Hey all. I made the treacherous arctic trek into the CityBeat office this morning just to bring you the morning news. It’s a bit of a slow day, probably because all the newsmakers and shakers in the world are hunkered down doing whatever it is powerful people do on their snow days. I picture them sitting in front of a several fireplaces smoking multiple cigars while watching a whole wall of big-screen TVs and double-fisting mimosas, mostly because that’s what I would do if I had money and power. Anyway, here are a few things happening around the city and beyond today.
Let’s start off with grilled cheese. Cincinnati-based Tom and Chee restaurants just signed a franchise deal for its first location in Nashville. The brand has also planned other expansions in Tennessee as well as Texas, Nebraska, Missouri and other states. The rapidly growing chain started just five years ago and got a boost from a 2013 appearance on the ABC investment show Sharktank. It has since expanded to 22 locations, with plans to have 50 open by the end of this year. The brand has received more than 25,000 franchise requests from around the world since its appearance on the show.
• A former Northern Kentucky University employee who is currently serving jail time for embezzling money from the school was also the subject of an earlier sexual harassment complaint and court settlement, the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. The university settled with former associate athletic director Chrissy Soards for $200,000 in 2013 after Soards complained that her boss, Scott Eaton, had sexually harassed her. Eaton was soon after fired for other ethics violations, including inappropriate sexual relationships with coworkers and an adult NKU student. After his dismissal, NKU discovered he had embezzled some $300,000 from the school, a crime for which he is currently serving 10 years in prison.
• Here’s more evidence former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland could jump into the 2016 U.S. Senate race against Sen. Rob Portman. In an interview with the Enquirer yesterday, Strickland said he’s “evaluating whether or not I am the person who is best positioned to do this and to win. I think I am, but I’m taking this very seriously.” That sounds pretty affirmative to me. Should he chose to run, Strickland’s candidacy could spell a major challenge for Democrat Senate hopeful and current Cincinnati City Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld. Sittenfeld announced his candidacy a few weeks ago and has already begun fundraising. But he’ll have a challenge on his hands if one of the state’s best-known Democrats jumps into the race.
• Hey, this is terrifying. A CSX train full of oil from North Dakota derailed in West Virginia yesterday evening, causing the evacuation of two nearby towns and setting cars and a house afire. The oil was en route to coastal Virginia. No one was injured in the accident, but it’s the second oil related accident in this year. The other took place just 200 miles away in Virginia, where another train derailed and caught fire. Another accident involving a train carrying oil also happened last week in Canada when a train derailed and caught fire in Northern Ontario. The accidents and others like them have focused new questions on oil rail shipping safety standards.
• Yesterday, I told you about the budget hubbub currently going on between Republicans in the House and Democrats. The GOP Is steamed about President Barack Obama’s executive order halting deportations for up to 5 million undocumented immigrants. They’re so steamed that they’ve passed a bill that makes funding for the Department of Homeland Security contingent on eliminating Obama’s orders.
Anyway, that’s yesterday. Obama’s executive orders prohibiting deportations are currently under attack from another source as well. A federal judge in Texas has put a stay on the actions, saying halting deportations could cause irreparable harm to states on the border, including Texas. The decision is in response to complaints from a group of conservative, mostly Southern states who say the executive action constitutes an overreach of power by Obama. They say halting deportations will result in more law enforcement expenses and other burdens associated with processing applications for deferred deportation. How not deporting people is more expensive than the millions we spend rounding up, holding and shipping people back across the border I don’t’ know, but that’s the logic the states are arguing.
Good morning Cincy. Remember last weekend when the high was 59 degrees? No, no, I don’t either. Let’s just not talk about the fact that winter is apparently going to last forever and get on with the news, shall we?
A major Cincinnati fundraiser for the Democratic Party has put his backing behind current City Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld in his run for the U.S. Senate. Cincinnati businessman Allan Berliant raised as much as $500,000 for President Barack Obama’s reelection campaign in 2012 through his network of donors both here in Cincinnati and around the country. He expects many of those donors could chip in for Sittenfeld in his upcoming race.
