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by Jac Kern 08.06.2015 67 days ago
Posted In: TV/Celebrity, Movies, Humor, Comedy at 01:10 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

I Just Can't Get Enough

Jac's roundup of pop culture news and Internet findings

The big news this week: True love is dead. As we know, Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner confirmed their separation earlier this summer after months (years?) of speculation. Similar rumors have circulated around Will and Jada Pinkett-Smith lately, probably because they’re always talking about how hot their marriage is like a couple of desperate stunt-queens. Despite a recent report confirming their divorce, the couple is denying it. But wait — there’s more. Another famous music couple actually confirmed their split: Reba McIntyre and husband of 26 years (and manager — did that make him Reba’s manager?) Narvel Blackstock. This comes weeks after more contemporary Country couple Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert addressed their breakup. I know, I know — all Hollywood couples are destined for doom — but nothing could prepare me for the news of the leaders of the First Family of Cool, Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale, divorcing. TRAGEDY! Clearly there’s a national emergency, because freaking Miss Piggy and Kermit have added their names to the R.I.P. True Love list. I thought summer was the season for love.

File under This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things: HitchBot. Some good-natured Canadian scientists created a good-natured hitchhiking, talking robot that could get rides from good-natured Canadian humans from Nova Scotia to British Columbia (basically, across the entire good-natured country). Anyone could pick up the bot and take it closer to his destination, documenting their travels along the way. HitchBot made it to Victoria, B.C., safe and sound — success! HitchBot later ‘hiked its way through Germany and the Netherlands before embarking on its first stateside voyage.

Naturally, we had to ruin everything. On July 17, HitchBot started in Salem, Mass., with a destination of San Francisco. It made it to Philly on Aug. 1 before being busted up by some evil Americans. The scientists, being the good-natured Canadians they are, aren’t taking it personally. BustedBot is coming home for repairs before making another American excursion — starting in Philly — sometime next year. Oh, Canada!

Jumanji is getting a reboot next year, so I guess I might just bury myself underground for a while. Nothing is sacred. Here’s some more Sony Pictures flicks coming in ’16 and ’17.

And I guess while we’re being emotional, here’s audio of Chris Farley as Shrek — the late comedian was the original voice actor for the role; he died shortly before the film was finished and Mike Myers took over the iconic role (and clearly changed the character with his boisterous Fat Bastard-esque take on Shrek’s vocals). You may need to squeeze onto the donkey in your life as you listen.

Jesse Pinkman’s house is for sale.

Will Ferrell is working on a Funny Or Die comedy special for HBO called Ferrell Takes the Field, which follows the funnyman as he takes on 10 different positions for 10 different MLB teams in five games. This all went down March and somehow I missed that shit, because apparently Will played for the Reds against the Diamondbacks for the special during spring training. Ferrell Takes the Field premieres on Sept. 12.

And to end on the happiest of notes, here’s dream-BFFs Amy Schumer and Jennifer Lawrence fucking jet-skiing together like a couple of babes. #squadgoals

by Nick Swartsell 08.06.2015 67 days ago
Posted In: News at 10:17 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Morning News and Stuff

Council votes to halt off-campus UC police stops; Metro lets riders track buses in real time; advice to Kasich in song form

Good morning all. Here’s what’s up on this rainy Thursday.

Cincinnati City Council yesterday voted to temporarily suspend an agreement with the University of Cincinnati Police Department that allowed that agency to make traffic stops on streets beyond UC’s campus. The decision comes in the wake of the shooting by UC officer Ray Tensing of unarmed motorist Samuel Dubose a half-mile from campus in Mount Auburn. Council voted unanimously to pull back a memorandum of understanding between UC’s police force and the Cincinnati Police Department that allowed UC officers to do things like make traffic stops and other enforcement efforts off-campus. Now, officials from UC, CPD, and the city are working to hammer out a better protocol for campus police in light of Dubose’s death and revelations about the university department’s increasingly aggressive stance in the neighborhoods around the school.

Traffic tickets and use of force incidents have increased dramatically in the past few years as the school has added more than 30 new police officers. UC police have drawn guns 16 times this year, according to documents reported by the Cincinnati Enquirer. Officers with that force did so only twice in 2014 and twice in 2013. Traffic stops in that time have gone up a staggering amount — from 615 in 2012 to a projected 3,400 or more in 2015, according to numbers cited by City Councilman Kevin Flynn. That increase has disproportionately affected people of color. Some 63 percent of those ticketed in the past year were African American, documents show. Council members say until those issues are addressed, UC police should hold off on making off-campus traffic stops.

• Maybe this seems like a small bit of news to the car-owning readers, but for folks like me it’s huge: Metro is making real-time bus data available to riders. This is an awesome feature for days like today, when it’s pouring down rain and I can look out my window to see an uncovered bus stop tantalizingly close to my house but too far away to sprint to once I’ve seen the bus coming. The public transit organization today launched a bus-tracking system that allows riders to call a special phone line, check out a website or download new apps to follow the bus they’re waiting for in real time. Riders can call 513-621-4455, visit go-metro.com or download Metro’s new free Bus Detective and Transit Apps to get the information. Info is available in English and Spanish.

• Cincinnati City Council needs one more vote to take up suggested changes to the city’s charter that would limit the mayor’s power. Among those changes is a provision that would end the mayor’s ability to pocket veto legislation by not referring it to council committees and another that would allow council to initiate the firing of the city manager.

The city’s Charter Review Task Force has been working on its suggestions for more than a year and this week delivered its final report on what it sees as pressing changes needed to the city’s governing document. Some of those changes don’t sit well with Mayor John Cranley, which is to be expected, since they would limit his power considerably. Council members P.G. Sittenfeld, Yvette Simpson, Wendell Young, Chris Seelbach and Kevin Flynn support the suggestions.

Flynn, who chairs Council’s Rules and Audit Committee, appointed the task force. Supporters on council yesterday said  the city’s current charter is vague and that it never intended to give the city’s mayor the sweeping powers that position now has. However, opponent Vice Mayor David Mann says the mayor can’t actually legally use the pocket veto and that a winnable legal battle could ensue should he try against the wrong council member. In the meantime, putting the pocket veto issue up for a vote could mean council would be stuck with it if voters decide to preserve that power. That leaves a few wildcards: Council member Amy Murray is mum about her stance on the proposed changes. Christopher Smitherman wants to give the mayor more power, not less. That leaves Republican Charlie Winburn, usually a staunch ally of Cranley. But Winburn vocally disapproved of former mayor Mark Mallory’s use of the pocket veto provision and has made noises about supporting council’s ability to hold the city manager accountable. Will he side against his ally Cranley? It’s a cliffhanger. Should council pass the recommendations, they’ll go on the November ballot.

