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by Brian Baker 10.14.2015 43 days ago
Posted In: Live Music, Local Music, Music News at 09:31 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
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Pomegranates Offer One More Album, Two More Shows

Cincy Indie Rock favorites return with their final album and a pair of final shows. Unless …

After a tumultuous period that included personnel change, a career lull, an identity shift and finally an unexpected and unfortunate dissolution, the members of Pomegranates clearly thought their time had come and gone. But now, in a story twist that is equally unexpected and exultantly hailed by even the most casual fan, the Cincinnati band is taking two final bows on stage at Newport’s Southgate House Revival this Saturday, and one final stab at studio redemption with the release of its fifth album, Healing Power.

Two years ago, Pomegranates played what they intended to be their last show. The quartet had toured relentlessly behind its fourth album, 2012's Heaven, and when the band finally dropped anchor, the members began work on what should have been their fifth album.

"We thought we were going to make a noisier Rock record and instead, overall, it seems pretty low key and way more chilled out," drummer Jacob Merritt says. "And it's pretty long, also, with more songs — I don't know if ‘sprawling’ is the right word."

When Pomegranates started shopping their new tunes around, they were more than a little dismayed at the lukewarm reception they received. The departure of multi-instrumentalist Curt Kiser and the arrival of the similarly-talented Pierce Geary infused the band with a fresh perspective, but the indifference to Healing Power flooded them with self-doubt. And with members Isaac Karns and Joey Cook thinking about solo projects, the quartet began to reconsider everything.

"We were a nominally successful, mid-level band and we had been for a few years," Merritt says. "We gave (Healing Power) to a bunch of labels and managers and no one seemed to care. There was this weird stigma, where people were like, 'You guys have been around so long (the band formed way back in the mid-’00s), and you get on all these great tours. Why aren't you more successful?' And no one wanted to take the jump to help us become more successful. Nothing seemed to happen, and the guys were getting tired of the slow, steady growth and the grind of being away for weeks at a time, so we were very disappointed. The lineup had changed with Pierce, and it didn't make sense to release the album as it was, and we were second-guessing ourselves because no new people in the industry seemed to be interested and we were like, ‘Maybe this isn't good.’ ”

Thinking that perhaps they needed to shake things up, with a personnel change representing a good time to implement just such a jostle, Pomegranates dropped their name and adopted the title of the new album as their new moniker.

"We wanted to call the album Healing Power but at that point, we were like, 'Let's turn a new leaf and just be Healing Power,’ ” Merritt says. "It seemed to confuse a lot of people, because we weren't doing anything differently. We were still Pomegranates, playing the same set, but there were people who were like, 'I don't know about Healing Power, I like Pomegranates.’ That was perhaps a mistake, if you want to call it that.”

Healing Power lasted for close to a year before the quartet decided to pack it in. The band's official last show came almost exactly a year ago at the request of one of its biggest fans in Virginia, who messaged the group through Facebook and asked if it would consider getting back together to play a wedding. They thought it was a nice way to go out.

"Our last show was a wedding in a bike shop," Merritt says. "We were like, 'Why not?' We just felt like it."

The reclamation of the Healing Power album began with Merritt's friend Ben Wittkugel, who had become interested in the music industry while a student at Indiana University. Knowing Pomegranates were sitting on an unreleased album, Wittkugel proposed an interesting idea.

"He wanted to start a cassette tape label to go hand-in-hand with a concert promotion company he was trying to get started," Merritt says. “He wanted to put this thing out and we were like, 'Sure. Whatever.’ ”

Wittkugel will release somewhere in the neighborhood of 100 first-edition cassette copies of Healing Power through his Winspear label, and the band has pressed up about 100 CDs — there's also a four-song vinyl EP of re-recorded tracks and one song that was dropped from the album ("I don't know why we were so adamant about not having it on the album because it may be one of the better songs …") — which will all be available at the Southgate House shows. The album and EP will then be available digitally when the limited pressings are sold out.

"Unless something that happens to people in the movies happens to us," Merritt clarifies with a laugh.

Merritt's description of Healing Power as sprawling is appropriate; the album has several propulsive moments, including the staggering, stuttering majesty of the seven minute "Hand of Death" and the tribal electric blast of "House of My Mortal Father." There is also a fairly diverse dynamic across Healing Power's 13 cuts, which careen from those spurts of high energy to atmospheric and moody Pop confections, like the gentle and aptly titled "Taking It Easy" and the melancholic reverie of "Morning Light," with the strolling bounce of the title track finding the middle ground between those stylistic ends of the spectrum. Logically, Healing Power stands as a natural progression from Heaven, which the band also thought would be louder and less constrained, and it also reveals Pomegranates' impending solo directions, as the majority of the album consists of songs that Karns and Cook brought to the band in more or less completed form.

"In the past, it was 80% Pomegranates, 20% their songs, and this time it's probably 40% Pomegranates and 60% their songs," Merritt says. “It's hard to know, because you perceive it differently than other people perceive it, because you're so close to it. In my mind, (Healing Power) seems less reverb-y and more introspective. Not that there's not a few moments that are a little more up-tempo."

Although Pomegranates splintered at the end, there's no hard feelings among the band members; they continue to work and hang together ("We've been in each other's weddings …"). Cook and Geary are working on Cook's solo project, Merritt runs the Sabbath Recording — where Karns also works, including on a recent project with Aaron Collins — and he keeps a busy schedule recording local bands like Dark Colour and The Yugos, as well as bands outside of the area.

Pomegranates' live return has generated a huge buzz, with the Southgate show selling out so quickly that the band added a second, earlier show to the slate (both of which will be opened by Keeps). That response begs the question of any possible consideration for maintaining Pomegranates as a side project going forward.

"I would say, ‘We'll see,’ ” Merritt says, diplomatically. "Obviously, we aren't opposed to things happening if and when the time arises to play a show here or there. Beyond that, I'm not really sure."

The band's two shows will be structured the same, with older catalog material comprising the first half of the set and songs from Healing Power populating the second half, which will also be distinguished by an appearance from Kiser, who will join the lineup to play the new songs.

Given the fact that these two shows could represent the last time Pomegranates play together for the foreseeable future, though they also seem to be keeping their options open, there is both very little and potentially quite a lot at stake with the release of Healing Power. Still, the band members are happy to just live in the moment and cherish the memory of the impact they've had to this point.