"I have been very pleased almost to the point of being surprised at the breadth, width and depth and passion of support, both politically and financially, that I've seen here in the last three weeks,” Berliant told the Cincinnati Business Courier about Sittenfeld’s campaign. “I'm a fairly seasoned political fundraiser. I will tell you there is a lot of excitement surrounding this campaign and that is off to a great start."
The 30-year-old councilman has a big task ahead, as Democratic favorite and former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland has made noises about entering the race for the seat. And should Sittenfeld best Strickland and the other experienced Democrats eying the seat, he’ll have to take on sitting Sen. Rob Portman, who has already raised $6 million ahead of the election. Sources say Sittenfeld has raised about $500,000 since he announced his campaign a few weeks ago.
• Officials with Columbus-based Kokosing construction company apologized Friday for the fatal collapse of the Hopple Street off ramp last month. The collapse, which investigators believe was at least in part caused by last-minute changes to demolition plans, killed construction foreman Brandon Carl. Officials with the company have said a review shows key details missing from the plans, including stipulations about how to remove the road surface on the ramp.
"I am very sorry, and all of us are deeply troubled by these findings," CEO Brian Burgett said in a statement about the accident. The company will institute new safety policies as a result of the accident, having an independent engineering firm produce plans for bridge demolitions along with Kokosing’s in-house engineers. Demolition won’t proceed unless both plans match.
• So this is cool: A proposed tribute to Crosley Field, the Cincinnati Reds’ former home in Queensgate, is making headway. Designs have been drawn up for replica foul poles, a mural depicting the field near where it stood at Findlay Street and Western Avenue, a pocket park with information about the Crosley and other historical features. Crosley was the home of the Reds from 1912 to 1970, when the team moved to Riverfront Stadium. It was demolished in 1972. Boosters are aiming to have the tribute done in time for the 2015 MLB All Star game, which will take place in Cincinnati July 14.
• House Speaker John Boehner and other GOP members of the House are playing budget hardball again, this time over immigration. Republicans are risking shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security over several executive orders President Barack Obama has issued over the past two years. Boehner has signaled he won’t back down on a bill the House passed to keep the Department of Homeland Security funded for the next year. The department’s current funding ends Feb. 27. The GOP funding bill rolls back Obama’s 2012 and 2014 executive orders that have kept the federal government from deporting millions of undocumented immigrants. The GOP bill stands no chance with Democrats in the Senate and President Barack Obama has threatened to veto it, putting the Department of Homeland Security’s funding in a precarious position. Boehner says the House has done its job and passed a bill to fund the department and that it’s up to Senate Democrats and the president to follow through. Democrats, on the other hand, are saying that the bill is an obvious no-go and that far-right members of the House are once again playing political brinksmanship.
• Low-earning salaried positions could become eligible for overtime pay if a plan by the Obama administration comes to fruition. Under current rules, companies can declare some low-paid workers making as little as $23,600 “exempt" employees, meaning they’re not eligible for overtime. Labor advocates say that arrangement allows employers to take advantage of workers by forcing them to work long hours with no extra compensation, eroding the traditional 40 hour work week. The Department of Labor has discussed a plan would raise the floor for those who can be considered exempt to somewhere between $42,000 and $52,000 a year. Anyone under that salary range would have to be paid overtime if they work more than 40 hours a week. Liberal think tank Economic Policy Institute says the increase could affect between 3 and 6 million workers in the U.S. The Department of Labor is expected to roll out its proposal sometime in February or March.
Part two of Hollywood Week aired Wednesday and Thursday, picking up right where we left off — with group performances, specifically Alexis D. and her case of the vapors. She got her shit together enough to perform with her group and ended up advancing with Jax. The others, including Sal, were sent home. I guess American Idol my call to investigate his real age. Sorry, Sal!
Another group performed a slowed-down version of O.G. A.I. Kelly Clarkson's "Since You Been Gone."