• Should drivers be required to give bikers in the city more room on the road? Some groups think so. About half of states require a three foot passing distance between cars and bikers on the road. Ohio isn’t one of those states, but the city has passed similar rules requiring drivers to give bikes at least three feet when passing them. Now some bike activists say that distance isn’t far enough for safety, and some are pushing to get rules changed. The League of American Bicyclists, for instance, has issued a new set of safety recommendations it says improves upon the three-foot rule. Will the city take up these recommendations? Only time will tell.

• Finally, let me set a scene for you. Tonight is the night. Cleveland is the place. In a dim hotel room somewhere near the venue for the first official GOP 2016 presidential primary debate, Gov. John Kasich is staring into a mirror adjusting his tie, making tough faces and gestures and mouthing the words to this song as it blasts in the background. Well, if he's not listening to that classic Eminem joint, he should be.

Kasich, the underdog, number 10 out of 10 among invited debate contestants, must know this is a make or break moment for his quest to grab the Republican nomination for presidency. He’s been here before, back in 2000, and this is probably his last big shot. He’ll have to spar with the national names — Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Scott Walker and yes, of course, Donald Trump — and also answer for his record, which on first glance looks strong but has some big weak points, as this recent editorial from Cleveland.com points out. Data suggests that his much-touted Ohio miracle is at times illusory. The state's median household income — $46,000 — is still less than the nearly $50,000 it was in 1984 when adjusted for inflation. We’re also well below the national average of $51,000 a year. Kasich has also presided over a disastrous turn for the state’s charter school system. He supports Common Core and has expanded Medicaid in the state. Some of these points will make him more vulnerable to a potential Democratic challenger. Some are things that hardline conservatives will hate him for. But all are fair game in the coming rhetorical bloodbath in Cleveland tonight.

That's it for me. E-mail or tweet at me with your favorite debate drinking games.

by Maija Zummo 08.05.2015 68 days ago
Posted In: Alcohol, Beer at 09:56 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

This Week's Dining Events

Glier's Goettafest, Lumenocity dinners, Cincinnati Restaurant Week and CityBeat's annual Sugar Rush

Chicken and Waffles — An easy class where you’ll create various types of chicken and waffles. 6-8 p.m. $75. The Learning Kitchen, 7659 Cox Lane, West Chester, thelearningkitchen.com.

WingFlig! — Washington Platform serves up more than 40 different types of wings, bone-in or boneless, with sauces ranging from mild to hot to stupid. Through Sept. 5. Prices vary. Washington Platform, 1000 Elm St., Downtown, washingtonplatform.com.

Glier's Goettafest — Goetta is the only food that might be more Cincinnati than Skyline, and this weekend Glier’s is holding a festival to celebrate the Queen City’s favorite breakfast food. In addition to live music, games and a goetta-eating contest, you can sample the crispy-creamy treat in more than 40 different forms, including nachos, gyros, jambalaya and brownies. They’ll even have a goetta vending machine. Go forth and goetta. 5-11 p.m. Thursday-Friday, noon-11 p.m. Saturday, noon-9 p.m. Sunday. Free. Newport’s Riverfront Levee, 1 Riverfront Place, Newport, Ky., goettafest.com

Celebrate Tomato Season — Get new recipes for this summer fruit/vegetable. 6-8:30 p.m. $50. Jungle Jim’s, 5440 Dixie Highway, Fairfield, junglejims.com.

In Season: Corn — Learn great recipes to use up the influx of local and seasonal corn. 6-8 p.m. $75. The Learning Kitchen, 7659 Cox Lane, West Chester, thelearningkitchen.com.

Spotlight Lumenocity — The Lumenocity Spotlight experience features a gourmet dinner by the bite, open bar, live music from the orchestra, Lumenocity and celebrity chefs including Jean-Robert de Cavel, David Falk, Todd Kelly, Julie Francis and more. 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday. $275 per person. Washington Park Lawn, 1230 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, lumenocity2015.com.

Phoenix Group Wine Dinner — Take a drive to the Golden Lamb in Lebanon for a paired wine dinner from the Phoenix Restaurant Group chefs. The five-course menu will be inspired by Remy Pannier wines and fresh, seasonal produce. 7 p.m. $60. Golden Lamb Inn, 27 S. Broadway St., Lebanon, RSVP to 513-932-5065.

Moroccan Spiced Chicken — Use warm spices inspired by Moroccan cooking. Make your own spice blend (Ras el Hanout) and use it to create a spiced chicken with roasted carrots, apricots and parsley. 6-8 p.m. $75. The Learning Kitchen, 7659 Cox Lane, West Chester, thelearningkitchen.com.

Craft Beer and BBQ Cruise with BB Riverboats — Drink Christian Moerlein beer and enjoy a barbecue buffet while you cruise the Ohio River. 6:30-10 p.m. $58 adults; $40 children. BB Riverboats, 101 Riverboat Row, Newport, Ky., bbriverboats.com.

Wiedemann Brewing Company Anniversary Party — Wiedemann celebrates their anniversary at Pompilios with drinks specials and bocce ball tournament. 5 p.m. Pompilios, 600 Washington Ave., Newport, Ky., 859-414-6949.

Shrimp Three Ways — Learn to make shrimp three different ways — panko crusted, in tacos and with bacon grits. 5-7 p.m. $75. The Learning Kitchen, 7659 Cox Lane, West Chester, thelearningkitchen.com.

Ole Smoky Shine & Dine with BB Riverboats — Eastern Tennessee’s Ole Smokey Moonshine distillery will be on board for tastings and souvenir mason jar. 6-9:30 p.m. $60 adult; $40 children. BB Riverboats, 101 Riverboat Row, Newport, Ky., bbriverboats.com.

Crawl for Cancer — Grab a team and travel to five different bars for pitchers of beer, music and fun. Benefits The Cure Starts Now and Our Daily Bread. 1-5 p.m. $45 per person. Jefferson Social, 101 E. Freedom Way, The Banks, Downtown, crawlforcancer.org/cincinnati.php.

Cazadores and Cans — Drink specials and music from DJs Kevin and Yusef. 9 p.m. Prices vary. Righteous Room, 641 Walnut St., Downtown, foureg.com.

Freestore Foodbank Fundraiser at MOTR — In conjunction with Second Sunday (theme EcoMANIA), MOTR Pub hosts their fourth annual Freestore Foodbank fundraiser. Collection hours are noon-11 p.m. for check and cash donations; MOTR will match up to $1,000. Live music starts at 5 p.m. Noon-11 p.m. Free. 1345 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, motrpub.com.

