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by Jac Kern 03.05.2012
Posted In: Drinking, Events, Music, Fun at 12:44 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Your Monday To Do List

Guinness, vinyl, free CAC admission and more

St. Patrick's Day is right around the corner and in preparation for this celebration of all things Irish/alcohol-related, Molly Malone's hosts a Guinness Perfect Pour Contest tonight. The competition at the Covington pub kicks off at 7 p.m. Bartenders have already signed up online, so go to cheer on the best pour-fessional. These bartenders will be judges on their "perfect" technical pint pour and a more creative pour (which can include personal flair, decorations in the beer's head, etc.) Prizes for winners include Guinness products, an iPad and iPods, and there will be more giveaways throughout the night. All proceeds from Guinness sold tonight with go to the Emerald Society Pipes & Drums. Downstairs, you'll find a different vibe with Bluegrass night. Enjoy the Monday night jam session with $2 Bulleit Bourbon. Check out Molly Malone's site for details.

Monday is Vinyl Night at Milton's Prospect Hill Tavern. Show support for local record stores and vinyl culture by bringing your collection to play. Variety is key, so go here to check the specs and see which genres could use a little more airtime. All are welcome to play records, or have one of the DJs spin it for you. The event runs from 10 p.m.-2:30 a.m.


Did you miss the jam-packed Contemporary Arts Center opening party Saturday, or perhaps you became entranced by Dan Deacon and forgot to check out the exhibits? Spectacle: The Music Video and Dasha Shishkin's I surrender, dear are both on display at the museum. Swing by after 5 p.m. for free admission. The CAC is open until 9 p.m. tonight. Find more info here.

Have you been to Bakersfield yet? The OTR taco-whiskey-tequlia joint has only been open for about a month, but is already a force to be reckoned with. If you've tried to walk in on a Saturday night, you know how difficult it can be to get a table, so visit on a weeknight like tonight for a more chill vibe. Look out for our review of Bakersfield in this week's upcoming issue. SPOILER ALERT: We loved it.

As always, check out our music blog and To Do recommendations for more ways to spend your evening.

 
 
by Jac Kern 03.02.2012
 
 
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Your Weekend To Do List: 3/2-3/4

Bockfest is upon us! The annual celebration of Cincinnati's beer brewing history kicks off tonight with the Bockfest Parade, stepping off at 6 p.m. Organizers are keeping an eye on the weather, so check back with their site and Facebook page just in case. Even if the weather gets real ugly, just stop by one of the dozen participating venues where admission is free and beer is a-flowin'. Tons of special events coincide with the fest: Tonight, Park + Vine hosts its second annual veenie roast tonight (veggie hot dogs on delicious Mayday pretzel buns), Japps will feature a dance party tonight and Saturday, a Craft Menagerie takes over Arnold's Saturday and Washington Platform has a Bockfest Brunch Sunday, to name a few. And remember, you're not just getting your drink on, you're supporting Cincinnati history!

Covington's Carnegie Center presents its sixth annual Art of Food show, opening tonight. As you might've guessed, this art exhibit is centered around all things edible. The reception features beautiful culinary creations (that you can actually eat) by everyone from BonBonnerie to La Poste, Queen City Cookies to Taste of Belgium. Admission is a little steep ($60 at the door for non-members), but you'll leave with your left brain and stomach both very satisfied. Admission after the reception is free. Get details here.

It's always exciting when a new exhibit comes to the Contemporary Arts Center, and their opening parties are always a blast. Saturday the CAC welcomes two new art shows: I surrender, dear, Dasha Shishkin's first solo museum exhibit and Spectacle: The Music Video, curated by creative collective Flux. Read more about the artists here and check out our preview of Spectacle here. Music videos as art. Super cool.

The opening reception kicks off at 8 p.m. In addition to checking out the artwork, electronic musician/wizard Dan Deacon will perform 8-9 p.m. If you haven't heard of him, here's a preview:



Following the original performance is a DJ set 'til 11 p.m. The party is free and there will be a cash bar. Get more info here.

