for audience participation and karaoke-inspired cocktails. And on June 16 and July 21 at 6:30 p.m., American Idyll artist/UC professor Ryan Mulligan will perform "I Invented a Restaurant That Serves Only Side Dishes." 513-345-8400 or www.contemporaryartscenter.org. (Steven Rosen)

Hot Local Boys Made Good: The Raconteurs
Though half of their membership hails from Greater Cincinnati and they've toured pretty much the entire globe, The Raconteurs have never actually performed in Cincinnati. Maybe they were making sure things were just right before coming home. The new album from the band (which features Patrick Keeler and "Little Jack" Lawrence from local legends The Greenhornes and Jack White and Brendan Benson from Detroit), Consolers of the Lonely, tops their power-poppy debut in sheer depth and breadth, as the Racs' continue to evolve into far more than just a White Stripes side project. The band swings through the new National City Pavilion on June 10, bringing with them Atlanta PsychGarage mirth-makers The Black Lips. Tickets are $29.25-31.25. 513-562-4949 or www.nationalcitypavilion.com. (Mike Breen)

Hot Scares: Cincinnati Horror Film Festival
"I've been a fan of horror movies for over 20 years now," says Cincinnati Horror Film Festival organizer Mitchell Wells. "It's just one of those film genres that you can get excited about. It has everything you could want -- thrills, special effects, romance, zombies." For 12 hours June 14, Wells and his partner Ben Isaacs are taking over the Fairfield Community Arts Center for a day of homemade horror flicks, director Q&As, prize giveaways, raffles, awards and more. This is a chance for fans of horror and low-budget horror filmmakers to be seen and heard. "There are directors and filmmakers in every city, and most of them have just as much talent as the people in Hollywood," Wells says of the entries, four of which are by local directors. "Having local talent in the fest was one of the first priorities." Doors open at 10:30 a.m., films start at 11 and go non-stop until 11 p.m. The only break in the gore is for lunch -- if you're hungry. Tickets are $15. www.cincinnati.horrorsociety.com. (Maija Zummo)

Hot Photographer: Gregory Crewdson
Mark your calendar for June 21. The Cincinnati Art Museum recently confirmed that it'll feature photographer Gregory Crewdson for the second time this year, this time for an exhibition. If you missed his appearance in February as part of the Lightborne Lecture series, make sure to see this show, which will highlight five works from Crewdson's latest series, Beneath the Roses. He's exhibited internationally and is known for his meticulously staged and elaborately produced large-scale digital photographs. Although often untitled, his haunting photographs imply unsettling and unusual narratives in the ordinary landscapes of small Northeastern towns. The work will be on display in the Vance Waddell gallery through Oct. 5. No tickets required. 513-721-ARTS or www.cincinnatiartmuseum.com. (Angela Kilduff)

Hot Wheels: Cincinnati Rollergirls
Today's roller derby is not the fake-crashing spectacle of the 1970s. Flat track derby is a legitimate sport now, as evidenced by the Women's Flat Track Derby Association, a 52-league nationwide organization with universal rules and regulations. The sport is basically a fast-paced roller skating race through a crowd of people with four skaters from each team lining up in a pack in front of one skater from each team with a star on her helmet. A two minute oval-skating session ensues with each team's blockers trying to keep the other team's star-wearer from getting past. It's fast and loud -- the local announcers comment during the action -- and it's actually pretty rough. Front row seating at the Gardens is "at your own risk." But to say that the glamour and spectacle of the late staged version is completely gone would be false. With participants knows as "June with a Cleaver," "Pink PAINther" and "Hannah Barbaric," the kitsch is still part of the experience. The Cincinnati Rollergirls' next home bout is June 7 at Cincinnati Gardens. Tickets are $10 advance, $15 at the door; kids 12 and under get in for $5/$7. www.cincinnatirollergirls.com. (Danny Cross)

Hot Hip Hop: Kanye West
Kanye West is a complex man, and his place in the current Pop music and Hip Hop worlds is equally multifaceted.