"I know how difficult it is for a band to find their audience and to play music for people," Merritt says, philosophically. "To know that our music has meant enough to people that, if even 30 people showed up for one show, it's like, 'Cool, you guys still care.' But when you hear stories about people who were suicidal and they heard your music and it changed their lives and they credit you as a piece of why they're still alive — those sorts of things are really awesome. There's people coming from Chicago and Virginia and Michigan and North Carolina (for the Southgate shows). It's cool. We found people that our music really resonated with."

Tickets for Pomegranates’ 9 p.m. Southgate House Revival show Saturday are sold out, but some remain for the 5:30 p.m. show here

by Nick Swartsell 10.13.2015 44 days ago
Posted In: News at 03:34 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
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Women's Clinics to Stay Open — For Now

Federal judge rules Mount Auburn Planned Parenthood and Dayton facility can continue operation during fight over state laws

The only remaining women's clinic in Cincinnati that provides abortions will stay open, for now at least.

A federal judge today issued an injunction allowing Planned Parenthood's Elizabeth Campbell Medical Center, a women's clinic that provides abortions in Mount Auburn, to stay open until next year as it fights Ohio's  abortion laws and appeals a decision by the Ohio Department of Health declining to renew its license.

Planned Parenthood is fighting a federal court case over restrictive new laws in Ohio that have pushed the clinic, and another in Dayton, to the brink of closure. A federal judge ruled that the clinics have a good chance of winning their case, and thus forbade Ohio from forcing them to close.

Today's ruling extends a temporary stay on the clinics' closure a federal judge handed down late last month. That stay was set to expire today. The clinic was denied a license last month after new rules passed in Ohio's budget legislation this summer mandated a clinic close if the Ohio Department of Health did not issue a license within 60 days of receiving an application. In the past, the Mount Auburn clinic waited more than a year to receive license renewals.

"Today, the court ruled in favor of Ohio women, ensuring access to safe and legal abortion,” said Jerry Lawson, CEO of Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio in a statement. “This sends an important message to Ohio politicians that their unconstitutional attempts to restrict access to abortion will not stand. Patient safety is our top priority. We will continue to stand up for Ohio women who rely on Planned Parenthood for the care they need.”

The clinic, and another facility called Women's Med Clinic in Dayton, found themselves facing imminent closure due to increasingly strict Ohio laws around abortion. Ohio law requires clinics to have transfer agreements with local hospitals in case patients need emergency care. But in 2013, the state passed a law forbidding state-funded hospitals from entering into those transfer agreements, ending a partnership between the Mount Auburn clinic and UC Medical Center. No private hospital in the city will enter into an agreement with an abortion clinic, but clinics who have physicians with individual admitting privileges at local hospitals can apply for a variance to the laws. The Planned Parenthood facility in Mount Auburn had been operating under a license obtained with those variances until the new laws were passed this summer.

Conservative lawmakers say the laws exist to ensure the safety of women using the clinics, though some also acknowledge they're designed to cut down the number of abortions in the the state. Ohio has gone from 14 clinics to just nine since the new, more restrictive laws are passed, and pending the results of the federal case Planned Parenthood is currently fighting against the new laws, Cincinnati and Dayton's clinics could also close. The elimination of the Mount Auburn clinic would make Cincinnati the largest metropolitan area in the country without direct access to abortion.

by Nick Swartsell 10.13.2015 44 days ago
Posted In: News at 01:49 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
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Parks Tax Fight Gets Real

A 95-year-old civil rights icon says she hung up on Cranley; local lawyer wants campaign money returned to Parks Board

As voters get nearer to weighing in on Mayor John Cranley's proposed amendment to Cincinnati's charter that would create a permanent property tax to fund the city's parks, things are getting contentious.

Supporters of Issue 22, which would raise property taxes by about $35 for a $100,000 house, say it will help Cincinnati create “world class parks,” boost neighborhoods and economic development throughout the city. But detractors say the amendment gives too much control to the mayor and will allow him to take on debt the city will be paying for years to come, money that will be used to boost for-profit ventures in the city’s public parks.

Former Cincinnati vice mayor and civil rights leader Marian Spencer today said that Mayor John Cranley had harsh words for her regarding her opposition to the proposed charter amendment.

"He said to me, angrily, 'Your face will be on the Enquirer, the front page, opposing the levy, and you're not going to like that,' " Spencer said during an appearance today on 1230 AM WDBZ. "I told him I'm 95 and nobody tells me how to vote. He didn't have anything else to say because I think I hung up."

Cranley remembers the conversation differently, though, according to a social media post by Cincinnati Enquirer reporter Carrie Blackmore Smith reported by the Cincinnati Business Courier. According to that post, Cranley says he didn't threaten Spencer, but merely told her she would be the most prominent opponent of the amendment if she came out against it.

Spencer originally supported the levy, but says once she read the full text of the amendment, she pulled her endorsement. She says she's concerned that the proposed tax increase is a permanent charter amendment, which she called "bad policy" in a letter to Parks Board Director Willie Carden last month. She also expressed consternation in that letter that the amendment language doesn't guarantee that improvements made to parks will be free of admissions charges to Cincinnati residents. Finally, she said in the missive that large changes to the city's parks should be initiated by citizens, not the mayor, and should go through the normal budget process involving City Council.

Spencer's letter isn't the only unfriendly missive in Carden's mailbox lately.

In a letter delivered to the parks director today, Cincinnati attorney Timothy Mara of anti-Issue 22 group Save Our Parks called a $200,000 contribution to a campaign boosting the parks levy “illegal” and demanded the money be taken back.

"Given the facts as we know them, it is imperative that the Park Board act today to set this matter right by first securing the return of its $200,000 campaign contribution," Mara wrote in the letter delivered this morning.

Cranley appears in the television ad funded in part with the park board's contribution, touting the charter amendment as he plays various sports including football, basketball and baseball. The ad features slick production and is running in local markets.

The two sides of the fight battled it out at a public debate hosted by The Cincinnati Enquirer Oct. 12 at The Phoenix downtown. Don Mooney, a Cincinnati attorney who has helped organize opposition to the plan, argued against the amendment, while environmentalist Brewster Rhoads presented the case for it. Cranley himself was invited to participate in the event, but declined unless he would not be on the stage at the same time as the opposition and could speak last, according to the Enquirer.

At the debate, Mooney blasted Cranley’s proposal, calling it a “slush fund” for the mayor. He pointed to the ballot language, which gives control over the money raised to the mayor and the Cincinnati Park Board. The mayor appoints the park board with council approval. Critics like Mooney have questioned why the amendment language doesn’t stipulate any requirements for Cincinnati City Council or community involvement.