If you didn't score tickets to tonight's sold out Black Keys show, there are plenty of other music options. Eli's BBQ on Riverside Drive hosts Downtown Country Band tonight at 10 p.m. Tickets are $12. And really, any concert that also features barbecue is probably a sure bet. The Harlequins hosts an album release show Saturday at Mayday in Northside. Peep our interview with the crew. There are tons of other live music shows this weekend. Find them all on our music blog.

This not enough for you? There are tons of other happenings this weekend. Arts? We got 'em. Theater? You bet. Foul-mouthed, inxtoicated comedians? Of course. Just check out our To Do page for all your fun-having needs.

 
 
by Hannah McCartney 03.01.2012
Posted In: Fun, Life at 01:10 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Kick off Spring in Cincinnati

Before it snows, take a preemptive strike against fickle Cincinnati weather

For better or for worse, Cincinnati is infamous for its fickle weather patterns. This week's weather has been quite the anomaly — after a 70-degree day, weather forecasters are predicting snow this weekend. It's anybody's guess what next week will hold — don't listen to the groundhog — but take some time today to get in the spirit of spring. Today is expected to stay sunny and breezy, so hop to it. Here's how to get started:

•     Take a bike ride somewhere sunny and green. Try the Loveland Bike Trail, the Little Miami Scenic Trail or Lunken Airport’s trail.

•    Go to Findlay Market and get excited about all of the other farmers’ markets you can start frequenting once spring decides to stay.
•    Pick an outdoor shopping destination. Think Main and Vine streets downtown, Hyde Park Square, Mariemont Square or Rookwood Pavilion.

•    Waterproof your camping gear so you’ll be ready for an impromptu weekend excursion to Red River Gorge, Big Bone Lick State Park, East Fork State Park, John Bryan State Park or any other nearby landmarks.

•    Check out the Banks in the works on downtown Cincinnati’s riverfront. The Smale Riverfront Park has big changes in store, including a meditative labyrinth, outdoor concert venue and a tree grove; plus, the Moerlein Lager House is already open for business. Watch its growth firsthand.

•    Treat your animals. When our heating bills survive the mild winter, something else does, too: ticks and fleas. Those pesky parasites are often killed off in severe cold or frosts, but this Cincinnati winter likely spared most of them. That means dogs and cats will likely suffer from worse problems with ticks and fleas this summer and spring. Treating them early on and consistently is your best bet to spare your pet.

•    Go drinking or dining somewhere with a patio. Arthur’s in Hyde Park has an extra-intimate outdoor patio that’s great for slightly chilly spring days. Neon’s in Over-the-Rhine has a hip outdoor courtyard complete with bocce ball, a fired-up grill and a full bar.

There are lots of other ways to get acquainted with spring in Cincinnati. What are your other annual must-do Cincinnati activities when the weather warms up?

 
 
by Jac Kern 03.01.2012
Posted In: TV/Celebrity, Music, Fun, Events, Concerts at 01:02 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Your Thursday To Do List

Doug Stanhope, Swizzle Soiree and more arts, theater and music suggestions

Comedian Doug Stanhope is performing at Go Bananas in Montgomery nightly through Sunday. Known for his sharp tongue and boozy performances, Stanhope is a comedy giant. He has released a number of comedy CDs and DVDs, toured around the globe and recently played a seriously deep character in an episode of Louie. Expect plenty of foul-mouthed fun. Tonight's show is at 8 p.m. Find details here.

Speaking of people who like to drink, tonight is our Swizzle Soiree, an annual celebration of the release of our bar guide. Head on over to PLAY downtown from 5:30-10:30 p.m. There will be free drink tickets and hors d'oeuvres from area restaurants, happy hour specials all night, music from Pop Empire and lots of giveaways — movie passes, shot glasses and two passes to Bonnaroo! Sign up to register and be present at 9 p.m. to win. It's gon' be fun. Check out the event on Facebook for more info.

The Cincinnati Opera's Opening Gala takes place April 28, with an after-party at the Duke Energy Center. In preparation for this "Late Night in Charleston," Japp's is hosting a happy hour tonight. Preview the event, and help the Opera decide which signature cocktail (by none other than Molly Wellman) to serve next month. The party runs 6-9 p.m. Go here for details.

