CityBeat - Blogs http://www.citybeat.com/cincinnati/blogs.engine.php <![CDATA[Locally Based Start-Up Seeks Musician Input]]>

Late last year it was announced that Brad Schnittger (member of the great local band The Sundresses) was selected as one of two "Haile Fellows" for 2015 by People’s Liberty, which provides $100,000 grants to start-ups in an effort to “uncover opportunities to accelerate the positive transformation of Greater Cincinnati.”


The grant will allow Schnittger the opportunity to fully focus on his MusicLi (pronounced "musically") project, which is described as “an online music-business management dashboard for artists.” Artists who create MusicLi accounts will be able to use the service to digitally distribute and protect their music, and also enter it into the company’s licensing catalog, providing musicians with a nice alternative (or, if things go well, primary) revenue stream. MusicLi's “core principle” is described thusly: “There are wonderfully talented musicians in the Greater Cincinnati area, and if their music is digitally cataloged, published and made accessible for the purpose of licensing, this music can generate income for those musicians and make Cincinnati a better place to live.”


MusicLi recently launched a brief, 10-question survey to get some feedback from musicians to help guide the project’s direction. If you’d like to participate, click here. For more on People’s Liberty, this year’s grant’s recipients and complete details on their projects, click here


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<![CDATA[Forgotten Classics: Hook]]>

On Aug. 11, 2014, the world lost one of its greatest entertainers of the last century — Robin Williams. I can remember where I was when I heard about his passing. I just got home from my day job as a security guard at King’s Island, logged onto Facebook and the first thing I saw was the headline reading “Robin Williams dies at 63.” To say that I was upset would be putting it lightly.

I think I can say with confidence that the whole world loved Williams because he touched us with his movies, television shows and stand-up specials. Of course anyone who grew up in the ‘80s and ‘90s will list off countless movies that left an impression on them, be it his game-changing performance in the Disney classic Aladdin (1992, directed by Ron Clements and John Musker) or his heartfelt and inspiring role in Dead Poets Society (1989, directed by Peter Weir). But the movie I’ve singled out this time was a go-to rental for me when I was a kid, when video stores were still a thing. That film is Steven Spielberg’s Hook (1991).

I’m sure many people are calling shenanigans on this being a “forgotten” film mainly due to Robin Williams in the lead role and Steven Spielberg being the director. I would be amongst those crying outrage as well, but when I began to think about it I realized most fans know of it only because of the nostalgia factor.

When it comes to listing the best of Spielberg or Williams, there are other films that would’ve been listed before this one. Even Spielberg himself had stated that the final product isn’t what he wanted and that he basically wants someone to remake it. But I can say that the product we have is a more than suitable film: the story of the workaholic lawyer Peter Banning (Williams) who ventures off to Neverland to rescue his children who have been captured by villainous Captain Hook (Dustin Hoffman). In that quest he discovers why his children were kidnapped — Hook did it to draw Peter Pan back to Neverland and fight him, and it turns out that Bannings is Pan. The catch is that Peter has forgotten who he is. Throughout the film Peter goes on a spiritual journey to rediscover who he is and rescue his children with the help of his ever faithful Tinkerbell (Julia Roberts) and the Lost Boys.

Williams is absolutely flawless in this role. He perfectly conveys both the uptight and work-centered lawyer and the childlike energy of the boy who refused to grow up. The lesson he learns in the end is something that is very logical and is something that should speak to anyone — while we all must grow up, we mustn’t lose our sense of adventure and wonder.

Peter’s journey to that conclusion is drawn in comparison to his archenemy Captain Hook. Ironically enough, it’s the adult who stays at a more immature stand point. In the original J.M. Barrie story, one could says that Peter is the hero not only because he rescues his friends from the villain but also because he lives in the moment and doesn’t oppose over anything, while Hook is all about revenge and will not rest until he has it.

At the beginning of the film Peter has his mind set on only one thing and that’s being a lawyer. That singular mindset leads Wendy (Maggie Smith) to say, “Peter, you’ve become a pirate.”

Peter’s son Jack (Charlie Korsmo) almost becomes like Hook as well when all he seems focused on is bitterness and hatred towards his father. Hook focuses on Jack’s anger and uses that as a weapon against the now aged Peter. But this ties in with another reason why Hook can be a considered a villain — he lets his anger control his life. Peter and Jack soon realize how petty and how unfulfilling holding a grudge is.

While I do see a couple problems in the film, mainly in the script department, I can’t deny the fact that I still find this film enjoyable and well made to this day. This was also a film that truly displayed why Williams was so beloved: He made us laugh, cry, and gave us that warm feeling that we all pine for. I guarantee that in years to come, this performance — among many others — will be fondly remembered.