That, Mooney says, primes Cincinnati for “a commercial and corporate takeover of our parks.” Mooney cites recent closures of Washington Park due to for-profit events as evidence for this, as well as a proposed public-private partnership with Western & Southern to remake Lytle Park downtown.

But Rhoads says the amendment is about boosting Cincinnati’s public parks, not selling them off. He says for-profit events like those at Washington Park are rare events that put much-needed funds in the city’s coffers for parks.

At the debate, Rhoads also pushed back against the assertion that the mayor will control the funds raised by the amendment. Ohio law requires City Council to approve any bonds issued by the city, he said, giving the elected body a say over which projects will be funded by the amendment.

Rhoads did acknowledge that the amendment’s language would be better if it had specific guidelines for community involvement, but said that the parks board does a good job with getting the community engaged.

“It’s not a perfect plan,” he said. “But we shouldn’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”

The mayor has proposed 16 projects to be funded by bonds issued with seed money from the property tax increase, though none are specifically listed in the amendment language. Among these are an effort to save and restore the former King Records site in Evanston and create a museum there; millions in funding for the Wasson Way bike path, which would cut through a number of East Side neighborhoods on its way into Uptown; and money to give large urban woods like Burnet Woods and Mount Airy Forest facelifts. All told, the price tag for those projects comes to about $80 million.

Rhoads argued that the city doesn’t have enough money to fund park maintenance currently. He and other supporters say 25 percent of the money raised by the property tax levy will go toward maintenance costs. Critics, however, point out that the language on the ballot only stipulates that the 25 percent cannot be used toward debt service for capital projects, not a requirement for it to be used for maintenance.

Mooney questioned how the city doesn’t have enough money for park maintenance when the Park Board has millions in its accounts and was able to spend $200,000 to fund the pro-Issue 22 ad featuring Cranley. Rhoads demurred on that question, saying he doesn’t speak for the Issue 22 campaign. Parks Board President Carl Budig said the donation to the campaign came from a special endowment. He defended the contribution as appropriate and legal.

Mara pushed back against that assertion, however.

"The fact that the money may originally have come from an endowment or donation to the Park Board does not mean that the $200,000 political campaign gift is legal," he wrote in the letter. "Once accepted by the Park Board, that money became 'public funds' subject to the above-described prohibition against campaign expenditures by a public entity."

by Natalie Krebs 10.13.2015 44 days ago
Posted In: News at 10:19 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Morning News and Stuff

CPS Board votes to renovate Vine Street school; still no price tag on I-71 uptown exchange; Democratic presidential hopefuls hit Las Vegas

Cincinnati Public Schools could be getting much needed additional space for pre-schoolers as soon as next school year. The CPS board voted unanimously in favor of renovating the old Vine Street school. The old school, which sits at Vine and Mulberry streets in Mount Auburn, has been empty since 2012. The building was last used to house Rothenberg and Taft elementary schools while their buildings were undergoing renovations. The proposed project will cost about $7-$8 million and go forth "when the funds are available," ideally opening next fall potentially as a pre-school, according to board member Eve Bolton. Pre-school expansion has become a priority for CPS as it turns away 1,000 kids from pre-school every year.

• A debate over Mayor John Cranley's proposed city park property tax levy between pro-levy environmentalist Brewster Rhodes and anti-levy activist Don Mooney drew a crowd of more than 200 people to The Phoenix downtown yesterday. Mooney is disturbed over the amount of control Mayor Cranley, who was not in attendance, has over the money and projects. Rhodes argued it's OK because City Council, the parks board and the mayor would share control. Rhodes later admitted the proposal wasn't perfect because it lacked public input. I was not in attendance at this event, but staff writer Nick Swartsell was, so more details on this debate will follow. 

• There is still no cost estimate from the state on the new Uptown Interstate-71 exchange. The Ohio Department of Transportation is dragging its heels on finalizing the sale price of 16 properties, and the price tag for the project won't be known until those sales are finalized. A spokesman for the DOT told the Enquirer that the real estate purchases could possibly be a contributing factor in holding up the construction, but the project should be finished by August 2017. Gov. John Kasich, who is currently schmoozing with undecided voters in New Hampshire, has pushed the project since he first took office in 2011. The Uptown area is the second-biggest area for jobs in the city, but lacks direct access from interstate 71.  

• The Red Bike program, which recently turned 1 year old, celebrated another milestone yesterday: It had its 100,000th ride. Cincinnati resident Keith Piercy unsuspectedly checked out bike that made the milestone ride Monday morning and was actually on his way to buy a bike helmet, having recently enrolled in the city-wide bike-sharing program. As someone who frequently bikes to work on bike lanes that are nearly empty, I encourage everyone to follow Piercy's example. 

• The stoners of Colorado and their fun, fruity marijuana-laced candy couldn't win over Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine. He recently returned from a trip to the state that has famously legalized recreational marijuana and reported that he met with more than a dozen people who apparently told him "you'd be crazy to bring this to Ohio." DeWine gave a press conference yesterday in which he declared, “Ohio will be fundamentally changed if Issue 3 passes." DeWine took issue with the marijuana-laced candies, which look the same as non-laced candies and could potentially be a danger to kids. Ian James, the executive director of ResponsibleOhio, the super PAC responsible for putting Issue 3 on the Nov. 3 ballot, said DeWine didn't meet with marijuana supporters in Colorado, including Gov. John Hickenlooper. 

• Well, we've all just barely recovered from the GOP presidential primary debates in time to watch the Democrats duke it out. Jim Webb, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Lincoln Chafee and Martin O'Malley will be in Las Vegas tonight to push their liberal agendas on CNN. Clinton and Sanders will likely be the most-watched contenders, as they're received the most attention for their campaigns, but it should be nice to see a few extra faces in there. The action starts at 8:30.

If you start to zone out in the middle of the debate, you can always stay focused by looking for City Councilman P.G Sittenfeld, who will be popping his head in three times during the debate in the form of television spots. The spots form a kind of narrative arc to promote his run for the U.S. Senate, where he is far behind better-known fellow Democratic contender and former Ohio governor Ted Strickland.

Send me an email or find me on Twitter. See y'all later!

by Staff 10.12.2015 45 days ago
Posted In: Leftovers at 02:25 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
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Leftovers: What We Ate This Weekend

Several of us went camping.

Each week CityBeat staffers, dining writers and the occasional intern tell you what they ate this weekend. We're not always proud — or trendy — but we definitely spend at least some money on food. 