Catie Curtis performs at the Clifton Cultural Arts Center, Yonder Mountain String Band will be at Madison Theater and Ultraviolet Hippopotamus play The Mad Frog tonight. Find live music details here.

Tonight in theater: Collapse at Know Theater, West Side Story at the Aronoff and Into the Woods at CCM. Find more recommended picks for tonight here.

Before you leave for the night, set up that DVR for Delocated, Awake, 30 Rock and more Thursday television gems. Peep our TV column for details.

 
 
by Martin Brennan 03.01.2012
Posted In: technology, Reviews, Fun at 11:20 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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The Ups and Downs of Indie Video Games

I love video games. Always have, always will. I grew up watching Mario stomp koopas, Link slay moblins and Kirby inhale enemies to copy their powers. Games will always have a special place in my heart.

As much as I like the classics and the stuff being released by the big name companies, however, recently my attention's been diverted to a select few independent companies and developers. People say these past few recent years have been some of the best times for indie developers to get into the gaming market, and, frankly, I agree with them. As of late the indie game market's really been booming, and it's no wonder why. There are some really great indie games out there to find if one knows where to look. And unlike pricey console games, many of these independently developed games can be downloaded onto your computer for as low as $20, $10 or even $5.

Given, these games might not have the newest, most-cutting edge graphics, and might be relatively simple when compared to some of the things we see Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft releasing. However, that doesn't change the fact that they are good games nonetheless. And many gamers seem to agree with me.

One shining example of an indie game that's risen from obscurity is Dokutsu Monogatari, better known by is Americanized name, Cave Story. The game was originally made as a freeware 2D platform-adventure game by independent developer Daisuke Amaya (art-name "Pixel") in 2004. He developed the game in his spare time, intending it to be a tribute to classic popular titles he had played in his youth, such as Castlevania and Metroid.

After it's initial release on the Internet, Cave Story slowly gained popularity as a indie game, and was praised by many gamers for its compelling story and gameplay. Fans of the game eventually developed an English translation, spreading the game even further.

Later on, Nicalis, an independent video game company, worked with Amaya to bring an updated version of Cave Story with new modes of gameplay and improved graphics to Nintendo's WiiWare service in 2010.

Since then the popularity of Cave Story has skyrocketed, leading Nicalis to work with Nintendo to bring yet another updated version of the game to the Nintendo 3DS under the title of Cave Story 3D.

And Cave Story is just one of the many success stories told about independently developed games these days. Several other popular titles have risen from the depths of obscurity to become commonly known titles to gamers everywhere: Minecraft, Super Meat Boy and Angry Birds just to name a few.

Unfortunately, there are also risks involved for gamers who chose to invest their money in independent games. A method many indie developers seem to be taking recently is releasing a “beta-version” of their game over platforms such as Steam for a low price, with the promise of free updates as the game is further developed. A prime example of one such game is Re-Logic's Terraria, a 2D “sandbox” game featuring exploration, crafting, resource gathering, and combat with a variety of different creatures.

Upon its initial release in January 2011, Terraria's sales boomed. Over 1 million copies of the game were sold, gamers being drawn in both by the unique style of gameplay and the prospect of future updates to the game. Head developer of the game, Andrew Spinks, made regular posts about planned features to the game in his blog, keeping the community informed about what they could expect in future updates.

Upon Terraria's version 1.1.2 update, which included new enemies, biomes, resources and a slew of new items to be discovered and crafted, popularity of the game boomed even more, resulting in the game being named as the No. 1 of 2011's Indie of the Year Player's choice.

Unfortunately for fans, Spinks suddenly decided to halt production of Terrarria, announcing in his blog on Feb. 21 that there would be no further updates to the games despite the fact that the several planned features that had been announced in his blog. Many members of Terraria's online community protested, feeling that the game had been cut down in its prime, and had yet to reach its full potential.

