All this talk of cocktails and distilleries got you thirsty? The Cincinnati International Wine Festival kicks off tonight with winery dinners at various Cincinnati area restaurants. Winemakers from around the world are in town tonight, paired with chefs at the area's best restaurants to create amazing wine and meal pairings. Many of tonight's events are sold out but tickets are still available for dinners at Bouquet (pairs with Aurelio Cabestrero from Grapes of Spain), Embers (with Trichero Family Estates), Jag's (with Tom Clare from Longboard Vineyards) and a few more. Check out their site for more details. The actual festival at Duke Energy Convention Center begins tomorrow, with grand tastings Friday eventing, Saturday afternoon and Saturday evening. Find ticket information and a full schedule of events here.
Covington's Carnegie Center hosts Juliard-trained pianist and Harvard-trained psychiatrist Dr. Richard Kogan this evening. Kogan has studied Beethoven extensively and focuses on the relationship between the composer's mind, motivations and music in his performances. Stimulating the left and right sides of the brain, Kogan's performances are "eloquent, compelling and exquisite," says the New York Times. The 7:30 p.m. performance is $25, $19 for Carnegie members. Find details here.
The Civic Garden Center hosts many gardening and eco-friendly classes throughout the year. Tonight is the first installment of a three-part Master Composter Series. Participants who take all three classes in addition to completing 15 hours of community service will be certified as Master Composters. The entire series is free. Tonight's 6-8:30 p.m. class is Composting 101, instructed by Master Composter, Master Gardener and Founder of the American Compost Society, John Duke. Learn about how composting works, different systems to use, how to start and analyze your pile and more. Go online or call 513-221-0982 ext. 18 to reserve your spot.
Over in Clifton Heights, Baba Budan's hosts a night of open-minded, pride-filled fun. From 7-9 p.m., UC Alliance presents Open-Minded Mic, where all are welcome to play a song, perform in drag, recite poetry, do some stand-up – express yourself openly to a welcoming crowd! Afterward, Alternative to the Alternative Night takes over. Tonight's theme is Under Construction, fitting as Baba's is still remodeling after a car crashed through the entrance early Feb. 20. Come in your best construction gear, dressing in red if you're taken, yellow if you're dating or green if you're totally single and ready to go. There will be drink specials all night long. Find details here.
Occupy Cincinnati is hosting a primary watch party at C & D Northside from 8-11 p.m. Check out the night's results while enjoying a stiff drink — the group's Facebook invite suggests ordering a "Santorum" (though something tells me I might have to pass). Occupy has some tips for voting against corporate parties; check those out here.
And speaking of the man who turned "Santorum" into a dirty word, a bit further south down I-75 Dan Savage is speaking at the University of Kentucky. Savage is touring as a part of the It Gets Better lecture series, the movement created by Savage to give hope to LGBTQ kids who face bullying, and fight hatred and intolerance against them. Savage will give a presentation and sign books beginning at 7 p.m. in Memorial Hall on the UK campus. If you can make the trip, it's a great opportunity to meet Savage and become involved in It Gets Better — tickets are free to all attendees (just have a local direct you to the Student Center Ticket Office to pick up passes).
Investigative reporter, film producer and Cleveland-native James Renner debuts his first novel tonight at Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Rookwood Commons. The Man From Primrose Lane is a "mind-bending and genre-twisting" story about the murder of an elderly man in Akron. Renner will read from and sign the novel at 7 p.m. The event is free (the book is $26).
Do you love the true storytelling style of This American Life and live groups like The Moth and Cincinnati's True Theater? Head down to Below Zero Lounge tonight for Teilen (German for "to share"), a local storytelling night. In honor of Leap Day, tonight's theme will be "leaping out." Enjoy a variety of true stories told without notes, and feel free to share your own five-minute anecdote. Storytelling is one of the oldest human traditions and it's still a great way to connect with others. Doors open at 6 p.m.; the free event starts at 7. Find details here.
Sexy Time Live Band Karaoke continues its weekly mission to make us all feel like Rock Stars. Become a frontman (or woman!), if only for three minutes. Karaoke kicks off at 9 p.m. in Northside Tavern's back room. Check out the group's Facebook page for details and an extensive song selection (start rehearsing now!).
20th Century Cincinnati is a vintage-modern (is that an oxymoron?) collector's dream. The 18th annual event brings 60 furniture and decor dealers to the Sharonville Convention Center with all kinds of goodies from the 1920s-1980s. Tickets are just $7 for the weekend, with the sale open 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Find details here.
Do you think there's ever been a February Final Friday as mild as this one? Surely not. Hop around the galleries, restaurants and bars in Over-the-Rhine and make the most of this odd weather!