Colleen McCroskey: Cincinnati’s love affair with Skyline is predicated upon our collective ability to ignore what it is we’re actually eating. It’s delicious, obviously, but where does that meat come from? Does it come out of a bag? Does the cheese have plastic in it, as I was told by multiple people in grade school? Probably not, and I’m still going to eat it (duh), but this weekend I was introduced to homemade Cincinnati chili in the form of The Chili Hut, a food truck that frequents hotspots around town (I tried it at City Flea). It was fantastic — it tastes exactly like what you would expect homemade Skyline to taste like, but better. You can actually taste the meat, as opposed to it basically just being a textural element in Skyline’s version, and it was really just lovely and fresh. Knowing that my three-way was covered in something homemade made my foodie heart very happy. I still love you, Skyline ... but you’ve got some competition. 

Anne Mitchell: Went on a last-minute impulse trip to Red River Gorge, and found that it was Rocktoberfest weekend. Miguel’s Pizza — climbers’ central — was crowded beyond belief, but we had a great dinner Saturday night at Red River Rockhouse. The Rockhouse is further up the road from Natural Bridge, and there are a couple reasons why it’s worth the drive: super nice staff, great food and they have beer! Oh, yeah! Since they’re outside of the dry county at the center of the Gorge area, you can have a tasty beer, a glass of wine or even a shot of Kentucky’s own bourbon with your meal. We had hiked the Skybridge trail, so I was massively hungry and had a side kale salad with my Heavenly Cheeseburger. It’s heavenly because it’s delicious, but also because the cheese comes from Heavenly Homestead Farm. Pretty much everything at the Rockhouse is locally sourced, organic, and non-gmo — and delicious.  

Jen Hoffman: I made gourmet bagel pizzas and avocado toast on a campfire!

Maija Zummo: I went to Zip's on Friday. As always, it was incredibly crowded, but we found some space in the back bar. Zip's is known for its burgers, obviously, but I don't eat meat so I have no idea what they taste like; they smell good though. I'm actually a huge fan of their veggie burger, which I'm pretty sure is just a frozen Garden burger or Boca burger, but it's topped with all the things a regular cheeseburger is topped with — mayo, cheese, lettuce, onion, pickle, tomato — so it is super satisfying in a burger-and-fries way. I also had fries and several beers. They had Southern Tier Pumking on tap. I don't drink much beer (or pumpkin-flavored things), but I love Pumpking. Also the service at the bar was great and very casual even though they were totally slammed. Sometimes, if you're a weirdo like me, it's easy to feel claustrophobic in Zip's and I appreciate chill people. I have no chill.

Casey Arnold: The only place I went out to eat this weekend was Mellow Mushroom in Hyde Park. It's the one place my family can agree on eating at with all of our different food hang-ups. So we go there all the time. I'm not mad about it.

Tony Johnson: Saturday night, at about one in the morning, I ordered Topper's Topperstix with banana peppers on them. They arrived an hour and fifteen minutes after I ordered, about twice as long as they said it would take. The driver was also apparently eating something because there was barbecue sauce all over my pizza box. 

by Natalie Krebs 10.12.2015 45 days ago
Posted In: News at 10:09 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Morning News and Stuff

Democrats endorse park tax levy; UC Health to repay millions in fraudulent Medicare claims; outside reports find Tamir Rice shooting justified

Good morning Cincinnati! Here are today's headlines. 

• City Democrats got together Saturday morning in Northside and voted 41-17 to endorse Mayor John Cranley's proposed permanent income tax levy to support the city's park system. If passed on the Nov. 3 ballot, the tax would be written into the city charter and would cost homeowners $35 for every $100,000 in home value. It would bring in an estimated $5.5 million annually and allow the mayor to propose projects to the park board, bypassing City Council, which has some concerned it could lead to the commercialization of the city's parks. Some say the money could be better spent on other citywide issues, like poverty. The Democratic precinct executives who gathered on Oct. 10 generally said that while the proposal wasn't perfect, it would be beneficial to set aside extra money to maintain the city's parks in the future. 

• Speaking of parks, today city officials are considering naming two parks after a fallen police officer and two firefighters. The city's Law and Public Safety Committee is considering renaming the East Hyde Park Commons after CPD Officer Sonny Kim, who was shot in June while on duty. The Queensgate Recreation Area would be renamed for firefighters Daryl Gordon and Oscar Armstrong III, who died in fires in March of this year and in 2003. 

The U.S. Department of Justice announced Friday that UC Health and West Chester Hospital will have to pay back $4.1 million in fraudulent Medicaid and Medicare claims. According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, Dr. Abubakar Atiq Durrani, a former surgeon at the hospital, brought in $7.125 million in Medicare payments from 2010 to 2013 when he performed medically unnecessary spinal surgeries — and botched many of them. Durrani, who is a Pakistani citizen, fled the country for Pakistan in 2013 after facing a 36-count federal indictment and hundreds of lawsuits, leaving his wife and three children in the area. The allegations against Durrani include failing to read or ignoring x-rays he ordered, falsely telling patients they were in danger of grave injury without surgery and pre-signing prescription pads for patient Oxycodone prescriptions to be later filled out by a member of his staff. 

• Kroger, the largest traditional grocer in the country, with 400 stores and 400,000 employees, has agreed to extend its health benefits to its transgendered employees. The locally based corporation is the nation's seventh largest employer. The Enquirer reported that a Kroger employee had posted the news on her Facebook page. The extended benefits will cover surgery and drugs for gender reassignment starting at the beginning of 2016. 

Two outside reports found that the Cleveland police officer who shot 12-year-old Tamir Rice last November was justified in his actions. Rice was shot in a Cleveland park by officer Timothy Loehmann after he and his partner responded to a call that a black boy was waving a gun at people in the park. Rice was fatally hit in the torso and was later found to be holding a pellet gun. The Cuyahoga County prosecutor’s office released reports last night from a retired FBI agent and a Denver prosecutor that concluded that the officer had used a reasonable use of force, as Rice was perceived as a serious threat.

Feel free to email me with story tips, questions and possible Halloween costumes at nkrebs@citybeat.com.
by Steven Rosen 10.12.2015 45 days ago
Posted In: Visual Art at 09:58 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tom Wesselmann Street Banners Offered for Sale

If you’re looking for a way to honor Cincinnati-native Pop artist Tom Wesselmann in your front yard or in your home or office, you might be interested in one of these 30-by-89-inch museum street banners from the popular Wesselmann retrospective, Beyond Pop Art, that came to Cincinnati Art Museum last year. They have just been offered for sale at betterwall.com for $499 each; there are 74 available.

Alas, the banners are not actually from the Cincinnati stop on the traveling show. They are from the previous one at the Denver Art Museum. Our art museum did not use street banners to promote the show.