Sadly, however, this seems to be a route that many independent game companies take. Several indie games seem to be halted before they are considered to be “finished.” Lacking the resources that larger game companies have, independent developers either run out of money for production, or simply become burned out, no longer having the time or interest to continue working on their projects. It's disappointing for the fans who pay to play these games in the early stages of development, however, it's also a risk people take when they decide to play independent games.

Is it enough to scare people away from the indie game market? Certainly not, as there are still many gems out there to be found if one is willing to spend the time and money. Indie gaming is on the rise. And things can only get better as time goes on.

 
 
by Jac Kern 02.28.2012
Posted In: Animals, Fun, Events, Music, Northside at 01:08 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Your Wednesday To Do List

One year ago today, the home of Shannon DeBra, founder of the all-foster rescue Recycled Doggies, caught on fire. Thirteen dogs and one cat died as a result, and Recycled Doggies faced a tremendous setback. Tonight, on the tragedy's anniversary, animal lovers everywhere are invited to attend a benefit, give what you can and support the organization and all its foster families and volunteers. Head over to Star Lanes at the Levee for a silent auction, raffles, happy hour specials and, of course, plenty of bowling fun. Go here to RSVP to the event, which runs from 5:30-8:30 p.m.

CANstruction kicked off today, with teams building artistic creations made entirely out of canned goods. Stop by the Weston Gallery to see their progress and drop off canned goods of your own. All donations, and all cans used to build the artwork, will go to the Freestore Foodbank.

Crazy! Cool. No, I'm not talking about TLC's 1994 album, I'm talkin' 'bout West Side Story. The Bernstein and Sondheim hit is alive and well 55 years after its debut on Broadway. The Jets and Sharks put any Crosstown Shootout rivalries to shame, and in this revived version, audiences can expect a grittier tale with more Hispanic influence. The classic runs at the Aronoff Center through March 11. Find details here.

Every Tuesday is Writer's Night at MOTR Pub. Songwriters, poets, spoken word artists — anyone with original work is welcome to share. Sign ups open at 8:30 p.m. and $40 goes to a special winner each week. Lucas of The Dukes Are Dead hosts. Enjoy a beer, a BLT and great company.

Honey in Northside offers a $10 comfort food menu every Tuesday. Choose from homestyle favorites like fish and chips, meatloaf and mashed potatoes, chicken stew with dumplings and more. It's a great chance to try the local spot if you've never been and you're on a budget. Peep our full review of Honey here.

Check out our To Do page for tons of recommended art shows open today.

 
 
by Jac Kern 02.27.2012
Posted In: Events, Fun, Northside, Music at 02:19 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)
 
 
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Your Monday To Do List

If your Monday could use a little less desk jockeying and a few more laughs, you're in luck. PROJECTMILL returns to Mayday Northside tonight with Bombs Away! Comedy Open Mic. Whether you're a stand-up pro-in-the-making or just a fan of comedy, the free event is for everyone. Host Mack Harden will guide guests through the night (8-11:30 p.m.) and local comic Alex Stone will present a special set. If you have a few beers and start feeling witty, you can try your hand, too! Sign-ups for 5-minute sets (it's longer than you think) open at 8 p.m. Have a few laughs, a couple drinks and a signature Mayday dog. Not bad for a Monday! Get details here.

The Contemporary Arts Center is one of those few arts organizations open on Mondays (instead, Tuesday is their day off) Admission is always free after 5 on Mondays, but until Saturday, all admission is pay-what-you-can while the upcoming exhibits are installed. This is an interesting opportunity to watch as new works are brought in, play like a kid in the UnMuseum and shop in the always-fabulous gift shop. Saturday's opening party for the new exhibits will be quite a Spectacle, so look for details in this week's upcoming issue. Find ours and directions to the CAC here.

Week nights are a great opportunity to check out dining hot spots without a 2-hour wait for a seat in a packed restaurant. Joining the ranks of downtown's best new eateries is JimmyG's. Open from 5-9p.m. tonight, JimmyG's offers a sexy ambiance to accompany executive chef Jimmy Gibson's (formerly of FB's) steakhouse staples with a New American flair. Check out our full review here.