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<![CDATA[Morning News and Stuff]]>

Hey all! Here’s the news today.

A well-known former attorney has filed a federal lawsuit against the Kentucky Bar Association to get his license back after it was suspended. Eric Deters has served three suspensions over his career for making false statements in court, failing to return a fee to a client and other infractions. The latest suspension was handed down by the Kentucky Supreme Court in April. The court has an agreement with the high court in Ohio, keeping Deters from practicing here as well. Now Deters says he’s served his suspensions and wants to go back to practicing law, and says the Kentucky Supreme Court should reinstate him. Deters retired rather than seek reinstatement in Kentucky and Ohio, and indicated at the time he had no interest in practicing law again in either state. He’s acting as his own attorney, which has led to this pretty amazing complaint:

"Deters is no saint," he writes of himself in his complaint. "He is a sinner. But Deters is fit to practice law. Lawyers are not a choral of angels." Choir? Corral? Whatever. Deters is too tough for the haters. “What Deters incurred, lesser men would have have crumbled long ago," he says of the emotional and physical toll his suspension has caused. He blames an infection that nearly took his arm on the stress and strife his suspension has inflicted on him.

• You can never ban the devil’s weed too early or too often. At least, that’s the prevailing wisdom on Hamilton’s City Council, which banned sale of the drug in the city limits yesterday in a 5-1 vote. Though marijuana is already illegal in Ohio, council members wanted to have a municipal ordinance in place just in case a potential ballot initiative legalizing the measure passes in November and all hell breaks loose. ResponsibleOhio, the group filing the initiative, still needs to collect 300,000 signatures by July to even get the measure on the ballot, but better safe than sorry, Hamilton officials say.

“It's just being prepared for what happens if anything happens whether it be legislature or amendment, it's just being prepared for the next step," Hamilton Mayor Pat Moeller said.

• The Kentucky House passed a bill yesterday allowing the state to participate in public-private partnerships, clearing another hurdle for a toll-based Brent Spence Bridge replacement. However, several key changes were made to the bill to make it more friendly to Kentucky residents and lawmakers who may oppose tolls. These include requiring any tolls levied as part of a public-private partnership to expire once debt on the project is paid off, requiring analysis of any public-private partnership to make sure it’s the best way to do a project and requiring a majority of lawmakers on project oversight commissions be from the county where the project is happening. Next, the bill goes to the Kentucky Senate, where it will face opposition from GOP senators who are staunchly opposed to tolls on the Brent Spence project.

• Here’s another tidbit from Gov. John Kasich’s State of the State address earlier this week. Kasich devoted part of his speech to education in Ohio, defending his public school funding scheme and also his support of the state’s embattled charter school system. Kasich defended putting more money into that system despite low performance by many charter schools and questions about some schools’ integrity. He agreed that the system should have more oversight in the wake of allegations of wrongdoing at some schools across the state, but also defended schools that have simply been low-performing. Here, he made a pretty stunning statement:

“Let’s not judge someone as not doing their job because they’ve inherited a group of students who are just struggling,” he said.

Here’s the thing: This is the same (I’d say very fair and correct) logic many have used to defend struggling public schools the charter system was meant to compete with and do better than. That is more or less the whole reason charter schools exist, according to their creators and supporters. Sooo… blame public schools for their inability to educate students who struggle under the weight of very real massive systemic problems that make it difficult for them to learn, but don’t blame charter schools that take money from those schools and make their jobs even more difficult for the same thing. Got it.

• Speaking of Kasich, he’s finally getting some national attention as he steps up his efforts to run for the GOP presidential nomination in 2016. Maybe it’s not always the attention he wants — this story calls him out on his efforts to create a Rondald Reagan-inspired balanced budget amendment to the U.S. constitution — but on the other hand, if you’re a Republican governor looking to run for president, perhaps a piece in liberal Mother Jones magazine about how lame your policy ideas are means you’ve finally arrived. So, uh, congrats on the milestone, governor!

• Let’s talk about a former governor for a minute, specifically Democrat Ted Strickland, who just jumped into the 2016 U.S. Senate race. As we’ve already discussed, Strickland’s announcement earlier this week caused a big stir, and now he’s already getting hit by GOPers and concerned editorial writers across the state. Ohio GOP Chairman Matt Borges mocked Strickland’s entrance into the race on Twitter today, saying, “same old @ohdems. Can’t get their act together” in response to an article about Strickland possibly having to face Cincinnati City Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld in a primary. There are worries that a very contentious primary could sabotage Democrat’s chances at picking up incumbent Sen. Rob Portman’s seat, which is dearly needed if Democrats want to take back control of the Senate in 2016. On the other hand, having two strong candidates could be seen as an encouraging sign for the party, and the early level of mockery from Republicans shows they’re taking the threat from Strickland seriously. It’s already clear this isn’t last year’s governor’s race, where Kasich straight-up didn’t acknowledge Dem opponent Ed Fitzgerald during a debate because he didn’t have to.