The banner features a reproduction of a very lovely large painting — oil on shaped canvas — that Wesselmann created in 1967, “Seascape #22.” It is based on his observations of women sunbathing in Cape Cod. He concentrated on the foot kicking up from the beach.

Wesselmann, who died in 2004 at age 73, studied at both University of Cincinnati and the Art Academy of Cincinnati before going to the Cooper Union in New York City. He began showing his work in New York in the early 1960s and became most famous for his Great American Nude series.

Better Wall specializes in selling surplus street banners from art institutions, such as Denver, Art Institute of Chicago, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Seattle Art Museum and more.

by Staff 10.09.2015 48 days ago

Your Weekend To Do List (10/9-10/11)

Bourbon festival, barbecue festival, sauerkraut festival, pet festival and the premiere of The Walking Dead



The AYE Music & Art Festival — founded in 2006 to raise money for various charities — returns for its biggest fest yet this Friday-Sunday. Held at several venues in Over-the-Rhine, proceeds from the 2015 edition of AYE (which stands for “Adjust Your Eyes”) will go to Boys Hope Girls Hope (bhghcincinnati.org).This year’s AYE will again showcase elements of visual art, as well as comedy (in MOTR Pub’s basement each evening) and a wildly diverse lineup of music, with a heavy dose of local acts as well as some notable touring artists. The music runs the gamut from Electronic and Hip Hop to AltRock and Punk, plus most points in between. Read more about the festival in this week's Spill It. Three-day passes for AYE can be purchased through cincyticket.com for $20 or day-of-show for $35. One-day passes are $15; single shows cost a cover charge between $5-$10. For more AYE info (including the complete schedule), visit adjustyoureyes.com.

Helado Negro (Roberto Carlos Lange) presents a special multi-media show at the CAC this week.
Photo: Provided
Roberto Carlos Lange’s music, performed under the moniker Helado Negro, celebrates his Latin heritage in ways both obvious — he often sings in Spanish and there’s a breezily funky vibe to his textured electronic soundscapes — and subverting — his lyrics tend toward personal ambiguities and his song structures frequently jump off in unexpected directions.The child of Ecuadorian immigrants, Lange grew up immersed in the culture clash that was South Florida in the 1980s. He’s been writing and producing music under various guises since the late ’90s, but it wasn’t until he began recording as Helado Negro that Lange became more widely known, releasing four increasingly nuanced full-length albums since 2009. His most recent record, 2014’s Double Youth, was another satisfying refinement in his ability to create computer-generated music that is simultaneously intimate and otherworldly. Read CityBeat's interview with Lange here. Helado Negro performs Friday at the Contemporary Arts Center. Tickets/more info: contemporaryartscenter.org.

Cincinnati Craft Breweries' Oktoberfest
Photo: Listermann
The fourth-annual Cincinnati Craft Breweries’ Oktoberfest returns to the Listermann Brewing Company. Your favorite local brewers — Blank Slate, Fifty West, Christian Moerlein, Rivertown, Mt. Carmel and more — will descend on the brewery for a weekend of fall brews, food and a ceremonial keg tapping of Listermann’s Oktoberfest lager (the only official Oktoberfest beer at the party). Listermann has teamed up with Cincideutsch to give an authentic German feel to the festivities. Kids and dogs welcome. 5 p.m.-midnight Friday; noon-11 p.m. Saturday. Free admission. 1621 Dana Ave., Evanston, listermannbrewing.com.

Sounds in the Art at Chase Public
Photo: Richard Scheltz
Nashville-based, College-Conservatory of Music-trained percussionist Colleen Phelps presents an evening of percussion, spoken word and visual art at Chase Public. Aided by painter Drew Yakscoe, Phelps’ current project combines music and visual art and includes classical compositions by famous composers such as Bach, as well as more conceptual-based art practices like John Cage’s “Composed Improvisation For Snare Drum” and Antoine Saint-Exupéry’s “Je Demande Pardon aux Enfants.” 7 p.m. Friday. Free. 1569 Chase Ave., Suite 4, Northside, facebook.com/chasepublic.

When it comes to native spirits, there are few that excite as much as Kentucky bourbon. This weekend, the Mainstrasse Village Association and Wellmann’s Brands plan to bring the very best in micro, craft and large-scale distillery representations to keep the bourbon flowing at Oak, Toast & Two Aging Barrels. But there’s more to the bourbon festival than just drinking: Patrons will have the opportunity to attend a variety of seminars, presentations, paired family-style bourbon meals and meet-and-greets with master distillers. 6-10 p.m. Friday; 1-10 p.m. Saturday; noon-3 p.m. Sunday. Prices vary. Mainstrasse Village, Covington, Ky., mainstrasse.org.

The River Grill Before the Big Chill
Photo: Provided
If you ever thought you could win a Kansas City Barbecue Society-sanctioned cooking contest, now is your chance to prove it. If you could care less about a cooking competition and would rather enjoy eating barbecue at your leisure, this is your chance, too. The River Grill Before the Big Chill hosts barbecue competitions in categories including chicken, pork rib and pork butt with cash prizes and bragging rights. Following the competition, the “Big Chill” portion of the event features dozens of participating food vendors, live music and beer. Following the competition, the “Big Chill” portion of the event features dozens of participating food vendors, live music and beer. 5-11 p.m. Friday; noon-9 p.m. Saturday. $5. Sawyer Point, 705 E. Pete Rose Way, Downtown,cincyrivergrill.com

Joe Tucker
Photo by Cameron Knight
Tucker’s, the comfort-food breakfast and lunch café and Over-the-Rhine landmark, has been a Vine Street institution for 50 years, opened by current owner Joe Tucker’s parents in 1957. In July, the restaurant’s kitchen caught fire and the resulting damage devastated the building, closing Tucker’s for now. However, the community is rallying to help the family raise money to rebuild by hosting a fundraiser at the Northside Tavern on Friday, featuring live music on three stages, plus food-for-a-donation from Joe himself. Donate online at gofundme.com/5w2jfk2t98r. 6 p.m.-2 a.m. Friday. Free. Northside Tavern, 4163 Hamilton Ave., Northside, northsidetav.com/cincy.