New Orleans Dixieland Jazz Cruise — A creole-inspired dinner on the river with live Dixieland music. 6-9:30 p.m. $50 adults; $35 children. BB Riverboats, 101 Riverboat Row, Newport, Ky., bbriverboats.com.

Second Sunday on Main: EcoMAINia — This monthly, themed block party turns Main Street into a party every second Sunday. This month’s theme is EcoMAINia, featuring more than 100 earth-friendly vendors, a one-stop recycling event (which will accept everything from cell phones and plastic bags to cork, used writing instruments and clean clothing), live music, an interactive farmers tent with free vegetable transplants and a cooking demo with the Civic Garden Center. 
Noon-5 p.m. Sunday. Free. Main Street, between 12th and Liberty streets, Over-the-Rhine, secondsundayonmain.org

Cincinnati Restaurant Week — Dine at some of the area’s top eateries, which will be offering three-course, prix-fixe menus. Participating restaurants include Zula, Metropole, Jeff Ruby’s, Nicola’s and Via Vite (to name a few). Through Aug. 16. dodowntowncincinnati.com

An Elegant Summer Table — Seasonal dishes like grilled pork tenderloin, roasted corn and Challah bread pudding, wild mushroom and green bean salad and almond cake with fresh berries. 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m. $50. Jungle Jim’s, 5440 Dixie Highway, Fairfield, junglejims.com.

Fresh Mozzarella Workshop — Learn to prepare a ball of fresh mozzarella, then use it to make a caprese sandwich and fig, mozzarella, and mushroom stacks. 6-8 p.m. $75. The Learning Kitchen, 7659 Cox Lane, West Chester, thelearningkitchen.com.

Sugar Rush — Calling all sugar plum fairies and lord licorices. We've all heard the phrase, "like a kid in a candy store," but you don't have to be a child to indulge in a smorgasbord of sweets. Join CityBeat at the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park for Sugar Rush on Aug. 12. You'll feel like Charlie in the Chocolate Factory (minus that annoying Veruca Salt) as you explore a colorful candy extravaganza. Several local sweeteries will provide samples of their best cupcakes, ice cream, donuts, pies, pastries and more. Guests will vote for their favorite treat of the night — the winner will receive bragging rights and an award to display at their shop for a full year! There will also be a panel of experts handing out special recognitions for the most creative sweets. To go along with this new location — the Playhouse in the Park — Sugar Rush's theme is “Secret Garden," which is playing at the theater Sept. 5-Oct. 3. 
A portion of Sugar Rush ticket proceeds will benefit Cincinnati Ballet. This event is open to all ages. Children 8 and under are free when paired with an adult paid admission. 5:30-8:30 p.m. Wednesday. $20. Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, 962 Mount Adams Circle, Mount Adams, tickets here.  
by Nick Swartsell 08.05.2015 68 days ago
Posted In: News at 09:54 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Morning News and Stuff

Cincy could get fed money for tech jobs; someone flew a drone into Great American Tower; will Kasich get called off the bench?

Good morning all. I dunno about you, but I’m pretty drowsy today after too much mid-week fun last night. But we’re going to push through together and get this news thing taken care of, right? Right. Here’s what’s up today.

Cincinnati is one of 10 more cities newly eligible for more than $100 million in federal grants aimed at getting folks with employment barriers trained to work in the tech industry. The city’s designation as part of the White House’s TechHire Initiative means the city can apply for that money to fund innovative programs with local partners that seek to increase the number of tech workers in the region, a big issue here. Currently, there are somewhere around 1,600 unfilled tech positions in the Greater Cincinnati area, and some industry experts expect that number to skyrocket in the coming decade. City officials say they hope to use the TechHire designation to get 300 Cincinnatians into tech jobs, especially city residents who have a hard time finding job training and work due to issues with child care, language barriers and disabilities.

• Watch where you’re flying that drone, bro. An unknown person yesterday flew one of the unmanned aircrafts into the Great American Tower in what I can only imagine was an attempt to pluck that dumb tiara off the building and dump it into the Ohio River. The drone was unsuccessful at that presumed task, however, and managed only to break a window. Glass fell onto the building’s parking garage, but no one was hurt. Flying a drone around downtown is illegal, though I hope someday in the near future our civic leaders will carve out an exception to that rule so I can have drones deliver pizza to my office window.

• In the aftermath of the July 19 University of Cincinnati police shooting of Samuel Dubose, UC has created a new position to help oversee the school’s police department. Vice President of Safety and Reform Robin Engel has spent two decades working with and studying police, UC officials say, and is the best person to lead the school’s police reform initiatives during the current crisis. You can find out more about Engel and her background in this story, which outlines the major challenges she faces ahead. One issue: the increase in traffic tickets given by UC cops, especially off-campus, and the pervasive racial inequity of those tickets. In four years, the number of tickets given by UC cops has risen from 286 to 932, and the share of those tickets going to blacks has gone from 43 to 62 percent.

• A year ago today, John Crawford III was shot to death by Beavercreek police officer Sean Williams in a Walmart there as he carried a toy rifle over his shoulder. Crawford was black and Williams was white. At the time, such shootings were an important, but tiny, blip on the nation’s radar. How times have changed. The police shooting death of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown by Ferguson, Mo. police officer Darren Wilson five days later brought national attention to the issue, sparking deep unrest in the St. Louis satellite and around the country. Other shootings, including the recent death of Samuel Dubose at the hands of University of Cincinnati police officer Ray Tensing, have kept the issue front and center in the national spotlight. Now, a year after Crawford’s shooting, a federal investigation into his death continues and has yet to yield many new details. Rallies and gatherings are planned tonight at Courthouse Square in downtown Dayton at 7 p.m. and at the Beavercreek Walmart where Crawford died at 6 p.m. Crawford’s family will be appearing at the Dayton event.

• Finally, Gov. John Kasich got some good news yesterday. Over the past few weeks, when I picture Kasich, I picture an eager high school third-string quarterback on the sidelines beseeching coach to put him in the game. In this scenario, “coach” is the GOP and “the game” is of course the 2016 GOP presidential nomination contest. Yesterday, Kasich got word that he should suit up and start doing some warm ups, because he’s being called onto the field.

The Ohio guv made the cut for the first of six pre-primary debates, which takes place in Cleveland tomorrow. Kasich and U.S. Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky both eeked into the event, which has been limited to 10 slots. Kasich just edged past former Texas governor Rick Perry, who will stay at home in the Lone Star State, probably eating brisket and gazing longingly toward Cleveland. Just kidding. No one gazes longingly toward Cleveland. In any event, Kasich’s campaign announcement two weeks ago certain gave him a small boost — he’s now polling at about 3 percent, much better than the 1 percent he was at before he launched — but he’s still got a lot of work to do to catch up to GOP heavy-hitters former Florida governor Jeb Bush, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, and surprise quasi-frontrunner real estate magnate Donald Trump. Thursday’s debate may be a good chance for him to further set himself apart from the crowded field. Will Kasich’s surge continue? Will he pull off some kind of Rudy-esque triumph and make it to the big game? I would say the odds are long, but everyone loves an underdog.

by Nick Swartsell 08.04.2015 69 days ago
Posted In: News at 10:02 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Morning News and Stuff

Streetcars will be slightly delayed; Dubose family takes step toward civil suit; state lawmakers want to drug test welfare recipients

Good morning all! Here’s the news today.