• Finally, the Federal Communications Commission is voting on net neutrality today. This is a huge day for the Internet. If you don't know what's up, uh, start reading.

Update: the FCC voted 3-2 to require internet providers to operate as neutral gateways through which internet service flows. That ruling prohibits providers from making so-called "fastlanes" that would provide higher-speed connections for some companies and content. Also today, the FCC struck down state laws prohibiting cities from establishing their own internet services, allowing municipalities to create their own internet services in places that may only have one (or no) reliable internet service provider.

That’s it for me. You know the drill. Tweet at me. Email me (nswartsell@citybeat.com). Messenger pigeon me. Whatever you gotta do to get those news tips and whatever else you want to talk about. 

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<![CDATA[Bunbury Music Festival Announces 2015 Lineup]]>

The Bunbury Music Festival will present its fourth annual three-day event on Cincinnati’s riverfront (Sawyer Point and Yeatman’s Cove) June 5-7 this year (moved up from the usual July dates due to Reds/All Star Game activities). This morning, organizers of the festival — which was purchased by Columbus-based PromoWest Productions late last year — officially announced the lineup this morning. 


Bunbury 2015 will feature headliners The Black Keys, Snoop Dogg and The Avett Brothers. The rest of the lineup includes Brand New, Tame Impala, The Decemberists, Old Crow Medicine Show, twenty one pilots, Walk the Moon, Matt and Kim, Bleachers, Royal Blood, Manchester Orchestra, Father John Misty, Atmosphere, Temples, Shakey Graves, Kacey Musgraves, The Devil Makes Three, Reverend Horton Heat, Lindsey Stirling, Catfish & The Bottlemen, Jamestown Revival, Mikky Ekko, The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band, Mini Mansion, The Front Bottoms, Jessica Hernandez, Secret Sisters, Lil Dicky, machineheart, Go Analog, Bummers and Indigo Wild. 


So far, Cincinnati acts on the bill include Multimagic, Buggs Tha Rocka and RCA recording artists Walk the Moon, who have been touring relentlessly behind their sophomore major label release, Talking Is Hard (the band recently appeared on The Tonight Show; see video below). More artists are expected to be announced leading up to the festival.



One-day and three-day tickets for the 2015 Bunbury fest are available now. Click here for pricing and links.  

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<![CDATA[From the Copy Desk]]>

Good morning readers. I hope you're all surviving the bleak, cold, dark days of February better than I am. I can't stop myself from browsing the "Getaways" section of Groupon — five night, all-inclusive stay in Punta Cana? Sign me up! I'll go anywhere the sun is shining and the heat is brimming.

Someday, right? For now, though, I've got my coffee and a list of Words Nobody Uses or Knows from this week's issue. Let's get started.

My favorite word of the issue (or phrase, really) is in toto. It's found in Kathy Y. Wilson's editorial on the Oscars, a night, as Neil Patrick Harris so accurately said, where "we celebrate Hollywood’s best and whitest, sorry… brightest."

In toto: a Latin phrase meaning in the whole; as a whole (adv.)

In the issue: "Secondly, the voter finessed the fact that most members are white men — which is, in fact, the larger problem plaguing Hollywood in toto and it is the direct genealogical link to the white-out of this year’s Oscars and what’s fraught past racist Oscar races."

Though whenever I say in toto, I can't help but think of Toto, Dorthory's dog in Wizard of Oz.

Anyway, next up is the French word outré, pronounced OO-TREY.  (French words are the best, aren't they?)

outré: highly unconventional; eccentric or bizarre (adj.)

In this issue: "Later, during an interview for this story, Katkin explained his affinity for that band, which released several outré albums in the late 1980s and early 1990s."

Environs, another word of French origin, caught my eye too.

environs: a surrounding area, especially of a city; surroundings; environment (plural n.)

My mind is a little blown by this one. It's essentially just another word for environment and yet I've never heard of it.

In this issue: "It’s bitter wisdom that easily translates to certain local music environs where bands are neither nurtured nor respected."


The last word I have jotted down is rubes, but I can't seem to find it anywhere in the issue. It may have been edited out (or else I'm reading things that aren't there). I'm going to include it anyway. The more you know, the more you grow, right?

I love this word because Rubes is one of the many, MANY nicknames I have for my cat Ruby. She is also sometimes called Ruben, Princess Pastry Puff, Doot, Street Rat ... OK I'll stop there.

rubes: an unsophisticated country person; nickname of Reuben (n.)