Set just after Columbus’ discovery of the New World, Charise Castro Smith’s satirical and often anachronistic historical play covers a lot of territory. In 1504, Spain’s Queen Isabella is fretting about her empire and dying of some horrible plague, and she’s likely to be succeeded by her bratty daughter. Meanwhile, Isabella’s brilliant sister — a reclusive, atheist hunchback — is stuck in her bedroom thinking about cats, math and a Muslim lover. It’s a wild tale — just what you expect to see at Know Theatre — but this production comes to Over-the-Rhine from the drama program at the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music. Through Oct. 24. $20; $10 rush seats. Know Theatre, 1120 Jackson St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-300-5669, knowtheatre.com

Photo: Jesse Fox
CityBeat’s inaugural PET-oberfest celebrates Adopt a Shelter Pet Month by bringing hundreds of adoptable dogs, cats, puppies and kittens from local rescue and adoption groups to the Bertke Electric Warehouse in Northside. The goal of this festival is to find loving, permanent homes for pets from rescue agencies including Tails of Hope, Dream House Rescue, League of Animal Welfare, Luv Fur Mutts and more. Come and you just might meet your new furry family member. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday. Free admission. Bertke Electric Warehouse, 1645 Blue Rock St., Northside, citybeat.com.

For the fifth year in a row, the City Flea showcases a variety of regional vendors, from vintage dealers and hair stylists to coffee shops and book sellers. Find anything and everything you need, all while enjoying the great social atmosphere of Washington Park. A live DJ provides music and trucks serve food all day. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday. Free. Washington Park, 1230 Elm St., Cincinnati, thecityflea.com

Great Ohio River Swim
Photo: Provided
Grab your goggles for the eighth-annual Great Ohio River Swim. Starting at the upstream end of the Serpentine Wall, this 900-meter course goes straight across the river to Kentucky and angles back to finish at Public Landing. A 30-minute swim clinic starts at 7:30 a.m. and will give nervous participants a rundown of the basics of open-water swimming in the Ohio River. Proceeds benefit Green Umbrella, a sustainability alliance for Cincinnati. Check-in begins 6:30 a.m.; race begins at 8:15 a.m. Saturday. $20-$25. Serpentine Wall, 705 E. Pete Rose Way, Cincinnati, greatohioriverswim.com.

Don’t fear the walking dead — dance with them at the inaugural Zombie Ball: Dance of the UnDead on Pyramid Hill. Come dressed as a zombie, vampire, mummy or your favorite ghoulish character and enjoy creepy cocktails, haunted hayrides and more with fellow specters. For a particularly stylish spook (and a few extra dollars), guests can be escorted to the event’s red carpet from the entrance of the park in a hearse. Dance “Thriller”-style with a DJ after imbibing an open beer-and-wine bar, and preserve the moment in a zombie photo booth. 7-11 p.m. Saturday. $30; $50 couples. 1763 Hamilton-Cleves Road, Hamilton, 513-868-8336, pyramidhill.org. 

Photo: Lauryn Sophia
The first thing you see on the website for Portland, Maine quintet SeepeopleS is the pronouncement that the group plays “Anti-Genre-New-Music.” One listen to the group’s 2015 release, the two-disc, 25-song epic Dead Souls Sessions, and the description makes perfect sense. The band’s kitchen-sink Alt Rock is a psychedelic swirl of influences that makes it blissfully hard to pin down, rolling from ambient, acoustic Indie Folk to quirky Electro Pop to driving, trippy AltRock with an infectious sense of adventure that never slows down. It’s a head-trip of a listen in recorded form; it should be fascinating to see and hear the band pull off the ambitious album in a live context. 9 p.m. Saturday. $5. Stanley’s Pub, 323 Stanley Ave., Columbia Tusculum, facebook.com/stanleys.pub

Greater Cincinnati Kitchen & Bath Show
Photo: Provided
Whether you’re in need of some renovation inspiration for your kitchen or bath, or you just get a thrill from looking at the latest in tiled backsplashes, the Greater Cincinnati Kitchen & Bath Show has what you need. The show features vendors that specialize in the latest trends and products in cabinetry, flooring, hardware, plumbing, general remodeling and more, including green upgrades and energy-efficient retrofits. Noon-8 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday; 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday. $8 adult; free for kids 12 and younger. Duke Energy Convention Center, 525 Elm St., Downtown, cincinnatikitchenbathshow.com.

Of course you know The Silence of the Lambs, the creepy movie about “Hannibal the Cannibal.” It was a big hit in 1991 with Anthony Hopkins as the brilliant, manipulative serial killer and Jodie Foster as the young FBI cadet who recruits him to help her catch a different psychopath. Well, wouldn’t you know that someone turned it into Silence! The Musical, an award winner at the 2005 New York International Fringe Festival? It’s become a cult favorite, and the parody-loving folks at Falcon Theatre have landed it after several years of hot pursuit. Bon appetit! Through Oct. 10. $15-$20. Monmouth Theatre, 636 Monmouth St., Newport, Ky., 513-479-6783, falcontheatre.net

Ohio Sauerkraut Festival
Head to Waynesville, Ohio for the annual Ohio Sauerkraut Festival, featuring more than 30 nonprofit groups selling all sorts of sauerkraut dishes: pizza, pies, cookies, rolls, soups, pork and more. 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday; 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday. Free admission. 10 N. Main St., Waynesville, Ohio, sauerkrautfestival.com.

Photo: Kathy Newton
Kids and animals alike are in for a special treat during the Cincinnati Zoo’s HallZOOween festival. This family-friendly Halloween celebration features trick-or-treat stations for the kids, costumed characters, a Hogwarts Express train ride and special pumpkin playtime for elephants, otters, meerkats and more. Bring your own treat bag to stuff with goodies and hunt for the Golden Frisch’s Big Boy. Two golden Big Boy statues will be hidden around the zoo each weekend; whoever finds them wins a special zoo/Frisch’s prize package (with tartar sauce). Follow clues on the zoo’s Twitter page: #BigBoyClue. Noon-5 p.m. Select Saturdays and Sundays in October. Free with zoo admission ($18 adult; $12 child/senior). Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, 3400 Vine St., Avondale, cincinnatizoo.org.