OK, so M.I.A.'s video for "Bad Girls" came out a couple weeks ago, and despite looping it for hours on end since then, I cannot get enough of it. It's one of those tunes that makes me want to dance in public even without a (few) cocktails in my system. With a penchant for controversy, the video (filmed in Morocco) depicts what seem to be Middle Eastern women in traditional-yet-pimped-out garb racing cars in the desert and dancing to music with strong, sexual, pro-femme lyrics.
Though it’s been said that the political standpoints M.I.A. makes in her music contradict her lifestyle, or sometimes don't even make sense, the “Paper Planes” singer is the queen of juxtaposition when it comes to her videos. It's also important to note that “Bad Girls” comes during a time when women in Saudi Arabia are banned from driving. So whatever her intended/implied/confusing statements may be, this video is a pretty hot way to say “F that.”
Go here to watch her response to fans’ YouTube comments on the video.
mega-fest’s initial lineup was released last week, boasting headliners like Radiohead, Red Hot Chili Peppers,
Phish and The Beach Boys. Every year I go back and forth on my
decision to go: Can I afford the ticket plus all the cash and supplies that go
into surviving there (screw anyone who says you just need water and a sleeping
bag)? Can my poor Irish skin bear four days in the blazing sun? What if next
year’s lineup is even better? I still haven’t quite decided, but 2012’s lineup
looks good to me for less-than-obvious reasons.
Ben Folds Five — As in, the original trio reuniting. One of my all time favorite bands. I’d die.
The Roots — I’ve been a fan of the crew since I first heard “The Seed (2.0)” when I was in eighth grade. And their day job as house band for Late Night with Jimmy Fallon has only solidified my love.
Ludacris — Not ashamed.
Of course there’s also this year’s #whoarethey Grammy winners, Bon Iver, Donald Glover’s alter-ego Childish Gambino, The Shins, jam band supreme Umphrey’s McGee and dozens more. Aziz Ansari (Parks and Rec, Funny People) is even confirmed to perform, though the rest of the comedy lineup is yet to be announced. It turns out most people go to ‘roo for music, but I will nerdily admit as a comedy fangirl, the stand-up tent was one of my favorite (and most air-conditioned) experiences during my trip to the fest in 2010. Ansari also appeared that year and Conan O’Brien, fresh off his firing from NBC, headlined.
A friend on Facebook recently posted a link to Hi-Fructose Magazine’s blog, a page covered in creepy-cute taxidermy art. Netherlands-based art partners (artners?) Les Deux Garçons create whimsical pieces in which real taxidermied animals are embellished with knick knacks, toys and lush decorative ribbons. If that weren’t enough, many the animals are dual-headed conjoined mammals, or are transformed into unicorn-esque creatures with crazy horns. These (ethically-obtained) animals are transformed into their own art form that carefully walks the line between beautiful and grotesque. Observe:
The media queen came to town Feb. 22 to speak as a part of the SmartTalk ConnectedConversations series, and boy, do I have a crush on her. She spoke (in a sexy Greek accent, BTW) on becoming fearless in love, work and life, providing many hilarious and interesting personal anecdotes along the way. Advice she gave included getting more sleep, turning off that negative voice, or “obnoxious roommate” in our heads and the importance of finding a “tribe” of friends we can all relate to and depend on. Fun Fact: She launched The Huffington Post in her fifties, thanks to help of a $100,000 loan from her tribe-mate Laurie David (former wife of Seinfeld/Curb Your Enthusiasm’s Larry David). Pretty inspirational. She ended the evening answering audience questions with Channel 12’s Cammy Dierking, who clearly also has a bit of a girl-crush on Huffington, and who nearly made me wet myself when she used the phrase “That’d go over like a turd in a punch bowl.” It was truly a fun femme-fest.
Sleigh Bells on SNL
Despite my undying love for Saturday Night Live, even I can’t deny the amount of lackluster musical performances on the show. Granted, it is one of the few “really live” shows left, details often aren’t finalized until the last minute, sound is often off and the tiny stage isn’t ideal, but who could forget Ashlee Simpson’s career-killing disaster on the show? This year, it’s all about hating on Indie songstress/mannequin Lana Del Rey’s performance. Personally, I don’t think the performance warranted such a backlash, but judge both for yourself. And check out SNL’s hilarious response to Lana-gate (with Kristen Wigg as LDR) here.
Noise Pop duo (now touring with a third musician) Sleigh Bells killed it on last week’s episode. I wasn’t expecting
the live TV format to do them justice, but they sounded great and were
entertaining despite a nearly naked stage.
Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill this week became The Banks’ newest tenant, opening its red, white and blue doors and offering “family friendly” lunch and dinner, ongoing live performances and a guitar-shaped bar where patrons can drink beer out of Mason jars.