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<![CDATA[Cincinnati Shakespeare Company Announces 22nd Season]]>

As I wrote on Monday, season announcements from Cincinnati theaters are a sure sign that warmer days are ahead. The temperature cranked up a few more notches tonight when Cincinnati Shakespeare Company announced its 2015-2016 season. It’s no secret that CSC’s history and stock-in-trade are plays by William Shakespeare, of which they’ll offer four in the coming months. But their broadened scope includes definitive works of drama and stage adaptations of literary classics by great writers. Here’s what will be onstage at 719 Race St. from August 2015 through June 2016:

THE COMPLETE HISTORY OF AMERICA (ABRIDGED) by Adam Long, Reed Martin and Austin Tichenor. Cincy Shakes has had tons of fun with The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged). But Long, Martin and Tichenor have been generating laughs with numerous other subjects, and this is one of their best works. (It was staged at the Cincinnati Playhouse 10 years ago.) This one is a wild ride through our nation’s past featuring three actors, who probably did not pass high school history, who set off on a whirlwind historical tour that’s finds laughs in many of our nation’s greatest hits and misses. This production is a “season extra,” not included in subscription packages. July 24-Aug. 15, 2015.

CYRANO DE BERGERAC (based on Anthony Burgess’s translation of Edmond Rostand’s 1897 French play). Cincy Shakes will kick off the fall theater season with this classic romantic tale of the valiant and clever Cyrano de Bergerac, with long-time ensemble member Jeremy Dubin in the title role. Cyrano epitomized panache: In fact, that French word a feather or a plume was the hallmark of this dazzling swordsman and brilliant 16th-century poet. But he has a flaw, a gargantuan nose. He loves the beautiful and brilliant Roxane but is convinced his clownish appearance means he has no chance with her. Unaware of his feelings, Roxane tells him she loves Christian, a handsome but dull solider; Cyrano intercedes by writing letters and verses to her as if they were from Christian. The play has wit, swashbuckling adventure and profound romance. Sept. 1-Oct. 3, 2015.

 Jeremy Dubin as Cyrano in Cyrano de Bergerac. Photo: Mikki Schaffner.

DEATH OF A SALESMAN by Arthur Miller, written in 1949, won multiple Tony Awards as well as the Pulitzer Prize for drama. The story of the waning days of an aging salesman who still yearns to make it big is one of the great plays of the 20th century. Cincinnati stage veteran Bruce Cromer will play Willy Loman, the show’s memorable loser. This poignant tale of an average man trying to achieve the American Dream, surrounded by his strident sons and his loving wife is an exploration of failure and success that still resonates today. Oct. 16-Nov. 7, 2015.

AS YOU LIKE IT by William Shakespeare is the first of Shakespeare’s plays for the season and one of the Bard’s most popular, a predictable bestseller for Cincy Shakes. This time it will be the company’s offering around the holidays, featuring ensemble member Sara Clark playing the spirited Rosalind, banished to the Forest of Arden with only her cousin and a fool for company. She dresses as a man for protection and comedy ensues in the woods where love poems to her are posted on the trees. The lovelorn poet is handsome Orlando, whom she tests while hiding behind her boyish disguise. This show is great fun because it features numerous comic characters, delightful music and warm-hearted romance. Nov. 20-Dec. 12, 2015.

 Sara Clark as Rosalind in As You Like It. Photo: Mikki Schaffner.

EVERY CHRISTMAS STORY EVER TOLD (AND THEN SOME!) by Michael Carlton, James Fitzgerald and John K Alvarez. Cincy Shakes finishes up As You Like It just in time to celebrate the 10th anniversary of its annual holiday hit, an irreverent look at umpteen BHCs — the show’s acronym for “Beloved Holiday Classics.” The evening starts out innocently enough as one character endeavors to perform a solemn reading of A Christmas Carol. But before long audiences are entangled in the stories of Frosty, Rudolph, Charlie Brown and George Bailey. Four of Cincy Shakes’ veteran actors (one as a highly inebriated Santa) send up everything from Dickens to Dr. Seuss. It’s another “season extra” (outside regular subscriptions) and definitely not for anyone who still believes in Santa. Dec. 16-27, 2015.

HENRY VI , PART I by William Shakespeare. The company has committed parts of several seasons to work its way through Shakespeare’s cycle of history plays. This year it’s the first of three parts that tell the story of Henry VI. Actors continue to reprise roles they’ve played for several seasons in two parts of Henry IV and Henry V. In this installment, the untimely death of Henry V puts his infant son on the throne, and the War of the Roses, pitting the houses of York and Lancaster against one another, is off and running. Jan. 22-Feb. 13, 2016.