Cincinnati Chocolate Festival
Photo: Provided
It’s paradise for your sweet tooth: an entire afternoon of tastings, contests and demonstrations centered on nothing but chocolate. The sixth-annual fest features more than 20 vendors — including Aglamesis Bro.’s, Macaron Bar, Three B’s Sweets and Gigi’s Cupcakes — who will give out treats throughout the day in exchange for tasting tickets. The event also incorporates several cooking demos, including a lesson on using sweet flavors to encourage your kids to eat healthy foods. At 1:30 p.m., Food Network host Ben Vaughn — an award-winning chef and restaurateur — will demonstrate a chocolate recipe from his new book Southern Routes. Noon-5 p.m. Sunday. $10; free 12 and younger. Cintas Center, Xavier University, 1624 Herald Ave., Evanston, 513-745-3428, cincinnatichocolatefestival.com 

Lauren Groff
Photo: © Megan Brown 
Lauren Groff’s Fates and Furies focuses on two charismatic characters, Lancelot (Lotto) and Mathilde, as they navigate the peaks and valleys of their seemingly idyllic matrimony. The depths and intricacies of these two protagonists are revealed separately in two sections, with Lotto recounting their lives in Fates, and Mathilde often offering divergent takes and revealing new truths in Furies. It’s a bold, nakedly honest, deeply sensual novel filled with literary references from Greek mythology to Shakespeare. Fates and Furies has been long-listed for the 2015 National Book Award. Groff is also the author of two other novels and a collection of short stories. She has won the Paul Bowles Prize for Fiction, the PEN/O. Henry Award and the Pushcart Prize. Read CityBeat's interview with Groff here. Lauren Groff will read from Fates and Furies 5 p.m. Sunday at Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Rookwood Commons. More info: josephbeth.com.

Weeki Wachee Mermaids
Photo: Provided 
Mermaids are no longer a myth — they are a limited-time attraction at the Newport Aquarium. Watch the graceful and finned Weeki Wachee Mermaids as they swim underwater with sea creatures daily inside the aquarium’s tanks. The Weeki Wachee Mermaids, a classic roadside attraction from Weeki Wachee Springs State Park in Florida, have been swimming for more than 60 years, delighting visitors with simple magic. Through Oct. 12. Free with admission. Newport on the Levee, Newport, Ky., newportaquarium.com. 

Old West Fest
Photo: Mikki Schaffner
If you have a pair of cowboy boots laying around that you’ve been meaning to break out, you’re in luck — Old West Fest is back for its eighth year, featuring an authentic recreated Old West Dodge-City-style town, with gold panning, covered-wagon rides, kids activities, live entertainment (including trick riding and a saloon show) and more. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Through Oct. 18. $12 adults; $6 ages 6-12; free under 12. 1449 Greenbush Cobb Road, Williamsburg, oldwestfestival.com.

Ohio Renaissance Festival
Photo: Will Thorpe Photography 
The Ohio Renaissance Festival is back and bringing fall weekends filled with costumes, turkey legs, mulled mead, jousting, games, glass-blowing demonstrations, choirs, crafts and tarot readings inside a 30-acre, recreated 16th-century village. This weekend is opening weekend, so tickets for adults are buy-one-get-one, and kids under 12 get in free. Be sure to check the website for themed weekends and different deals. Nerds of all kinds welcome — just remember that any medieval weapons you might bring need to be tied in a sheath at all times. 10:30 a.m.- 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays (and Labor Day). Through Oct. 25. $21.95 adult; $9.95 child; $119.95 season pass. 10542 E. State Route 73, Waynesville, renfestival.com. 

Season 6 begins with a 90-minute premiere followed by Chris Hardwick’s Talking Dead. Here’s what we know: Morgan and Rick will finally have a chance to catch up (hopefully we’ll get a dedicated flashback scene/episode that shows how Morgan transformed from his condition in “Clear” to his current state of badassery); comic character Paul “Jesus” Monroe will be introduced; Ethan Embry, Merritt Wever and Corey Hawkins (Straight Outta Compton’s Dr. Dre) join the cast; and the group — currently living in the safe-ish community of Alexandria outside Washington, D.C. — will face multiple threats from outside the walls and within. Season Premiere, 9 p.m., AMC.

Ruth’s Parkside Café celebrates two years in business with a special dinner to benefit Churches Active in Northside. 5-8 p.m. $40. Ruth’s, 1550 Blue Rock St., Northside, cainministry.org.

The Fall Floral Show at the Krohn Conservatory hosts an event to highlight everyone’s favorite fungus: mushrooms. Chef Ursula will prepare exotic mushroom bruschetta, triple mushroom barley soup and fall flavor-infused beers from Queen City Brewery. 1-3 p.m. $4 adults. Krohn Conservatory, Eden Park, cincinnatiparks.org.

by Nick Swartsell 10.09.2015 48 days ago
Posted In: News at 10:15 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Morning News and Stuff

Former Drop Inn Center reopens in Queensgate; free health screenings offered throughout city on Sunday; U.S. House slips further into chaos

Good morning all. It’s news time friends.

Today marks the opening of David and Rebecca Baron Center for Men, the homeless shelter in Queensgate replacing the Drop Inn Center that was located in Over-the-Rhine for decades. The shelter, located in a renovated Butternut Bread factory on Gest Street, has 150 beds and more than 79,000 square feet of space. The shelter, operated by nonprofit Shelterhouse, is one of five operating as part of the city’s Homelessness to Homes plan overseen by Strategies to End Homelessness. The move marks the end of years of fighting by advocates for the homeless to keep the shelter, the region’s largest, in Over-the-Rhine.

• Cincinnati’s chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists yesterday hosted a panel discussion on media coverage of the July shooting death of Samuel DuBose by University of Cincinnati Police officer Ray Tensing. The panel, staged at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, included Cincinnati City Manager Harry Black, attorneys for both the DuBose family and Ray Tensing, a representative from Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters’ office and news directors from The Cincinnati Enquirer and Channels 9, 19, 12 and 5. Topics ranged from the portrayal of both Tensing and DuBose in the initial reporting of the incident — many outlets showed a mugshot of DuBose and referred to him as a “suspect” in their early reports, while showing Tensing in uniform — to the media’s responsibility to report accurately without further inflaming community tensions. I live tweeted a lot of the discussion, as did many other attendees, under the hashtag #wordsandimages. Check out the discussion.

• First Lady Dena Cranley and a number of faith leaders will announce the first step in a major health initiative today at City Hall at 1 pm. Cranley, national executive director of the First Ladies Health Initiative Tracey Alston and the wives of a number of church leaders will unveil the first-annual health day, which will take place Sunday Oct. 11. The event, which will offer free health screenings for a number of conditions from diabetes to HIV, will take place at 18 locations throughout the city. You can find these locations and hours they'll be open here.

• A landmark historic building in Walnut Hills is on its way to renovation. Last week, the Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation purchased the iconic Paramount Building on Peebles Corner for $750,000 and plans a full-scale redevelopment of the property. The foundation estimates that work will cost at least $3 million and is currently raising funds to complete the effort. The 80-year-old Paramount long served as a theater in the neighborhood and is one of Walnut Hills’ distinctive landmarks with its turret-like front façade.