Inventive and smart, his albums -- including his latest, Graduation -- set the bar high, mixing positivity and social commentary with a few standard bling-and-boast barbs. But Kanye is an island, his public persona (often fairly) portrayed as a "looking out for No. 1" type, less interested in leading a Hip Hop revolution than he is in becoming the next Michael Jackson. Until then, Kanye's "Glow in the Dark Tour" stop at U.S. Bank Arena on June 13 -- with the impressive opening roster of Rihanna, Pharrell's N.E.R.D. and Lupe Fiasco -- will no doubt show his power as a live performer, another factor that makes him tower above most of his Hip Hop peers. Reviews of the audio/visual spectacle have already been extremely ... glowing. Tickets are $55-$85. 513-562-4949 or www.usbankarena.com. (Mike Breen)

Hot Novelist: Nathan Singer
Cincinnati-based writer Nathan Singer's latest novel opens with an observation: "It's hard to know how to feel when your best friend blows out a man's stomach with a shotgun." A visceral punch to the gut, In the Light of You grabs you from the get-go via expressive, lacerating prose and a brisk narrative engine drunk on its own unique rhythm. Like Singer's previous trips to America's dark underbelly, A Prayer for Dawn and Chasing the Wolf, this new effort is driven by subversive angst and a desperate need to explore the nature of identity and so-called freedom in a world handcuffed by conformity. And while some might call In the Light of You the coming-of-age tale of a disillusioned young man on the brink of oblivion, I have a feeling Singer would simply call it a story of survival. Bleak House Books will publish In the Light of You on June 15. www.bleakhousebooks.com. (Jason Gargano)

Hot Getaway: Pirate's Cove
Calling itself "Cincinnati's Tropical Paradise," Pirate's Cove Tropical Bar and Grill is pretty much just that, its elaborate outdoor tiki hut bar area coming on like something out of Fantasy Island. One half expects Ricardo Mantalban to show up in his finely tailored white suit and say something exotic like "Would you like to try one of our Tropical Appetizers? They're deeeelicious." Nestled amid hundreds of boats and lush green trees, the Cove is something of floating oasis complete with a well-stocked bar (the Red Ale is excellent), live music and a dance floor armed with more than a few eager shakers. Hungry? No problem: The menu offers everything from a vast array of tasty appetizers and salads to wraps and specialty dishes like the Barbequed Pork Ribs or the Island Tilapia & Shrimp. And how about this for another unique enticement: Smokers are always welcome. 4609 Kellogg Ave., East End. 513-871-1820. (Jason Gargano)

Hot Cause: Rivertown Breakdown
Some folks think summer unofficially starts with Memorial Day. But the expansive Rivertown Breakdown music festival has become a new tradition marking the season's change with style and lots of kick-ass Americana/Roots music. Organized by Folk singer Jake Speed, the annual event presents the cream of the local crop (performing everything from Bluegrass and Delta Blues to Rockabilly and Gospel) and raises money for a very summery cause: the ORSANCO River Sweep, a volunteer clean-up of the banks of the mighty Ohio. This year's music lineup June 7 at the Southgate House includes Tupelo Honey (pictured), Zumba, Faux Frenchmen, Rumpke Mountain Boys, Lagniappe, Ricky Nye, the Katie Laur Band, The Sidecars and Robin Lacy & DeZydeco. Tickets are $12 (for ages 21 and up) or $15 (for the 18-20 crowd). www. myspace.com/rivertownbreakdown. (Mike Breen)

Hot Waters: Lite Brite
The Lite Brite Indie Pop & Film Test might be one of the coolest/hottest events of the year on its own, but this year's Test gets a 100 because the King of Camp, John Waters, rounds out the weekend audio-visual overload with a special one-man performance. Yes, the man who brought the world legendary films like Pink Flamingos and Hairspray will be here live and in person. Other people will be there, too. The Southgate House is going to be crammed full of Indie bands and special film screenings July 24-27, featuring national musical acts like California's psychedelic rockers Film School, Benga/American group Extra Golden and the New Zealand trio Die! Die! Die!. Video highlights include a Lightborne Showcase, the best of the Ottawa International Animation Festival and the best of your submissions. Topped off, of course, with John Waters. www.litebritetest.com. (Maija Zummo)

Hot New Gallery: Murmur
A former textile warehouse in Fairmount now houses the multifarious Murmur, one of the local art scene's up-and-coming social undergrounds offering experimental concerts, book clubs, poetry readings, workshops, group discussions and art exhibitions. Those in the know (mostly from tracking the schedule posted on their MySpace page) are welcome to partake of their multidisciplinary inquiries that aim for fun as well as healthy discourse. Upcoming events include a closing reception Saturday for Arthur Brum's painting show, featuring live music ($5 at the door); a program of sound experiments June 6; and a poetry event June 13. Murmur is located at 2450 Beekman Ave. www.myspace.com/murmurmurspace. (Matt Morris)