JANE AUSTEN’S EMMA (adapted by Jon Jory). Cincy Shakes has struck gold with stage productions of Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility, Jane Austen’s novels of early 19th-century manners as adapted by Jon Jory, the longtime artistic director of Actors Theatre of Louisville. These shows appealed to audiences in part because the company has a corps of talented female actors (presently showcased in Little Women) who will find great opportunities in Austen’s tale about amateur matchmaker Emma Wodehouse who lives to meddle in others’ love lives. When she tries to set up her less than promising friend Harriet, the plan goes awry, and Emma must try to undo the damage. It’s another classic story of wit, whimsy and anxious romance. Feb. 26-March 26, 2016.

JULIUS CAESAR by William Shakespeare. Part one of a season-ending epic pairing of two of the Bard’s great plays begins with this tragedy about the brilliant general, a cunning politician and beloved leader of ancient Rome. Jealous Roman patriots decide his ambition is a threat to the Republic and assassinate him on the senate floor. The result is a civil war that tests friendships and loyalties; it also determines the fate of the Roman Empire. April 8-May 7, 2016.

ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA by William Shakespeare. The second part of the company’s special event offers this rarely staged epic sequel to Julius Caesar. The civil war has ended and the empire has been divided. Marc Antony heads to Egypt to rule his corner of the globe, but his plans are sidetracked by Egypt’s Cleopatra. Their love affair pits Rome and Egypt against each other and changes the ancient world forever. May 13- June 4, 2016.

Subscriptions ($143-$233) are sold in flexible sets of seven that can be used one per production or in other combinations. Subscriptions and single tickets are now for sale via cincyshakes.com or by calling 513-381-2273, x1.

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<![CDATA[Cincinnati Artist Shinji Turner-Yamamoto Attracts International Attention]]>

Shinji Turner-Yamamoto's 2012 Global Tree Project: Hanging Garden — two trees suspended by wire inside Mt. Adams' deconsecrated (and crumbling) Holy Cross Church — is now generally recognized as one of the high points of public art in Cincinnati in recent years.

In addition to proving inspirational for us in terms of what large-scale, site-specific art can be and what local artists can accomplish, it also has attracted ongoing international attention for him.

The latest development is his inclusion in an exhibition, About Trees, opening this fall at the Zentrum Paul Klee museum in Bern, Switzerland. For his site-specific work in the museum's main hall, he will work with a dying linden tree on the museum grounds.

The exhibit — part of a trilogy of related shows that continues into 2017 — is dedicated to the tree as a motif in international contemporary art. Turner-Yamamoto finds himself in some very impressive company. Others with work in the show include Paul Klee, Carlos Amorales, Louise Bourgeois, Paul McCarthy, Ana Mendieta and Shirin Neshat.

Meanwhile, a large-scale photograph of the Hanging Garden installation was commissioned by Caroline Kennedy, U.S. Ambassador to Japan, for the ambassadorial residence in Tokyo as part of the Art in Embassies Program.

Also, he will have a show at the Weston Gallery here next year.

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<![CDATA[Morning News and Stuff]]>

Morning y’all. Let’s talk about the news real quick. I think winter is getting to me, because this update got pretty opinionated pretty quickly.

Can you think of anything useful, even vital, on which the county could spend $7.5 million? Maybe chipping in a bit more toward the Union Terminal renovation, or giving a bit to the effort to shape up Music Hall? Maybe addiction treatment or some other human services funding? More sheriff’s deputies on the streets? Or, you know, maybe they could put that cash toward a new crime lab and morgue, both of which are critically crowded and out of date. Or etc. I ask because $7.5 million is the recently-announced amount county taxpayers will pay for new Bengals scoreboards as part of some $12 million overall the county will cough up from its sales tax fund for stadium improvements. Is there any estimate on return on investment for the county on this? Will the new high-definition scoreboards create at least $7.5 million in sales taxes for the county somehow? In return for this outpouring of county largess tied to the 15-year-old albatross of a stadium deal, the Bengals made an exception for projects at The Banks to a provision in their lease that stipulates the height of buildings around the stadium. That’s nice of them. These are all things I will receive exactly zero benefit from in my lifetime.

• Anyway. Speaking of the county, it has settled with the families of three women whose corpses were abused by a former morgue employee from the 1970s to the 1990s. The county will pay $800,000 to the families to end a lawsuit centered around the behavior of Kenneth Douglass, who is believed to have abused more than 100 bodies in the years he worked for the morgue.

• This is pretty cool, I think. The University of Cincinnati will redevelop the old Sears building on Reading Road and Lincoln Avenue in Corryville into an innovation hub for UC-related startups. The university will spend about $16 million to turn the 130,000-square-foot structure, which has a distinct Art Deco vibe, into a business and tech incubator. The building was the first Sears store in the city when it was built in 1929. I’ve always really liked this building, and recently, with the fencing that has surrounded it, I’ve been afraid they would tear it down. UC bought the building in 1981 and it housed the university’s campus services until last year. When I was an Americorps member a few years ago, the UC-affiliated nonprofit I worked for had storage space in the building. I know its creepy, dimly-lit hallways well and I’m excited to see it restored.