It looks as if the city’s streetcars will arrive a month or two behind schedule, though the delay probably won’t push back the transit project’s start date next fall. CAF USA, which is building the cars, anticipates needing at least another month past its Sept. 17 construction deadline to finish the vehicles and might need as long as November to finish. The delay isn’t entirely out of the blue — CAF relies on subcontractors whose provision of key components can run behind, and each vehicle must pass a number of safety and quality control tests that can push back delivery dates.

• The family of Samuel Dubose, who was shot and killed July 19 by University of Cincinnati police officer Ray Tensing, has filed opening paperwork in what could become a wrongful death lawsuit over the incident. Audrey Dubose, Samuel’s mother, has asked a judge to make her executor of his estate so she can pursue the lawsuit on behalf of the estate. It’s the first step toward a civil suit, possibly against the university, Tensing himself or both. Dubose was unarmed when Tensing shot him during a routine traffic stop in Mount Auburn, about a half-mile from UC’s campus. Tensing stated he was dragged by Dubose’s Honda Accord and had no choice but to shoot him. Another officer corroborated his story in a police report. But Tensing’s body camera footage shows an entirely different story, revealing he shot Dubose in the head before his car started moving. UC fired Tensing and a grand jury has indicted him on murder charges. He’s out on $1 million bond. UC has also created a new position, the Vice President of Public Safety, in the wake of the shooting.

More details continue to trickle out about the case. Yesterday, the Hamilton County Coroner’s office revealed that a gin bottle Dubose handed to officer Tensing during the traffic stop did not contain alcohol, as originally reported, but instead held a fragrance mixture Dubose was using as an air freshener.

• Cincinnati Public Schools Superintendent Mary Ronan and representatives from other area districts met yesterday to kick off the Greater Cincinnati School Advocacy Network, a group of 41 local districts from Hamilton, Butler, Warren and Clermont Counties pushing back against state and federal mandates on teachers and education administration. The group’s meeting included calling out the increasing demands of high-stakes testing and data collection requirements among other unfunded requirements local districts say are overly onerous.

“Why does the state capitol need to know what class my child is in in third bell?” Ronan said at the meeting, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer. “We struggle with the million pieces of data they want.”

But some education advocates say state-level accountability efforts are necessary to ensure that students are being offered a quality education and that push back against some of the testing and data standards is an attempt to dodge responsibility for school performance. Ohio Gov. John Kasich has supported some of these state-wide and federal mandates, including the controversial Common Core federal education standards. He has argued that the expectations are about preparing U.S. students to compete in a global marketplace.

• Republican state lawmakers are mulling a bill that would require welfare recipients in Ohio to pass drug tests. If applicants for assistance fail that test, they would be required to attend rehab and would be barred from state assistance for six months. State Rep. Ron Maag, a Republican from Salem Township, says the goal is to keep state funds out of the hands of drug dealers and to get help for addicts. Those who fail drug tests could still receive state assistance for their children through a third party, Maag says. The bill would set aside $100,000 for treatment of those who fail drug tests and would start with a test run in a few select Ohio counties. Similar laws in other states have had a rather dismal track record. A Tennessee law requiring drug tests for welfare recipients found only 37 drug users out of the 16,017 people tested. The state spent thousands of dollars on the tests. Further, the tests might not be constitutional, and the Ohio chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union has threatened a lawsuit should the bill pass here.

• Here's something awful: the American Civil Liberties Union has filed a federal lawsuit against the Kenton County Sheriff's office over an incident in which a sheriff's deputy allegedly handcuffed two mentally disabled children at a Covington school, despite the fact the eight-year-old boy and nine-year-old girl did not pose a physical threat to anyone at the time. The ACLU filed the suit yesterday over the incident, which happened last year.

• Finally, will Gov. Kasich get to take the big stage and debate other GOP presidential hopefuls at the first official GOP primary debate in Cleveland Thursday? It’s coming down to the wire. Though Kasich has surged following his campaign announcement last month, he’s still small potatoes. He’s polling at about 3.5 percent and is hovering somewhere around ninth place in some polls. Fox News, which is hosting the debate, has said it will limit space in the event to the top 10 candidates. The network is expected to announce which 10 will get in later today. Kasich did attend a kind of warm-up candidate forum in New Hampshire yesterday along with 13 other contenders for the Republican nod. Not making the cut in Cleveland, however, would be somewhat humiliating for the home-state governor.

by Natalie Krebs 08.03.2015 70 days ago
at 10:29 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
jeffrey blackwell

Morning News and Stuff

Police Chief Blackwell addresses city council on police body cameras; Cranley opposes changes to the city's charter; Kasich's smug run for president?

Hey everyone! Hope you all had a great weekend! I know I tried to spend as much time outside as possible, but now it's back to work, and here are your morning headlines.  

Cincinnati Police Chief Jeffrey Blackwell spoke to City Council today about his plan to bring body cameras to the University of Cincinnati police department. The program is estimated to cost $1.5 million dollars and the department would like to obtain 60 cameras. The push for body cameras for the Cincinnati police comes in the wake of the release of University of Cincinnati police officer Ray Tensing's body camera footage, which shows the fatal shooting of Samuel DuBose during a July 19 traffic stop in Mount Auburn. Chief Blackwell stated in a press conference following the release of the footage and announcement of the indictment of the officer that body cameras were on the way for Cincinnati police, but he did not give a time frame for when the program could begin.

• Details of a settlement between the estate of David "Bones" Hebert and the City of Cincinnati were released over the weekend. We first told you about the settlement Friday after the Cincinnati Enquirer reported a portion of that settlement. Hebert's estate will get $187,000 from the city, but more important, say his advocates, is a city acknowledgement that police acted improperly in his shooting death. Hebert was killed by Cincinnati police in Northside in 2011
after officers responded to a 911 call alleging an intoxicated man was robbed by Hebert and assaulted with a pirate sword. Hebert was located sitting on a sidewalk on Chase Avenue in Northside about 10 minutes later. During subsequent questioning, officers said Hebert drew a knife and moved toward an investigating officer, causing Mitchell to believe the officer’s life was in danger. Mitchell shot Hebert twice, killing him. Initial investigations cleared Mitchell of wrongdoing, but other reviews found he acted outside of police protocol, getting too close to Hebert and not formulating a plan for engaging him. Friends of Hebert have since made efforts to clear his name, saying he was a non-violent person caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. His advocates have set up a website, friendsofbones.org, to present evidence in the case.