We saw Hollywood Anderson spittin’ game on a bunch of ladies, including Jess Lamb. He made it through to the next round.
There was a quick look at Alexis Gomez and her group — they all advanced.
Then we finally got to see a performance by Jess — the first time since her amazing audition in Kansas City. Her group put a funky twist on the earworm “All About That Bass” and got even more love from Harry Connick Jr.
They killed it! It was honestly one of the most cohesive and entertaining performances of the round. But only Jess and Lovey made it through; the rest of the group was sent home.
My dreams were crushed when Garrett fell flat on his song and was eliminated.
The night ended with a badass all-girl cover of Queen;s “Somebody to Love,” where we learned it’s OK to forget the words to a song if you can incorporate a joke about it within said song.
With all the groups finished, solo performances began on Thursday’s episode. The judges began to cut approximately 80 contestants down to the 48 that will have to perform in front of a live audience at the House of Blues in next week’s episodes — that’s how the final top 24 will be determined. No feedback was given immediately following each performance; instead,
Loren set the bar high with her rendition of “Skyfall.” I know it’s not Jess, but she game me goosebumps, so you need to watch it.
Fifteen-year-old Daniel is also crazy good. His singing voice is about 4 years ahead of his speaking voice, so that works for him.
Big Ron made a big fool of himself talking shit on the music director before, during and after his performance. Obviously, he was sent home. Loren and Baby Daniel advanced, along with Shi (the girl with "the look"), Quentin (the guy with "the look"), Maddie (another supposed “teen” that looks like a very mature soap opera actress), Trevor (the “geek” of the group), Jax (who got way too close to her parents while singing “Let It Be”) and Nick (the old man of the group).
Alexis Gomez couldn’t decide if she wanted to channel “Dirty” Xtina with white girl cornrows or young Taylor Swift with crunchy curls, so she rocked them both. She made it, so we’ve officially got some local talent in the top 48!
Unfortunately, Jess Lamb is not one of them.
They didn’t show her final solo performance but did dedicate a few clips to her as they announced some of the more prominent folks leaving the competition.
We'll miss you, Jess! Actually, we don’t have to miss her because we will be checking out her local performances. Jess is already working on new music — with fellow Idol contestant Hollywood Anderson and the one and only Bootsy Collins!
This wraps up our coverage of Jess American Idol, but we can all expect more on her in the months to come.
Move over, movie theater chains. While several films open in theaters this weekend, there’s one you won’t find at AMC or other traditional movie joints. Reaching a following across the globe, the locally made independent feature film Ctrl+Alt+Dance will have its world premiere this weekend at Memorial Hall.
When an unemployed security software specialist takes an adventure with dance, the definition of courage is surely illustrated — and that’s what audiences can expect to explore. Inspired by the Lindy Hop Movement, producer Brian Crone and producer/director Gex Williams have worked side by side on this low budget independent film that has flourished and received widespread recognition in the dance community. Filled with swing dancing, passion and an unfolding romance, it’s the perfect flick for Valentine’s Day.
Gex Williams has worked on multiple professional film projects and served as the producer and Artistic director of SAC Family Theater in Lexington, Ky. CityBeat caught up with Williams and discussed the inspiration behind the film and the experience of starting out as a small independent project.
CityBeat: Are you and Brian Crone both originally from the Cincinnati area?
Gex Williams: Yes, we both grew up in the Northern Kentucky area but we knew each other growing up. We went to high school together and made some feature films.
CB: How did your film Ctrl+Alt+Dance come about?
GW: I became an avid swing dancer in high school through college. I was aware of this film community throughout the world and no other movies catered to this kind of dance, so I was like, “Hey, I want to make a movie.” I actually wrote the initial script in 2011 but wanted to sit on it to get other projects under by belt.
CB: What was your initial inspiration for the film?