• It’s official. Former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland has entered the 2016 Senate race. Strickland, who will be 75 by that time, could face off against Republican incumbent Sen. Rob Portman, creating a high-profile battle between two of the biggest names in state politics. Portman is popular, with millions in the bank for his next campaign, but Strickland is a formidable opponent and perhaps Democrats’ best shot. However, at the moment, Strickland’s got some competition for the Democratic nomination in the form of Cincinnati City Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld. Sittenfeld, 30, announced his intentions to run last month and has raised $500,000 for his campaign thus far. He’s a dynamic young candidate who has done a great deal in a short time and looks to still be on the rise. Some within the party believe he’ll bow out to the higher-profile and more experienced Strickland, but some of Sittenfeld’s own funders have indicated they’re backing him no matter who else is in the game. Will P.G. keep running, or will the state party convince him to sit this one out?

• Speaking of state politics, Gov. John Kasich gave his State of the State address last night. During the hour-and-a-quarter long speech, Kasich tacked rightward, mostly emphasizing his plan to cut income taxes as a way to encourage economic growth. The speech is an important moment for Kasich as he seeks a larger spotlight. Kasich’s been traveling and fundraising in connection with his bid for the Republican Party nomination for the 2016 presidential election. Kasich’s recent budget proposals, which he again touted in his speech, suggest he’s trying to balance the demands of the Republican party’s right wing — cut taxes to the bone, ease regulations on businesses — with a need to stay viable in a general election by appearing to be a compassionate conservative who cares about the plight of the poor, education funding and so forth. It makes sense that Kasich would emphasize the more conservative elements of his plan in his address last night — the yearly oratory is traditionally aimed at the state legislature, which is dominated by rightward-leaning Republicans. Those lawmakers don’t seem super-enthused by Kasich’s plans, however, balking at tax increases on cigarettes and oil drilling, for instance.  One last note on Kasich’s big speech — he awarded the Governor’s Courage Award to Cincinnatian Lauren Hill, the Mt. Saint Joseph student and basketball player who is fighting an inoperable brain tumor.

• Finally, I generally like the New York Times. They often do fantastic work. But this piece today about downtown Cincinnati’s resurgence following the 2001 civil unrest is mystifying to me. First, there are about a million things that made Cincinnati sluggish and grim before and after the unrest, including many systemic issues that haunted and continue to haunt the city specifically and others endemic to a lot of other urban areas. There are about a million other things that have happened since the unrest that have made the city’s center, and many other downtowns, take off. Tying the two things together while saying that memories of the unrest are “fading” (probably not true) seems to miss a number of things. The article doesn’t mention the city’s pervasive poverty problem, the fact we’re at the bottom of the list in America for infant mortality, the fact that its police force (30 percent black) still doesn’t match the demographics of the city (which is 45 percent black). It barely glances at the issue of gentrification, a problem many say is accelerating in the urban core and a subject that has been hugely divisive over the past decade. Anyway. That’s my media criticism for the day.

Tweet at me (@nswartsell) or give me an e-mail (nswartsell@citybeat.com) if I bummed you out hating on the Bengals, or if you feel the way I do about the team's blinging new big screens.

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<![CDATA[Beyond Idol Chatter: Life After the Show Begins]]>

While Jess Lamb’s American Idol journey may be over, the show is still very much a part of her everyday life. Fans of the show know that the performers often leverage their appearances into work on other projects, such as backup singing or working with national acts in collaborations. It is a process that takes a great deal of time and effort but there is another aspect of being an Idol contestant (current and former) that many fans may not consider — namely, keeping up with the social media explosion that coincides with debuting on the show. It’s a deluge of activity that, initially, can’t be adequately prepared for and it’s one that Lamb experienced firsthand.

“At first, after my audition aired, my sites couldn’t keep up. My stuff was literally shut down,” Lamb explains.

As a local artist, Lamb was used to receiving a friend request on sites like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr or Instagram fairly often. She relied (and still does rely) on social media for the majority of her publicity regarding upcoming shows and releases. But after her premiere, the number and frequency ballooned in a very short period of time. Furthermore, friend requests from friends of friends or local fans morphed into a nationwide fan base that searched Lamb out on her social media outlets.

“It’s crazy that I can make a post about a song and get 90 likes and in two days see hundreds of streams,” Lamb says. “It’s actually reaching people who are friends of mine because they want to hear the music, not because they’re interested in the scene. They’re literally curious about what I’m doing — they want to hear more.”