"On July 30, the City of Cincinnati, four of its police officers and the Estate of David “Bones” Hebert agreed to settle the civil rights action pending in federal court," the city said in a statement. "Initial reports issued regarding the incident in 2011 declared that Mr. Hebert attacked a police officer with an opened knife or sword.  There was no sword. Furthermore, while an opened knife was recovered at the scene, the evidence that Mr. Hebert intended to attack or swipe at a police officer was not conclusive. Instead, Mr. Hebert’s actions, as well as actions taken by the officers on scene, contributed to the use of deadly force.  The City regrets this unfortunate loss of life and again expresses its condolences to the family and those who cared for Mr. Hebert.  This lawsuit, and now its resolution, should provide confidence that the matter was fully investigated and that a fair resolution was reached to this tragic event."

• Six people were arrested during a march remembering Samuel Dubose, who was shot July 18 by University of Cincinnati police officer Ray Tensing. You can read our coverage of the vigil and march here.

• Mayor John Cranley opposes a measure that would weaken his power as mayor. Four amendments to the city's charter proposed by the City Council-appointed Charter Review Task Force would include one that would stop Cranley's ability to kill ordinances without a city council hearing or vote. Another would give the city council majority power to initiate the firing of the city manager, which only the mayor can do now, and kill the use of a pocket veto, which Cranley used to veto certain items in the 2016 budget. Cranley has to approve and send the ordinances to City Council, which could vote to put them on the ballot as early as next week, but the mayor has such strong opposition to the amendments that the committee many reconsider them altogether after a year of putting them together. Cranley has stated that he'd like a little more in return for losing some of his power and declined to forward the ordinances to the Rules and Audit Committee this week.   

• School districts in Butler, Clermont, Hamilton and Warren counties are uniting against state-mandated testing. Forty-one districts part of the Greater Cincinnati School Advocacy Network want more local control and less "burdensome" mandates. Mason City Schools spokeswoman Tracey Carson said not all school districts are equal and needs vary between rural, suburban and rural school districts. The most recent state budget will cut $78 million from Ohio's education budget. 

• Two weeks after Gov. John Kasich's announcement that he's running for president, Newsweek has published an article on the GOP presidential hopeful's smugness. The article points out several issues so far with Kasich's big run for Washington D.C., including his reported short fuse, questionable claims of a 2014 "landslide" victory for governor and the fact that, well, most Americans don't even know who Kasich is and many Ohioans don't even like him. According to a recent poll, Kasich is number eight in line for the GOP nomination with Donald Trump leading the poll.

by Nick Swartsell 08.03.2015 70 days ago
Posted In: News at 09:56 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Hundreds Gather for Vigil, March Remembering Sam DuBose

Six arrested at subsequent march through downtown

Hundreds gathered at the Hamilton County Courthouse on Friday night for a candlelight vigil in remembrance of Samuel DuBose, who was shot July 19 by University of Cincinnati police officer Ray Tensing. The vigil and subsequent march were peaceful, though Cincinnati police arrested six after the march moved through a concert on Fountain Square.

Tensing has been indicted on murder charges for DuBose’s killing and was fired by the UC police department. He has pleaded not guilty and was released on $1 million bond last week. He’s also suing UC for his job back.

Members of the DuBose family, including Samuel’s mother Audrey DuBose, and members of organizing group Cincinnati Black Lives Matter led the Friday event. Attendees held candles as peaceful music played and chants of “We are Sam DuBose” echoed around the plaza in front of the courthouse. Some wept or prayed and embraced each other.

“Tonight, we are here to honor the family, the legacy, the memory, the beautiful spirit of Sam DuBose,” said organizer Christina Brown. “We are here because we love each other. We are here because we want justice. We are here because we are powerful together.”

Crowds remember Sam DuBose at a candlelight vigil July 31.
Nick Swartsell

“We’re here to reclaim our humanity,” said attendee Emmanuel Gray. “Not just black people, but white people, in recognizing that black people are human and part of this great family.”

DuBose and other family members spoke about their faith and called for peace from the crowd and justice for her son.

“Y’all got to stand up and continue to believe,” one family member said. “Keep the peace. Thank you for coming out and standing up with us. If we can all stand for something, they will see us. They will never forget Sam and all the others. They will never forget these days that we’ve been out here.”

Protesters at a July 31 march remembering Samuel DuBose
Natalie Krebs

Following the vigil, about 200 people marched through Over-the-Rhine and downtown. That march was mostly uneventful, though a CityBeat reporter witnessed a man exit a red Ford Explorer on Walnut Street during the march and briefly brandish a knife, threatening marchers, before re-entering the vehicle. The march ended just off of Fountain Square when police confronted people who had marched through a concert there.

Attendees at a march for Samuel DuBose enter Fountain Square July 31
Nick Swartsell
Members of the DuBose family asked marchers to disperse, and the crowd began to thin. Before that happened, however, six people were arrested. CityBeat reporters were at the scene of those arrests, some of which seemed to occur simply because those arrested did not move quickly enough in the direction police wished them to. Multiple officers took down and handcuffed Damon Lynch IV and Brian Simpson, for instance, when they didn’t immediately comply with police orders to relocate. Both have been charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.

Police arrested six people at a July 31 march for Samuel DuBose.
Natalie Krebs
Onlookers film police making arrests during a July 31 march for Sam DuBose.
Natalie Krebs

Another marcher, Mary Condo, was arrested for being part of a “disorderly crowd,” according to charges filed in Hamilton County Courts. Others arrested include Kevin Farmer, who is charged with menacing two local businesses for reportedly threatening to damage them, and Kimberly Thomas and Darius Clay, both charged with resisting arrest. The six were arraigned on Saturday, and some have been released on bond.

by Maija Zummo 07.31.2015 73 days ago

Your Weekend To Do List (7/17-7/19)

Seinfeld, Wet Hot American Summer, a pork and whiskey festival, rescheduled Paddlefest, Wild for Pets and more



Yada, yada, yada, y’all. Jerry Seinfeld, comedy icon and everybody’s favorite sitcom star who helmed a TV show about nothing, is coming to Cincinnati to perform his signature stand-up at the Aronoff for one night only, drawing on his uncanny ability to find sharp humor in ordinary observations. Feel free to break out your urban sombrero and/or puffy pirate shirt. Due to demand, Seinfeld will be performing two back-to-back sets. 7 and 9:30 p.m. Friday. $49-$150. Aronoff Center, 650 Walnut St., Downtown, cincinnatiarts.org.