GW: In 2011 I wrote the script, sat on it, and decided to move forward with it. It has a phenomenal story and [Brian and I] reworked a ton of it in early 2013 as we wrote a fresh script together on this draft. The film had dancing, but we needed a story to carry it along. We knew we didn’t have the budget to hire a huge actor and to be solid in the entertaining experience for the audience members. And then we ended the film in summer in 2013 two years from the initial start of pre-production. It went full force in the beginning of 2014 and we’ve been cranking on it ever since. We’re really happy. With an independent film it’s very hard on a low budget and we had phenomenal team members and people.
CB: After a few offers to shoot the film across the country, why was it important for you to film it here in Cincinnati?
GW: There were a few producers who were interested in shooting it out there, but it was really important for us to shoot it in Cincinnati because we love it so much and we’ve traveled some for business and we loved going back to Cincinnati. It’s a great place to come home to and what it offers. The city holds phenomenal landmarks and has a variety of locations.
CB: What were some of your favorite spots to film?
GW: One of my favorite shots of the film was a beautiful shot at Roebling Bridge set up on the Kentucky side, and you see this beautiful river flowing underneath the city and is lit up. And we had other phenomenal locations like Memorial Hall, which is gorgeous on the inside.
CB: What are some prominent themes in Ctrl+Alt+Dance?
GW: Action overcoming fear. We really wanted to communicate that. We [Brian and I] started our own business after college, a full-time gig and there was fear in our own selves and others. We wanted to tell a story about this and the dance was a catalyst to show how that takes place in the film. It’s a great story and a really cute romance. The dancing is amazing and we encourage people to feel good about it and hopefully inspire them to take risks in doing that.
CB: I see that you had difficulty getting into large chain theaters. Tell me about your experience with that in regard to the film.
GW: I can’t fault them because it is different for an independent film to get the mass distribution that an A-list film would get because they don’t have the budget to hire famous actors like Morgan Freeman. For large theaters, it’s a risk to put their movie in there that they won’t have people to support it. It’s so cool that that we have it in countries like Russia and China and were blessed that it was quite strong. We aced that challenge and we knew we had a strong following so we wanted people to see it. So we ended up contacting theaters ourselves and said we’d like to run a campaign in your city so people buy tickets for a one-night premiere showing. A lot of theaters responded.
CB: With a following in more than 80 different countries, how did word of the film spread so quickly all before the world premiere next weekend?
GW: It’s never been showed, but Cincinnati will be the world premiere. Because the Lindy Hop Swing Movement is huge around the world in countries like Spain and London and it’s really quite astounding that a lot of them they really tuned in. Our main actors, their acting is amazing, they’re international dance champions. People were aware of them and interest grew. We worked hard and wanted this film to benefit the community all over the world and we contacted local groups and wanted the proceeds to go back to local communities. We felt so blessed by the support we received and reached a considerable percentage to help others.
CB: What were your initial expectations for the film? Did you expect it to reach the magnitude it did?
GW: We’re blessed in something that is not at all normal for a normal independent project. A lot of projects start out with a grandiose idea and get small and less feasible and it’s a reality check. It’s difficult. And we’ve been so blessed with the talented people and how it blossomed from day one. We said we’re going to do this no matter what. We had talent and it’s grown and we hope it will continue to grow.
CB: Once it started gaining success, did you get any opportunities later on from corporate theaters?
GW: We are just at the beginning of our public awareness. We’ve had interest from larger producers and we’re definitely exploring our options to get a wider distribution of it.
CB: What are your hopes for the film after the big world premiere at Memorial Hall?
GW: We’ve been working hard to deliver the film in a way for people to access. We wanted to work hard to continue to pave a way and find a way to show this film to anyone who wants to see it. We’ll be talking to distribution companies for a possibility of larger scale so we have the resources to get it out there.
Ctrl+Alt+Dance premieres Feb. 13 and 14 at Memorial Hall. More info here.
Good morning readers! I'm a day late, but let's review the Words Nobody Uses or Knows in this week's issue — which, by the way, has to be one of my favorites to date. It's The Beer Issue, if you haven't already noticed, and we did so much reporting on local beer and Beer Week festivities that we created an entirely new webpage for it. It's a great place to start if you're looking for a calendar of events, want to learn more about Cincinnati's rich brewing history or what today's local breweries are all about.