Check out Mike Breen's daily blog for tonight's live music lineup. And mark your calendars: Thursday is our annual Swizzle Soiree. Join us at PLAY for a celebration in conjunction with the release of our bar guide (on stands Wednesday). Cheers!

 
 
by Jac Kern 02.24.2012
 
 
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Your Weekend To Do List: 2/24-2/26

Radius, a local crowd-sourced short film shot at MidPoint Music Festival, Final Fridays and other area events, premieres Saturday at Memorial Hall. According to the press release, the movie follows "a man's investigation into a mysterious superhero and its effect on the community leads to a startling revelation." The red carpet event kicks off at 7:30 p.m., and guests are invited to stick around after the premiere for drinks, noshes, music by DJ Pillo and entertainment from Cincinnati BombShells, Young Professionals' Choral Collective and Pones Inc. Tickets are $25 at the door; go here for more information and a sneak peek.

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.

Born to Swap's February Swaptique Sunday is another fun shopping event this weekend. Clothing swaps are absolutely genius: just bring 5-20 fashion items in a bag and a potluck dish, and prepare to share both with a great group of women. You'll be able to get rid of shoes, clothes and accessories you no longer need, find a new-to-you ensemble and meet other eco-conscious, fabulous fashionistas like yourself. Tickets are $10 in advance ($15 if you don't have clothing to bring), $15 at the door ($20 without swapables) and leftover clothing will be donated to charity. Purchase tickets and find FAQs 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!

For even more stuff to do, peep Mike Breen's weekend music forecast, Rick Pender's weekend theater suggestions and all of our recommended arts, performances and events for the week.

 
 
by Jac Kern 02.23.2012
 
 
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I Just Can't Get Enough

Jac's favorite pop culture and Internet findings of the week

Thanks to Facebook friends with good taste, my mom's stream of animal photo chain emails and my voracious appetite for gossip and craft blogs, I'm constantly exposed to some of the greatest items from the far-reaching corners of the internet. Here's what I just can't get enough of this week.

"Bad Girls"

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.

Bonnaroo

The 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.

Taxidermy Art

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:

Arianna Huffington

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.

Thankfully, 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.


 
 
by Jac Kern 02.23.2012
Posted In: Fun, Events at 12:11 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Your Thursday To Do List

Crazy Fox beer tasting, visual art and theater shows

The Crazy Fox Saloon hosts a beer tasting tonight featuring samples from Goose Island and Shocktop breweries. There will be five varieties total, and a distributor on hand to answer any questions. If you've never been to the Newport bar, you're in for a treat — it's one of the most welcoming drinkeries around! The tasting runs 7-10 p.m. Check out the event on Facebook.

Comedian Robert Hawkins headlines tonight through Sunday at Go Bananas in Montgomery. Hawkins is a particularly keen joke writer, and was the story editor on the former Fox sitcom Titus. Tickets are only $4 tonight with a college or military I.D. Go here to read P.F. Wilson's interview with the comedian.

Ongoing visual art shows to check out today: A Retelling at Artisans Enterprise Center in Covington, Findlay Market — Heart of the City at the Cincinnati Museum Center, Contextual: An Exhibition of Image and Word at Northern Kentucky University's Main Gallery and Impressions and Improvisations: The Prints of Romare Bearden at the Taft Museum of Art, to name a few. Looking to take home a new piece of art? Brighton's semantics gallery is hosting a Last Dance/Last Chance auction to sell works from excellent local and visiting artists and raise funds for the space. Bids are welcome at the gallery 7-9 p.m. tonight, or via email until 8:30 p.m. Find artist information and auction details here.

Cincinnati Shakespeare Company takes on a new scribe, presenting Jane Austen's Sense & Sensibility  through March 18. The popular tale is brought to stage beautifully, and Rick Pender has designated it as a Critic's Pick. Read his rule review here. Weekend seats are selling fast, so tonight's showing is a great opportunity to check it out. Other shows tonight include Speaking in Tongues at Cincinnati Playhouse and Know Theatre's Collapse.

Prefer spending your Thursdays with Liz Lemon, Austin Scarlett and "Jon"? That's cool — we've got all your television needs here.

 
 

 

 

 
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