Bike Night
Photo: Provided

Adventure is out there, and it turns out it’s closer than you’d think. GOODS on Main, a thematic retail store currently serving up “Adventure,” is calling all bike-curious folks to come together on Final Friday and celebrate everything that runs on two wheels. Whether it’s bikes, mopeds, scooters, café racers or cruisers, GOODS digs it just as much as you do. Bites from Tiger Dumpling Co. and local beer will be provided, as well as T-shirts created exclusively for Bike Night. 5-10 p.m. Friday. Free. 1300 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, facebook.com/goodsonmain.

Shakespeare in the Park
Photo: Provided
Make your midsummer night a dream and experience the Bard in the great outdoors this summer as Cincinnati Shakespeare Company stages Romeo & Juliet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream throughout Tristate parks. The full-length plays shalt show at Washington Park, President’s Park, Linden Grove Cemetery and 20 others. All productions are free, beginning with Romeo & Juliet on July 31 at Seasongood Pavilion in Eden Park. Doth go — all the world’s a stage, but an actual stage is even better, especially when it’s in a park. Through Sept. 4; shows start at 7 p.m. unless otherwise noted. Free. Various locations, cincyshakes.com.

For Main Street’s Final Friday at 1305 Gallery, photographer and installation artist Molly Donnermeyer — who also runs Live(In) Gallery in Brighton — and poet/visual artist Sidney Cherie Hilley joined forces to create an exhibition entitled Likeness, in which they investigate themes related to one’s internal relationship to their external physical realities. For Main Street’s Final Friday at 1305 Gallery, photographer and installation artist Molly Donnermeyer — who also runs Live(In) Gallery in Brighton — and poet/visual artist Sidney Cherie Hilley joined forces to create an exhibition entitled Likeness, in which they investigate themes related to one’s internal relationship to their external physical realities. 6-11 p.m. Friday. Free. 1305 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, facebook.com/1305Gallery.

Fasten your seat belt — here comes the 2015-2016 theater season. Know Theatre gets bragging rights for being first out of the local theater gate with Hundred Days, a Rock & Roll show it played a significant part in developing. The Folk Rock odyssey was created by and features the husband-and-wife duo of Shaun and Abigail Bengson. It premiered at Z Space in San Francisco in February 2014.Hundred Days is the story of Sarah and Will, who fall in love only to have their time together cut tragically short by a fatal illness. Their romantic, defiant response to their fate: Compress the 60 years they had envisioned together into the 100 days they have left. Kate E. Ryan assembled the script for this powerful piece, which is an unconventional musical, Indie Rock opera and tragic romance. Read more about Hundred Days here. Hundred Days runs at Know Theatre July 24 to Aug. 22. knowtheatre.com.


Contrary to earlier reports, the Wet Hot prequel series premieres this week. Tune in to discover what Coop, Katie, Andy, Beth, Gene and the rest of the Camp Firewood crew were up to before that final day of camp depicted in the 2001 original flick. Premieres on Netflix.

Swear and Shake
Photo: via Facebook
Saturday, CityBeat is partnering with Horseshoe Casino to bring all of the Queen City’s best barbecue offerings to one place for a day of pork, beer and whiskey at the inaugural Porkopolis Pig & Whiskey Festival. Restaurants, including Eli’s, Velvet Smoke, Barrio Tequileria and Huit Craft BBQ, will be featured, along with more than 40 varieties of bourbon, scotch and whiskey, with master distillers and a whiskey chatter area for education and sampling. Grub to the sounds of live Bluegrass and Americana bands playing at the top of every hour, with local and national acts including Young Heirlooms, Magnolia Mountain and headliners Swear and Shake. Proceeds benefit the Bow Tie Foundation. 11 a.m.- 9 p.m. Saturday. Free; food and liquor prices vary. 1000 Broadway St., Pendelton, citybeat.com

The Salmon Shorts of OTR is basically a Facebook page dedicated to posting photos of people in salmon-colored shorts in Over-the-Rhine, poking a bit of fun at the preppy clientele who now visit the gentrified bars and restaurants of the urban neighborhood. Salmon shorts: good for golfing as well as drinking at Rhinegeist. Saturday’s Salmon Swim features a pub crawl to Taft’s Ale House, Washington Park Platform, Lachey’s and Neons, where those with wristbands receive drink specials and other treats, like oysters on the half shell from Anchor OTR at Neons, plus live entertainment from Cincinnati songstress Jess Lamb. Proceeds benefit the Greater Cincinnati Homeless Coalition. Obviously, you are encouraged to wear salmon shorts. 4-8 p.m. Saturday. $5 wristbands. Salmon Shorts of OTR is searchable on Facebook.

Wild About Pets Festival
Photo: Steve Ziegelmeyer
Jungle Jim’s is known by many as an amusement park for food — a well-deserved moniker — but on Saturday it will turn into an amusement park for pets during their Wild About Pets Festival. More than 20 vendors will be offering free samples and coupons for their wares, and several pet experts (like a trainer, holistic vet and groomer) will be on site to answer any questions you may have about the health and wellness of your furry friends. They’re also featuring face painting, a petting zoo, pet and people caricatures, and cat and dog toy making, in addition to dozens of animals available for adoption. Cats, dogs and birds are welcome — but maybe keep your pet Komodo dragon at home. 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday. $4; $1 children. Jungle Jim’s, 5440 Dixie Highway, Fairfield, junglejims.com/wildforpets.

Meridith Benson and Martin Roosaare in 'Giselle'
Photo: Rich Sofranko 
Aside from those who become marketable marquee stars, it’s not all that common for dancers to find a sustainable living in their art form. Or long-term romance. Or family. It’s a hard-knock life, being a dancer.  But through talent, hard work and astute planning, Meridith Benson, former Cincinnati Ballet and Joffrey Ballet of Chicago principal, and Mario de la Nuez, former Cincinnati Ballet dancer and Artistic Director of Ballet Theater of Chicago, have made a dream come true. Read more about the couple here. De la Dance Company celebrates its 10th anniversary with an open house Saturday at de la Arts Place. More info: deladancecompany.org; delaartsplace.com. 

Sometimes the cure to the summertime blues is, well, more Blues. The Lebanon Blues Festival has just the thing, offering a free event with eight Blues bands, food, a car and motorcycle show, and a deluxe beer garden at their historic downtown location. After listening to some slow-burning Blues from bands like Brown Street Breakdown and Donahoe, Sowders & Cole, you can speed it up with the Red Hot Blues Run, a 5k, 10k and 15k for kids and adults. The run isn’t free, but proceeds will go toward the city’s parks. 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Saturday. Free. Downtown Lebanon, lebanonbluesfestival.org.