• How much does health care cost in Cincinnati? Well, it depends, and it’s kinda arbitrary. That’s especially true when it comes to care for women, a new study released by castlighthealth.com finds. Costs for procedures like mammograms diverge wildly in the Cincinnati area, running anywhere from $123 to nearly $300 depending on where you go. HPV tests are similarly wide-ranging in their costs. Healthcare outlets charge anywhere from $24 to $208 for the routine test. Some other, non-gender specific health services, such as a preventive primary care visit, also vary wildly in price, but the ranges are especially wide for services for women. The price differences reflect the varying deals insurers are able to strike with hospitals and other healthcare providers, as well as a number of other factors that Castlight researchers say show how dysfunctional America’s healthcare system is. You can see the full study and how Cincinnati compares to other cities here.

• So this is just really cool. Officials and community advocates in Akron shut down a highway to hold a 500-person dinner and community conversation. On Oct. 4, Akron police shut down a section of the city's Inner Belt Freeway while volunteers set up 63 tables for guests. Attendees, led by facilitators, then had a meal and discussed the city's future, delving into a number of contentious issues while taking notes and sketching out ideas. Among the topics of discussion: what to do with the freeway they were sitting on, which cut through low-income neighborhoods and separated them from downtown when it was built in the 1970s. That freeway will soon be shut down  — it serves only 18,000 cars a day, a far cry from the 120,000 for which it was designed.

• Could John Boehner’s resignation from the House of Representatives and the ensuing chaos it has caused (more on that in a minute) have repercussions in the Kentucky governor’s race? It’s looking like it. Republican gubernatorial candidate and tea party dude Matt Bevin has been waging a tough-fought campaign against Democrat candidate Jack Conway. But now, at least some prominent Republicans in Kentucky are turning their backs on Bevin in favor of Conway as a result of distaste for the tea party movement that has caused deep fissures within the GOP. Part of the lingering bitterness is from Bevin’s 2012 primary challenge of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. Bevin ran a nasty campaign against McConnell, marshaling tea party anger and attempting to use it against the veteran lawmaker. Bevin failed in that race, but has been seen as a viable candidate for governor. But with the divide between establishment Republicans and radical tea party conservatives growing wider, it may be hard for him to pull together the support he needs to defeat Conway.

• Finally, speaking of all that, I just want to talk really quick about how fascinating things are getting in the House of Representatives. A couple weeks back we told you about how the resignation of House Speaker and Greater Cincinnatian John Boehner could bring more power to hardline rightwingers in the GOP. At the time, this was an arguable point, considering House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy was all lined up to take Boehner’s place. Now, it’s not that McCarthy isn’t conservative, but like Boehner, he has no interested in shutting down the government or engaging in some of the more radical tactics tea party conservatives in the House have championed. Welp, hate to say I told you so, but yesterday McCarthy dropped out of the running for speaker, and now Republicans are scrambling to find a willing replacement who isn’t part of the three dozen or so tea party radicals in the GOP. Party leaders, including Boehner, who just wants to get the hell out of there at this point, are reportedly begging U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, former Vice Presidential candidate in Mitt Romney’s last run, to step up and take the job, but Ryan’s all like, nah, that’s cool I’m good.

That’s it for me. Hit me up on Twitter or email me with news tips or your favorite Halloween haunted houses. I’m trying to hit up several before they close for the season.

by Rick Pender 10.09.2015 48 days ago
Posted In: Theater at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Stage Door

Sex and violence, plus an irreverent take on history

I gave a Critic’s Pick to the Cincinnati Playhouse’s production of Sex with Strangers, a new play by Laura Eason (who’s written scripts for House of Cards on Netflix). Ethan, an arrogant 28-year-old blogger has turned his writing about sexual conquests into a best-selling book, while Olivia is a serious, introspective writer who, at 39, is hiding behind a teaching career, discouraged by negative reviews and weak sales of her first novel more than a decade earlier. He’s addicted to his cell phone, while she prefers to have her nose in a book. But they have chemistry that’s both physical and driven by aspiration and envy of one another’s careers. The Playhouse production features two actors who are totally believable in their roles, and extremely watchable. It’s an entertaining tale that doesn’t tie everything up in a neat ending. Through Oct. 25. Tickets: 513-421-3888

William Mastrisomone’s Extremities (running through Oct. 18) is not an easy play to watch. A woman is attacked by a stalker, turns the tables on him and becomes as much a bloodthirsty animal as the man who thought he could have his way with her. She has two roommates who try to defuse her violent intentions, but she’s almost as harsh with them as with the bad guy. It’s a harsh story that’s not easy to watch, and it’s a departure for Cincinnati Landmark Productions, which is known for more mainstream fare, musicals and classic comedies. But the company’s artistic leaders are hoping that the new Incline Theatre can be a venue for more serious work, and this show, written in 1982, certainly signals that. Solid individual acting jobs by the four-member cast will keep you on edge. There are a few rough edges, but I give CLP props for getting serious. Tickets: 513-241-6550

Know Theatre is playing host to a production from the drama program at CCM, directed by faculty member Brant Russell. Charise Castro Smith’s The Hunchback of Seville is an irreverent and raucous comedy that turns historical atrocities — it’s set in Spain in 1504 — on their heads with storytelling that might remind you of Quentin Tarantino’s movies. Russell says the playwright “weaves history and anachronism. The subtle variances of tone, the frequently less subtle humor and the savoring of the language all speak to me. In terms of content, this play is very much about anyone who’s ever been marginalized. This is the story of a woman who is denied so many privileges that others enjoy because she was born in a body different from those around her. Ultimately it’s a story about privilege, ethics, power, and the way we tell the story of our shared history.” It opens tonight and continues through Oct. 24. Tickets: 513-300-5669 

Advance notices: I’m really looking forward to seeing Pippin, the next touring Broadway musical at the Aronoff, kicking off on Tuesday. It’s by Stephen Schwartz (Godspell and Wicked are two of his best-known works), and this is a production that won a 2013 Tony Award as the season’s best musical revival. It’s a cool concept, integrating Cirque du Soleil-like performers into the story of a young man’s quest for meaning in the Middle Ages. It’s here for just one week (through Sunday, Oct. 18), so if you hope to see it, get your tickets now. … Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati will open its production of Buyer and Cellar on Wednesday (it continues through Nov. 1). It’s a very funny one-man show about an out-of-work actor hired to manage Barbra Streisand’s collections of stuff, set up like a shopping mall. There’s enough reality to make it hilarious, and enough truth to make it meaningful. I suspect it will be a hot ticket: 513-421-3555 

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