But let's get started. Two high-brow words that caught my eye are in Steven Rosen's piece on the Cincinnati Art Museum's forgotten Japanese art collection. The first is cloisonné, a French word pronounced KLOIS-ZE-NAY. (I found the actual phonetic spelling of it, klȯi-zə-ˈnā, a bit confusing.)
cloisonné: of, relating to, or being a style of enamel decoration in which the enamel is applied and fired in raised cells (as of soldered wires) on a usually metal background (n.)
Here's an example of a beauteous Chinese cloisonné incense burner, via the Google:
In the issue: "Those objects include paintings, screens, prints, ceramics, lacquer and metal wares, ivory carvings, arms and armor, cloisonné, dolls, masks, costumes and textiles."
The next word is accessioned. It looks like a word I ought to know, like an SAT word, but nope.
accession: to record the addition of (a new item) to a library, museum, or other collection (v.)
In this issue: “I didn’t even know we had a Japanese art collection because most of it had never been published or displayed or organized, and some were not even accessioned,” she says.
Tippling, another obscure word, is found in Garin Pirnia's piece on lesser-known taprooms and breweries that are brand-spanking new or slated to open in the Tristate area in the next few months.
tipple: to drink (alcoholic liquor) or engage in such drinking, especially habitually or to excess (v.)
What a great word. I should start using that all of the time and really confuse people. "Hey! I'm out tippling!"
In this issue: "Needless to say, now would not be a good time to curtail your tippling."
Moving on. Perhaps my favorite word of the entire issue is found in Worst Week Ever: hoosegow. It's bizarre and antiquated and contains no hint whatsoever of its meaning.
hoosegow: slang for jail (n.)
Fun fact: According to thefreedictionary.com, the term was born from a mixture of Spanish and English spoken in the Western part of the United States at the beginning of the 20th century. In other words, it's Old West slang.
It comes from the Spanish word juzgado, meaning "court of justice, tribunal." If that's confusing, here's an explanation:
"In many varieties of Spanish, the ending ado is usually pronounced as ao in everybody speech, with no d at all or only a very lightly articulated one. The spelling hoosegow thus is a pretty good representation of the American Spanish pronunciation of the word juzgado as it might sound to the ears of an English-speaking American, even though hoosegow looks nothing like the actual written form of juzgado."
In this issue: "Remus’s life story is a fascinating and complicated one, which culminated in him killing his wife in Eden Park for betraying him while he was in the hoosegow."
Have a great weekend, readers!
Hey Cincy! It’s Friday, and Valentine's Eve, so I’ll be brief so we can all get to our weekends quickly.
The former School for Creative and Performing Arts on Sycamore Street in Pendleton is one step closer to becoming a 148-unit luxury apartment building. The Pendleton Community Council has approved a parking plan that will create almost 200 parking spaces for the development while still preserving green space next to the building. The units will range from $700 for an efficiency to $1,500 for a two-bed, two bath apartment. Work gutting the building has already begun, and Indianapolis-based developer Core Redevelopment says they expect to be finished with the building by spring of next year. The forward motion on the building comes as big changes take place across the small neighborhood bordering downtown and Over-the-Rhine. A number of other developments are planned for the historically low-income area, which sits near the Horseshoe Casino. There has been some controversy about the shift, though groups like Over-the-Rhine Community Housing have worked to preserve affordable housing in the neighborhood.
• Are the 100,000 Medicaid recipients who might have to pay premiums for the service under a new proposal by Gov. John Kasich cool with that? Yes, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer. Well, actually, two the three folks the Enquirer quotes say they’re kind of OK with it. Actually, it sounds a bit more like, “we’ll pay it if we have to,” which is sort of an obvious conclusion to reach when the alternative is paying hundreds of dollars a month for private insurance.
“I just barely get by. I wouldn't have to give up anything, but it would be tight," 53-year-old Dawn Smith of Westwood told the paper. Smith relies on Medicaid for diabetes medication. "If I have to pay $15 to $20, I have to pay it, because I have to have my medicine to live."