The official website says its family friendliness makes it “the perfect spot for everyone,” though it is assumed to have instituted some kind of protocol for children who accidentally view one of the “Whiskey Girls” the restaurant prides itself on offering (“Don’t close your eyes, Billy! It’s just the American way!”).
currently aren’t many online reviews of the restaurant, but at least one proud American has braved the giant, Country music-themed
complex and come away with an experience worth mentioning on
Metromix’s online listing.
User “couintrymusiccincy” (sic) was
disappointed by his experience, describing a waitress that had a bad
attitude and thought she was so cute she should be Miss Universe.
“Couintrymusiccincy” advised the restaurant to fire her, and
noted that he would return if managers hire “pretty and legitimate
waitresses” like the Las Vegas and Tulsa, Ok., locations do.
In addition to the Whiskey Girls, who apparently are allegedly “more worried about their reflection than about getting an order right” (classic Couintrymusiccincy complaint), the bar/grill/stage/conference plaza offers American and Southern cuisine such as friend bologna sandwiches and pan-fried ribs. Burger names include the “American Soldier” (Toby’s classic burger with cheese), “She’s a Hottie Burger” (melted pepperjack cheese, Hatch Valley Chiles and crispy onion straws) and “Should’ve Been a Cowboy” (Bacon, cheddar and Toby’s BBQ sauce topped with crispy onion rings). Dessert offerings include deep-fried Twinkies, “All American Apple Pie” and "Saddam's Head Pudding" (just kidding).
The décor relies heavily on a “Country cliché” aesthetic to ensure that guests don’t forget they’re in a bar owned by the guy whose artistic response to the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2011 was to write a song titled “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American),” which called upon the wrath of Uncle Sam, a personified Statue of Liberty and an eagle (flying, of course) to serve justice to goddam terrorists across the globe. The chorus is enough to make even the most cowardly among us raise a Mason jar in defiance.
“Ohhh Justice will be served, and the battle will rage/This big dog will fight, when you rattle his cage/And you'll be sorry that you messed with the U.S. of A./'Cause we'll put a boot in your ass, it's the American Way.”
It’s enough to bring a tear to one’s eye and cause a man to mistake his fellow American brother with one of the Whiskey Girls and tie on a big, patriotic hug (“Sorry man, I ain’t gay I just love this song and my country and when Middle Eastern people get killed." *Sniffs*).
For those interested in more information or to see the many other creative names TKILB&G has come up with for typical bar food, the official website is www.countrybaroh.com. For scary homemade videos set to “Angry American” just search YouTube.
Was your Valentine's Day lacking in the passion department? You'll have a chance to get hot and heavy — in public — this March during the First National Make-Out Session on Fountain Square.
Dayton, Ky., native Shawn Blagg has organized this smooch fest in hope to counter-balance the daily negativity many experience in the news, politics and day-to-day life. He explains in an email, "There is a lot of anger and hatred being put out there right now. I wanted to do something that can draw people together, if at least for one day. Valentine's Day, Sweetest Day, Christmas — All of the day's we've set aside for love have become nothing more than shopping events. This is about love, pure and simple."
Blagg encourages all lovebirds across the country to kiss in public on March 22, but has designated Fountain Square as a local meeting place for those wanting to create a bigger scene, or even as a spot to find a potential make-out partner. The kiss-a-thon is set to take place from 9 a.m.-noon that Thursday. DJs will be on the Square to provide some mood music and vendor space is still available. Anyone wanting to be a vendor, volunteer or participant can contact Blagg at email@example.com.
So if you're feelin' frisky, grab the one you love and show the world your best smooch! And since kissing can burn 2-5 calories per minute, an hours-long make-out sesh totally counts as your daily workout! For more info, check out the event on Facebook. Get your PDA on!
NST's back room will transform into a runway where you'll watch some local hottie patotties strut their stuff with hair designs by Northside Chop Shop. Kenneth Wright will DJ the show and ongoing dance party.
Spot someone with the best moves you've ever seen? Send them a message via the valentine post office, and pose for pictures in a fabulous Flashbox photo booth. It all starts at 9 p.m., with the fashion show at 10 p.m.
Get a peek at Chicken's fashion in Bad Veins' new video for "Dancing on TV." Some of the ensembles in the Soul Train-esque shots were provided by the boutique!
Unfortunately, it seems like not all people in this world share the same passion for dogs that I do. Hundreds upon thousands of dogs are abandoned each year and end up either dead or in shelters, and many more suffer at the hands of neglectful or abusive owners. Fortunately, we have organizations such as the SPCA around to speak out and help these animals. However, it’s recently come to my attention that not all shelters treat certain breeds of dogs the same.