Hot Treat: Yagoot
You might have seen the signs "Do you Yagoot?" and been intrigued. Yagoot is a new venture from the Busken family that just opened in Rookwood Pavilion in Norwood. Low-fat frozen yogurt that tastes just like "real" yogurt with a touch of citrus, Yagoot comes in two flavors (vanilla and coffee) with fun toppings like Cap'n Crunch, Cocoa Pebbles and Fruity Pebbles that make you feel like a kid again. Yagoot's flavor is playfully sophisticated, as is its flair. Euro-hip with bright yellow, green and orange chairs and padded seats, Yagoot is a good place to sit on your acidophilus. www.yagootyogurt.com. (Heather Smith)

Hot Rods: Newport Motorcycle Rally
Mid-summer will be hot, disgusting and bright, so naturally you'll want to slip into your leather fringed jacket and your favorite pair of leather chaps and ride over to Newport's riverfront July 3-6. The Newport Motorcycle Rally will have everything a gear-head could ever want, including live music, delicious food and great looking choppers. Motorcycle junkies can bring their bikes and compete to see who has the best-looking wheels. A charity poker ride will take place Saturday to help raise money for the family of Chuck Barrett, who lost his life in 2005. At each stop along the route, riders will be gambling for a cause, attempting to pick up a playing card to better their chances of getting the rare royal flush. Hopefully your poker face can withstand the whiplash. Free. 859-912-2509 or www.newportmotorcyclerally.com. (Beth Rudolph)

Hot Accidental Comedian: John Caparulo
Growing up in East Liverpool, Ohio, comedian John Caparulo reckons he had a choice among three football teams to root for. His final selection, he feels, is what helped make him a stand-up comic. "Had I picked the Steelers or the Bengals, I don't think I'd be a comedian now," he says. "Watching the Browns and dealing with all that heartache, especially in the late '80s, the Broncos and everything, that really made me kind of cynical. It made me think no matter how good things look it's never gonna work out." While attending college at Kent State, Caparulo had a revelation: "I'd be in class and I'd realize that the other students in the class really cared about the course. They bought the book and stuff. I just cared about making a good wisecrack in the middle of class." He performs at the Funny Bone on the Levee July 24-27. Tickets are $15. 859-957-2000 or www.funnyboneonthelevee.com. (P.F. Wilson)

Hot Beard: Kenny Rogers
If the younger set knows Kenny Rogers at all, it's either due to his old chicken restaurant chain or the hilarious parody of him as a drunken buffoon on MadTV. But if you grew up in the '70s, you know that Rogers was a megasuperstar -- Michael Jackson with a beard of silver. His 1980 Greatest Hits album, which is certified 12 times platinum, was the Thriller of its time; I'd wager eight out of 10 households had a copy. And each song is a Pop music classic, hummable to everyone who listened to the radio in the second half of the Me Decade. Rogers looks a bit like a wax figure of himself these days -- thanks, plastic surgery! -- but that golden voice is still intact. Like Chuck Norris, Rogers is worthy of an irony-laden comeback triumph. That beard alone deserves its own cult. Rogers swings by Fraze Pavilion in Kettering Aug. 19 for a night of nostalgia. Tickets are $20-$45. 513-562-4949 or www.fraze.com. (Mike Breen)

Hot Talent: Gala of International Ballet Stars
Simply put, ballet tech cincinnati's annual Gala of International Ballet Stars Aug. 9 at the Aronoff Center offers a night of razzle-dazzle dancing. It's one "wow" moment after another, and it's a true international affair. No other show around attracts such stellar talent from so many countries: Germany, France, Spain, The Netherlands and, of course, the United States, with representatives from San Francisco Ballet and Dance Theatre of Harlem among other renowned companies. Ballet tech cincinnati's Producing Artistic Director Marvel Gentry Davis says she can't believe it's the Gala's seventh year. "We're still bringing new, exciting dance," she says, adding that this year will be the most contemporary show yet, but audiences can rest assured that certain classics will still be represented. First-timers Jacoby & Pronk (pictured) will break out a world premiere for the occasion, and former Cincinnati Ballet faves Joseph Gatti and Adiarys Almeida's have their first local performance since departing for Ballet Nacional de España in Madrid. Tickets are $42-$62. 513-621-2787. (Julie Mullins)