The rationale, according to Kasich, is that making people pay premiums while they’re on Medicaid now will prepare them for paying premiums when they start making enough to be ineligible for the program. Kasich’s office says that will help people be more financially secure in the long term. Kasich’s proposal would charge premiums to those making above the federal poverty level, which is currently just under $12,000 for a single person. Premiums would start at about $20 a month. That’s about a 2 percent hit to someone on the high end of the low-income qualification, which doesn’t sound like a lot but could be a stretch for folks trying to make every dollar count. I did Americorps for a couple years making that amount of money and it was brutal. I didn’t have $20 a month to spare, but that’s anecdotal and not really a good way to measure the impact of a policy that will effect more than 100,000 Ohioans, right?
• More crumbling concrete: A big chunk fell off the roof of Lytle Tunnel last night and was hit by a truck, causing the left southbound lane of I-71 to close for more than an hour. Investigators are still trying to figure out what caused the concrete to fall. The incident comes as local and national conversations continue about the state of America's infrastructure, including the obsolete Brent Spence Bridge and Western Hills Viaduct here in town. No word if this incident is representative of more local infrastructure that needs better care, but file it away and we'll come back to it if so.
• The Ohio House has passed a bill that would keep students from being held back because of their results on Common Core tests this year. Some critics of the Common Core standards say they’re an intrusion by the federal government on states’ abilities to set their own educational agenda, while others decry the increased difficulty level of some of the standardized tests used to measure whether students have learned the new standards. Supporters of the standards say they are a way to ensure that all students get an education that will allow them to be competitive in the global workplace. House Bill 7, which was sponsored by Republican State Rep. Jim Buchy, keeps students this year from being held accountable for their test results as the standards are phased in. Supporters in the state House say it’s just the first in a series of efforts to change or reverse the standards. The bill will next to go the Ohio Senate. If it passes there, it would still need to be signed by Gov. John Kasich, who supports Common Core.
• Weird things are happening in Oregon. In what is one of the more fascinating political dramas to play out in the past few years, Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber is resigning. Or he isn’t. No one is really sure at the moment. Equally unclear are the governor’s whereabouts, at least publicly. Kitzhaber, a Democrat, is caught up in a blooming controversy and court case around some improper payments his fiancée may have received and attendant accusations of corruption. State Democratic Party leaders met with the governor earlier this week to encourage him to step down. He seemed to indicate he would, then said he wouldn’t, then receded from public view.
• Finally, was Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (aka the Notorious RBG) a little tipsy at this year’s State of the Union Address? Yes, she says. Just a little. Those watching the address may remember a little hubbub about Ginsburg falling asleep during President Barack Obama’s big speech. She recently said she and the other justices had enjoyed a bottle of nice wine before the event.
“The audience for the most part is awake, because they’re bobbing up and down, and we sit there, stone-faced, sober judges. But we’re not, at least I wasn’t, 100 percent sober,” Ginsburg said last night while giving a talk at George Washington University in D.C. Cheers to you, Ms. Ginsburg.
Comedian Stewart Huff: Primarily a storyteller, he now focuses on stand-up. Huff started off wanting to be a writer of short stories. He wrote in secret, but after doing an open mic he became intrigued by what that art form had to offer. “I was obsessed with the idea of telling a story on stage and getting immediate feedback,” he says. After a time, Huff decided to focus solely on stand-up. Showtimes Thursday-Sunday. $8-$14. Go Bananas, 8410 Market Place Lane, Montgomery, gobananascomedy.com.
I hope my Curtain Call column (found here) in a recent issue moves you to head to UC's College Conservatory of Music for Richard Hess's staging of Wendy Wasserstein's Pulitzer Prize winner, The Heidi Chronicles, onstage through . If you remember the 1970s and ’80s, this production will transport you back in time as you watch young feminist Heidi Holland grow up, grow weary and grow wise. Tickets: 513-556-4183.