But this influx of attention has heightened Lamb’s time on said social media, simply so she can keep up with all of the activity across her accounts, while still trying to maintain a public presence and keeping her fans up to date with her myriad projects. In fact, Lamb has had to cut back on the time she spends at her 9-5 job so she can answer fan requests and emails in between interviews, studio work and live performances.

It’s been a dramatic transition for Lamb who, before Idol, rarely used her social media for any personal or professional purpose. In fact, it was her fiancé who initially showed her the value of using social media to self-promote. Social media activity actually lines up with Lamb’s well established indie sensibilities. She takes pride in having a control over her public output, whether that be an Instagram photo or uploading a new song onto iTunes.

“I still own all the songs, I’m not going to get slapped on the wrist for releasing songs because I’m not releasing for a label —it’s still mine, it’s on me. If I fail, I’m the one filing bankruptcy. If I succeed, I get to hire more people,” Lamb says.

She also leverages her public output to help other artists that she works with as well. For example, many of her fans have seen clips of Lamb’s work with local Electronica act Black Signal or marveled at her unique jewelry and clothing, much of which comes from local boutique Lulu White. Lamb has been repeatedly asked about her collaborations and takes great pains to make sure that her partners get the recognition they deserve. In doing so, she is able to shine a light on not just projects that she is personally a part of, but also projects that she is a personal fan of, showing her fans another aspect of her personality and artistic output.

In many ways, keeping up with her social media has become another job for Lamb, requiring large amounts of time and thought to be put into its upkeep. But it’s a job she enjoys doing and one that she has no intention of passing off to anyone else. 

“I would prefer to spend my time doing the social media stuff, I really do enjoy it. It helps me to come out of my shell when I’m sitting behind the computer,” Lamb says.

For her fans this is great news, because they can be assured that anything they see coming from Lamb online is actually coming from her and not a hired gun. It’s a genuine correspondence, which in today’s pop music world is a rarity.


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<![CDATA[This Week's Dining Events and Cooking Classes (2/25-3/4)]]>
A list of cooking classes, dining events and alcohol parties taking place this week. Warning: Cooking classes frequently sell out.

WEDNESDAY FEB. 25 
Hone Your Knife Skills — Learn to properly care for and hold a knife. 6-8 p.m. $60. The Learning Kitchen, 7659 Cox Lane, West Chester, thelearningkitchen.com

Taste of the World Food Tour — Take a guided foodie tour of Ohio’s oldest public market, Findlay Market. Includes stops and tastings at six merchants. 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Wednesdays; 3-4:30 p.m. Saturdays. $20. Meets at Daisy Mae’s Market at Findlay Market, 1801 Race St., Over-the-Rhine, cincinnatifoodtours.com.

Wine Tasting and Food Pairing at 20 Brix — Featuring wines from California vintner Row 11. 6:30 p.m. $55-$70. 101 Main St., Milford, 20brix.com.

Sweet and Savory Young Chef’s Kitchen — The Northside Farmers Market hosts this class for kids ages 7-10. Kids learn to cook with local products, meet farmers, learn new skills and take home recipes. 4:45-6 p.m. $3. Northside Farmers Market, 4222 Hamilton Ave., Northside, northsidefm.org.

Burger and Beer Wednesdays — A burger and a pint for $10. 9:30 p.m.-midnight. Fifty West Brewing Company, 7668 Wooster Pike, Mariemont, fiftywestbrew.com.

Cincinnati E.A.T.S. at Enoteca Emilia — Cincinnati E.A.T.S. (Epicureans About Town Society) head to Enoteca Emilia for an evening of cocktails, socializing, food and mingling to benefit the Freestore Foodbank. 7:30 p.m. $45. 2038 Madison Road, O’Bryonville, cincinnati.com/cincinnatieats/index.shtml

Wine Walk on the Levee  — Take a walk around Newport on the Levee and sample red and white wines and light hors d’oeuvres. 6-10 p.m. $40; $35 advance. Newport on the Levee, Newport, Ky., newportonthelevee.com

THURSDAY FEB. 26 
One Pot Wonders — Prepare an entire meal using only one pot. You’ll make chicken pot pie soup and a pasta. 6-8 p.m. $60. The Learning Kitchen, 7659 Cox Lane, West Chester, thelearningkitchen.com.

All About Chicken Lunch and Learn — Ilene Ross (CityBeat dining writer) leads this class on preparing chicken: stock, soup, roast, taquitos and chickena dn biscuits. 11 a.m.-1 p.m. $40. Cooks’Wares, 11344 Montgomery Road, Harper’s Point, cookswaresonline.com.