Rich Robinson
Photo: Alysse Gafjken
Rich Robinson formed The Black Crowes when he was 17 with his older brother Chris, launching a group that would become a foundational band of “modern Classic Rock” radio (listen to almost any Classic Rock outlet for an hour and you will most definitely hear a Crowes song). Though the band has broken up before, Robinson announced at the start of this year that the Crowes were done for good (later statements by his longtime bandmates confirmed the assertion). But the guitarist/songwriter isn’t done with music — in 2014, he released his third solo album, the widely acclaimed The Ceaseless Sight. The album has the same rootsy swagger as some of the Crowes’ best work (and is indicative of how integral Rich was to the band’s sound), but it also showcases the artist’s lesser-known talents as a solid singer and strong lyricist. Robinson has toured previously with a full-on backing band, but his visit to our area this weekend is a part of his “(mostly) acoustic” tour. The show will be just Robinson and one of a handful of vintage guitars he’s bringing with him, performing songs from his three solo releases, as well as a few covers — maybe some Bob Dylan and definitely some vintage Folk Blues. 9 p.m. Saturday. $15; $20 day of show. Southgate House Revival (Sanctuary), 111 E. Sixth St., Newport, Ky., southgatehouse.com. 

Global Water Dances
Photo: Provided
A safe, clean, accessible and sustainable water supply is essential for communities around the world. Global Water Dances-Cincinnati showcases the vision and choreography of legendary Fanchon Shur, an Ohio Governor's Woman of the Year, set to original World Beat music composed by event director Shari Lauter, MEd. Dancers and musicians pay homage to the Ohio River as a historic gateway to freedom from slavery, and Cincinnati's source of drinking water, with a call from children to safeguard water for future generations. Occurring amid rescheduled Paddlefest activities — canceled in June because of high water — the performance takes place along the Serpentine Wall, with a backdrop of hundreds of Paddlefest kayakers viewing from the river. The Paddle the Ohio River Paddle canoe and kayak race begins at 7:30 a.m. Sunday at Coney Island (last boat leaves at 9 a.m.). The race ends at Yeatman’s Cove with a finish-line festival until 1:30 p.m., which includes the Global Water Dances performance. Global Water Dances: 11 a.m. Sunday. Free. Serpentine Wall, Sawyer Point, 705 E. Pete Rose Way, Downtown, facebook.com/globalwaterdances-cincinnati, ohioriverpaddlefest.org/paddlefest.

MainStrasse Village Classic Car Show
Drive back in time to MainStrasse Village for their 13th-annual Classic Car Show. Hot Rods, customs and classics will be parked along the tree-lined streets and walkways of the village and Goebel Park, filling an already scenic route with even more of a historic view. Whether you’re a lover of cars or simply like a vintage product, pop into or check out the neighborhood’s eclectic shops, businesses, pubs, and eateries. 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday. Free. MainStrasse Village, Sixth St., Covington, Ky., mainstrasse.org.

Mike Stanley
Photo: Provided
“My parents were always really good about not censoring things,” says comedian Mike Stanley. “So I grew up watching a lot of stand-up comedy and I always knew it was something I could do.” Today he splits time between L.A. and his hometown of Detroit. “I would never get a hair transplant or plugs,” he tells an audience. “There’s always a recurring theme on all those hair-transplant commercials. As soon as those guys get new hair, they for some reason jump on a Jet Ski. Like you need hair to ride a Jet Ski. Like if you were balding and on vacation and tried to rent a Jet Ski the guy behind the counter would say, ‘No.’ ” Thursday-Sunday. $8-$14. Go Bananas, 8410 Market Place Lane, Montgomery, gobananascomedy.com.

by Nick Swartsell 07.31.2015 73 days ago
Posted In: News at 10:05 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Morning News and Stuff

3CDC announces plans for former City Gospel Mission in OTR; UC officers reports contradicted by video; get ready for the GOP swarm in Ohio

Good morning all. Here’s the news today.

The Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation has announced its plans for the site of the former City Gospel Mission in Over-the-Rhine. The non-profit social service agency, which had occupied the spot on Elm and Magnolia Streets since 1927, recently moved to a new facility in Queensgate. That move was part of the city’s Homelessness to Homes plan, which created five new shelters in places like Queensgate and Mount Auburn. Those facilities are larger and more up-to-date than the older buildings occupied by organizations like City Gospel and the Drop Inn Center, but aren’t in Over-the-Rhine and aren’t as close to downtown. City Gospel’s historic church won’t be torn down, but another, more recent building next to it will be demolished to make room for three townhomes 3CDC wants to build. The developer purchased the property from City Gospel earlier this month for $750,000.

• The city has settled a civil wrongful death lawsuit with the estate of David "Bones" Hebert. Hebert was shot and killed by Cincinnati Police Sgt. Andrew Mitchell in 2011 after officers responded to a 911 call alleging an intoxicated man was robbed by Hebert and assaulted with a pirate sword. Hebert was located sitting on a sidewalk on Chase Avenue in Northside about 10 minutes later. During subsequent questioning, officers said Hebert drew a knife and moved toward an investigating officer, causing Mitchell to believe the officer’s life was in danger. Mitchell shot Hebert twice, killing him. Initial investigations cleared Mitchell of wrongdoing, but other reviews found he acted outside of police protocol, getting too close to Hebert and not formulating a plan for engaging him. Friends of Hebert have since made efforts to clear his name, saying he was a non-violent person caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. His advocates have set up a website, friendsofbones.org, to present evidence in the case and try and clear Hebert's name.

The settlement states that it's unclear whether an open knife found at the scene was Hebert's, and that there was no sword involved in the incident. Paul Carmack, who is administrator of Hebert's estate in Cincinnati, made a statement about the settlement on social media yesterday.

"Today the Family has reached an agreement w/ the City of Cincinnati to settle the pending lawsuit in the death of Bones. In the days to come a statement will be released on behalf of the city & the estate to clarify Bones name and show that he did not attack anyone on the night in question. This statement is why this lawsuit was undertaken. Without this statement there would be no settlement. Bones wasn't the attempted cop killer he was painted as nor did he attempt suicide by cop. Bones was in the wrong place, at the wrong time, in front of the wrong people. Today's events allow Mr. & Mrs. Hebert to bury their son as the fun loving, care free spirit we all knew and love to this day."