Comedy Central’s nightly “news” lineup is amidst a total overhaul with the recent end of The Colbert Report and the addition of The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore. Stephen Colbert stepped down in December, and now The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart is following suit. The comedian shocked audiences at a Daily Show taping this week with the announcement that he’d be retiring from the show sometime later this year. While Colbert left to replace David Letterman as Late Show host (Letterman will step down in May; Colbert will take over in September), it’s unclear whether Stewart has another gig lined up, but it does sound like the show will continue with a new host. (The show originally featured Craig Kilborn before Stewart took over in 1996.)
Amy Schumer stars in a new Judd Apatow movie and, predictably, it looks hilarious.
Some previously unreleased Spice Girls songs hit the webz Wednesday, only to disappear from SoundCloud soon after. Could this be assign of another girl powa’ reunion?!
Speaking of leaks, House of Cards’ third season — which does not premiere until Feb. 27 — was available on Netflix for about 30 minutes yesterday. No, Frank Underwood was not pulling a Beyoncé by releasing a full season unannounced. It was a “mistake.”
A leak? More like the best House of Cards ad ever. Anyone who had momentarily forgotten about the upcoming season is now ready to binge the moment it premieres.
It’s been a great week in fashion for models who don’t look like hungry baby aliens, which is rare. The Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue featured two plus-size models; “World’s Oldest Supermodel,” 83-year-old Carmen Dell’Orefice appeared on the cover of New You magazine; and Jamie Brewer, who many of us know from American Horror Story, walked in a New York Fashion Week show today, becoming the first person with Down syndrome to do so. Yay beauty diversity!
And then there was The Grammys.
The night’s program kind of reminded me of the Super Bowl half-time shows of the early 2000s, where the desperate attempt to appeal to as many people as possible resulted in a mashup of lineups that simultaneously featured Nelly, Britney Spears and Aerosmith. Between Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett and Jessie J and Tom Jones, there were lots of slow songs sung by duos of old and young people, which made it very easy to watch the 603 other shows on Sunday nights (Hey, Better Call Saul!)
Sam Smith was the big winner of the night: Record of the Year, Song of the Year, Best New Artist and Best Pop Vocal Album all went to the magical songbird. Beck won Album of the Year and Best Rock Album (“Beck is still making music?” – everyone. Yes, he is. Morning Phase came out a full year ago). All those categories sound the damn same!
Of course, since Beyoncé was also nominated for Album of the Year — and a bunch of other categories she didn’t win #salty — Kanye just had to, well, Kanye Beck’s acceptance speech, and Bey and Jay Z were definitely surprised
I love Beyoncé’s subtle “No, Kanye, don’t...Someone stop him…” — which is basically the equivalent of “Somebody get a sponge!” — and Jay’s legit look of terror.
Also of course, if anyone thought Kanye was taking a jab at himself by recreating Taylorgate, he wanted to remind them of what a real asshole he is by running his mouth some more after the show. And then other people responded to Kanye’s response and now I’m writing about it. Circle of life, folks.
Sia’s “Chandelier” performance with Kristen Wiig and Maddie Ziegler totally takes the cake as my favorite performance (and you know this is a serious claim when Queen Bey is in the picture). Kristen Wiig gave a soulful choreographed performance with the Dance Moms star — who would have guessed?
Beyoncé recreated her sister’s recent wedding with her performance of “Take My Hand, Precious Lord” It was Sunday, after all. Amen!
Speaking of taking us to church, Hozier and Annie Lennox was my favorite collab of the night, performing the former’s breakout hit and “I Put a Spell on You.” Intoxicating!
Pharrell traded his Arby’s hat for an old-timey child bellhop uniform and presenting a heavy performance of “Happy”
And then it looks like Taylor Swift begged Jay Z to go to brunch with her. Awkward, especially when he finds out “brunch” is Taylor’s word for playing tea party with her cats while in pajamas. But judge for yourself.
"Brunch." "Brunch!" "BRUNCH."
See all the winners here.