Hot Political Up-and-Comer: Chris Seelbach
One mark of a good life is figuring out how to turn your passion into a way to support yourself, especially if that passion involves trying to make the world a better place. Freshly out of law school, Chris Seelbach has done just that by mixing his love for politics and progressive causes with not just one but two jobs. Seelbach, 28, is vice president of the political consulting wing for The Seidewitz Group, a local marketing research and branding firm. "It's very similar to what we do for corporations," he says, describing his duties. "We help a candidate develop their message for voters. We look at who we're trying to sell it to and what they're like, and we look at their competition." Recent clients included the Cincinnati City Council campaigns for Roxanne Qualls, David Crowley and Cecil Thomas, all of who were re-elected by sizeable margins. The work is a continuation of sorts of his volunteer work on local Democratic campaigns he did frequently after moving here 10 years ago to attend Xavier University. Nowadays, Seelbach also is a political correspondent for The Daily Buzz, a nationally syndicated morning TV talk show seen in 147 U.S. markets. Although the show is based in Florida, Seelbach tapes his segments here. In his spare time, Seelbach and his partner Craig keep busy by rehabbing their fashionable two-story Over-the-Rhine loft and taking care of several pets. (Kevin Osborne)

Hot Musical Marriage: CSO Does Zep
On the surface, a marriage of Led Zeppelin and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra might seem slightly dichotomous, but it isn't a stretch when you think of it rationally -- the music of the greatest live band in the world (according to this month's Classic Rock magazine, anyway) interpreted by one of the greatest symphonic bands on the planet. Clearly, Led Zep's dazzle was accentuated by Robert Plant's otherworldly vocals and Jimmy Page's stunning guitar, but the epic nature of the band's foundational music provided their shock and awe -- and it's that elemental appeal that the CSO will exemplify when it presents The Music of Led Zeppelin: A Rock Symphony at Riverbend's new National City Pavilion Aug. 1. And it's a safe bet that no one from the symphony will be too drunk or stoned to take the stage ... they're only taking this thing so far. Tickets are $21.75-$61.75. www.nationalcitypavilion.com. (Brian Baker)

Hot Trash on Stage: Jerry Springer: The Opera
Cincinnatians love opera in the summertime; Cincinnati Opera has been presenting big singers in big stories for 88 seasons. But this summer a really big personality will be on another stage, larger than life and portrayed in a way few ever imagined. The controversial Jerry Springer: The Opera will be presented in its regional premiere June 26-Aug. 3 by New Stage Collective (1140 Main St., Over-the-Rhine). That's right, our former mayor and current TV show host. Don't think this work, by composer Richard Thomas and lyricist Stewart Lee, is a joke: The musical, which originated in England, is the only show in British theater history to win every major award -- the Olivier, the Critic's Choice, the Evening Standard and What's On Stage. "It's funny, it's brilliantly original and ... about as much fun as you are likely to have with your clothes on," wrote one critic. It was presented in New York City at Carnegie Hall in January (directed by Jason Moore of Avenue Q and conducted by Stephen Oremus of Wicked), starring Academy Award nominee Harvey Keitel in the title role, and the reviews were great there, too. The opera's first act portrays the taping of an especially wild Springer TV show; the second act finds him waking up in Hell for the worst day of his life. Veteran local actor Nick Rose portrays Springer in this intriguing mash-up of high art and pop culture that's been described as hilarious and heartbreaking. Religious protesters are likely. Hey, what else would you expect from Springer's return to town? Jer-RY! Jer-RY! Jer-RY! Tickets are $12-$20. 513-621-3700 or www.newstagecollective.com. (Rick Pender)

Hot Tragedy: La Traviata
Outsized emotions, soaring vocals, extravagant sets and costumes are what grand opera is all about. And that's how Cincinnati Opera's season concludes July 23, 25 and 27, with Verdi's La Traviata in a lavish new production designed by the team who created last year's spectacular Aida. The tragic love story of Violetta, the courtesan with a heart of gold, plays out amid opulent settings furnished in exquisite detail -- three chandeliers in the party room -- and costumes that promise to be stunning eye candy. The cast features soprano Hei-Kyung Hong, a frequent performer at the Metropolitan Opera, and tenor Richard Leech, noted for strong singing and powerful acting. Tickets are $25-$105. 513-241-ARIA or www.cincinnatiopera.com. (Anne Arenstein)



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