• More information is coming out about the other officers who responded to the University of Cincinnati police shooting death of 43-year-old Samuel Dubose. Two officers who were at the scene of that shooting and made statements supporting officer Ray Tensing, who shot Dubose, have been suspended as an investigation into their statements continues. At least one of those officers, Phillip Kidd, was also involved in the 2010 taser death of a mentally ill man named Kelly Brinson. Kidd and fellow UC officer Eric Weibel, who wrote the police report about the Dubose shooting, were defendants in a wrongful death lawsuit over Brinson’s death in UC police custody. Weibel’s police report about the Dubose shooting quotes Kidd saying that officer Tensing was dragged by Dubose’s car. But body camera footage of the incident shows that Tensing was never dragged by the car before shooting Dubose. Kidd could face criminal charges for the apparently false statements.

• Tensing has pleaded not guilty a murder charge and is out on a $1 million bond. He’s also suing to get his job back. Meanwhile, the Cincinnati Enquirer has published some, uh, interesting pieces around the Dubose shooting, including a first-person article in which a reporter who never met Dubose visits his grave and another where a baseball coach from Tensing’s teenage years vouches for the officer, saying he’s “not a monster.”

• The tragic shooting of a four-year-old in Avondale seems to have sparked renewed tensions between Cincinnati Police Chief Jeffrey Blackwell and Cincinnati City Manager Harry Black. The unidentified girl was sitting outside when she was struck by a stray bullet from a drive by near Reading Road. She’s currently hospitalized in critical condition, and doctors say it’s unknown if she will survive. Black told media on the scene that he takes such incidents into account when judging the chief’s performance. As city manager, Black has hiring and firing power for the position. A spike in shootings earlier this summer and documents drafted by the city detailing the chief’s potential exit created speculation that Blackwell might be forced out of his position. Black said last night that while overall crime is down, he considers the level of shootings in the city unacceptable, and that he holds Blackwell accountable.

"It's ridiculous and it's not acceptable and it will not be allowed to continue," he said. "I told the chief tonight we are going after them. That is my expectation and that is how I'm going to be how I evaluate his effectiveness as chief."

• In a final push, marijuana legalization effort ResponsibleOhio made its extended deadline to turn in extra signatures for a petition drive to get a state constitutional amendment making weed legal on the November ballot. The group, which missed the required 300,000 signatures last time around by about 30,000, turned in another 95,000 to the state yesterday at the buzzer. The state will now review those signatures, and if enough are valid, the measure will go before voters. ResponsibleOhio proposes legalizing marijuana and creating 10 commercial grow sites owned by the group’s investors. Small amounts of private cultivation would also be allowed under the amendment.

• Finally, prepare thyself for the swarm: As this New York Times piece details, the Republican Party is focusing in on Ohio in a big way. Next week is the first GOP 2016 presidential primary debate in Cleveland, and the party is hoping to use the event to stoke its base in a big way. And that’s just the start. Expect activists, political operatives, and many, many people in red bowties and blue blazers (sorry to my Republican friends. But you really do look dashing in the Tucker Carlson getup) descending upon the heart of it all. Can’t wait for that. One brilliant thing someone has done: a number of billboards around the debate venue in Cleveland will carry messages about unarmed black citizens killed by police, including 12-year-old Tamir Rice, who was shot by police while playing with a toy pistol in a park.

That's it for me. Get out and check out that big full moon tonight, and for the love of god, have a good weekend my friends. Find something thrilling. Hang out with folks you love. It's been an intense week.

by Rick Pender 07.31.2015 73 days ago
Posted In: Theater at 09:07 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
stage door 7-31 - hundred days at know theatre - id - abigail bengson -  photo by daniel r. winters (1)

Stage Door

Make ’em Laugh: Midsummer Theater

On Wednesday evening I took a bunch of kids (four elementary-school-age nieces and a nephew in town for a visit) to see a bunch of kids (high schoolers, average age 16) in Hairspray, this summers’ Cincinnati Young People’s Theatre production at the Covedale Center. The verdict: “We loved it.” One of them said, “They did more singing than talking.” (A good thing, in her opinion.) And one even got the message of black and white teens breaking color barriers and just being teens. So the story from 1962 still makes some sense. The CYPT performers come from 33 schools across Greater Cincinnati. It’s a big undertaking to get that so many performers (I counted 70 in the program) working together, plus several more backstage. Tim Perrino has been doing this for 34 years, so he knows how to get the best out of teen performers, and there are some standouts in this cast — especially Julie Deye and Gabe Schenker as the ebullient but fair-minded plus-sized teen and her lumpy mom. The kids are all right! Performances continue through Sunday at 7:30 p.m. Tickets: 513-241-6550

The most dazzling show onstage right now is Hundred Days, a Folk Rock Opera, at Know Theatre. It’s 75 minutes of great music written and performed by the dynamic duo of Abigail and Shaun Bengson, backed by five talented musicians and singers. But it’s also a fine piece of theater — a love affair cut short by a fatal illness that’s met head-on with clarity and joy to celebrate what might have been 60 wonderful years in just “100 days.” Great concept, great execution. I gave it a Critic’s Pick in my CityBeat review.

You’ll get a lot of laughs out of Cincinnati Shakespeare’s performance of The Complete History of America (Abridged), largely thanks to the comic talents of actors Justin McCombs, Miranda McGee and Geoffrey Barnes. Even if the script  — by the comic trio who originated The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) — strains a little too hard to be hilarious, playing fast and loose with America’s past, these three know how to turn every scene into a good laugh. Things occasionally fall flat and a few elements are borderline tasteless, but before you know it they’re off and running again with another gag, joke, pratfall, misunderstanding or just tossing a bucket of water. All in good fun; it’s not very profound nor is it intended to be. Here’s my CityBeat review. Through Aug. 15. Tickets: 513-381-2273

If you like your Shakespeare a bit more traditional — but perhaps just a little funny — some of Cincy Shakes' troupe begins their FREE Shakespeare in the Park tour this weekend. Throughout August they’ll be offering performances in parks across Greater Cincinnati and beyond using a handful of young actors handling multiple roles in two-hour reductions of plays by Shakespeare. This weekend you have three chances to see A Midsummer Night’s Dream — at Eden Park’s Seasongood Pavilion on Friday at 7 p.m., at the Harry Whiting Brown Lawn in Glendale on Saturday at 7 p.m. and in Washington Park on Sunday at 6 p.m.

If you haven’t tuned in yet for the third iteration of Serials! at Know Theatre, you might want to show up on Monday evening at 7:30 p.m. Each of five plays will have the third of five 15-minute installments; the trick this time out is that the playwrights trade places with each biweekly event, so stories definitely veer off in unexpected and unplanned directions. Don’t worry about catching up — there’s a quick preview as each piece starts. But even more, these are just zany stories, made all the zanier by the format. You’ll have fun watching even if you can’t quite figure out what’s going on. Tickets: 513-300-5669

Rick Pender’s STAGE DOOR blog appears here every Friday. Find more theater reviews and feature stories here.