Tap That Thursday — Tapping new rare kegs every week. Chef Michael Shields creates specialty hot dogs to pair with the latest brew. 5 p.m. BrewRiver GastroPub at 2062 Riverside Drive, East End, brewrivergastropub.com

FRIDAY FEB. 27 
Winter Passport to Wine & Beer Tasting — Features tastings of more than 25 ales, porters and wines from around the world. 7-9:30 p.m. $29.95; $16.95 designated driver. Mill Race Banquet Center, 1515 W. Sharon Road, Winton Woods, greatparks.org.

Cold Nights and Warm Spirits — This fundraiser for Ault Park is a whiskey tasting event, featuring more than 40 different whiskeys. 6:30-10 p.m. $30; $40 day of. Tickets include seven tastings. Ault Park, 3600 Observatory Ave., Hyde Park, aultparkac.org.

Street to Plate Pop-Up Dinner — Daveed’s hosts this pop-up dinner with eight small plates and two glasses of wine. 6:30 p.m. $65. Daveed’s, 934 Hatch St., Mount Adams, 513-683-2665.

Fundamentals of Pairing Wine and Food — This class has multiple tasting courses paired with assorted wines to evaluate how various components, flavors and textures can result in a perfect match. 6:30 p.m. $85. Midwest Culinary Institute at Cincinnati State, 3520 Central Parkway, Clifton, culinary.cincinnatistate.edu

Warped Wing Beer Dinner — Five courses prepared by the Golden Lamb chef Josh House, paired with beers from the Warped Wing Brewing Company. 7 p.m. $50. Golden Lamb, 27 S. Broadway St., Lebanon, goldenlamb.com

SATURDAY FEB. 28 
Sushi Workshop for Parents and Kids — Chef Jamie will teach you the basics of sushi. Learn how to prepare sushi rice, Ponzu and Teriyaki sauces, and complete a variety of sushi rolls. For ages 10 and older. 10 a.m.-1 p.m. $95; each additional family member $40. Midwest Culinary Institute at Cincinnati State, 3520 Central Parkway, Clifton, culinary.cincinnatistate.edu.

Quick and Easy: Pizza — Learn to make pizza at home. Noon-1 p.m. $20. Cooks’Wares, 11344 Montgomery Road, Harper’s Point, cookswaresonline.com.

Vegan Pressure Cooking — Vegan cook and author of Vegan Pressure Cooking: Beans, Grains and One-Pot Meals in Minutes JL Fields introduces the world of plant-based pressure cooking. $20. Park + Vine, 1202 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, parkandvine.com.

Bier and Wine Tasting — The Donauschwaben Society hosts an American vs. European wine and beer tasting. Also featuring a stein shuffle, silent auction, barrel of spirits raffle and golf ball drop. 6-11 p.m. $35; $30 advance. Donauschwaben Haus, 4290 Dry Ridge Road, Colerain, cincydonau.com.

German Bier Dinner — At Mecklenburg Gardens with the Ziniznnati Bierband and Wiedemann Bier. 6-9 p.m. $25. 302 E. University Ave., Corryville, mecklenburgs.net.

Great Parks Dinner Series — Tonight it’s an adventure dinner with the theme “Kissing Kilimanjaro.” Dinner includes a buffet with prime rib, chicken, lasagna and assorted sides. 6:30 p.m. $29.95. Mill Race Banquet Center, 1515 W. Sharon Road, Winton Woods, greatparks.org

SUNDAY MARCH 1
Ohio Winter Food Festival — Previously known as Taste of Northern Cincinnati. A food festival featuring more than 30 restaurants. Noon-4 p.m. $20; $18 advance. Sharonville Convention Center, 11355 Chester Road, Sharonville, sharonvillechamber.com.

TUESDAY MARCH 3
National Pancake Day — All IHOPs in Greater Cincinnati are offering a free short stack of buttermilk pancakes to benefit Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, Shriners Hospitals for Children and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. 7 a.m.-10 p.m. ihop.com

A Plethora of Potatoes — Slice, dice, bake or fry a variety of types of potatoes. 6-8:30 p.m. $50. Jungle Jim’s, 5440 Dixie Highway, Fairfield, junglejims.com.

WEDNESDAY MARCH 4
Bier Dinner: Bockfest Kickoff — A kickoff party with Alpen Echos and Schoenling Bock. 6- 9 p.m. $25. Mecklenburg Gardens, 302 E. University Ave., Corryville, mecklenburgs.net.

Wine Dinner at Via Vite — Five courses from chef Cristian Pietoso paired with five wines from Agricola Tamburini. 7 p.m. $65. Via Vite, 520 Vine St., Downtown, viaviterestaurant.com.

Find more dining events here.

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<![CDATA[Hip Hop for the Children]]>

Last year, Cincinnati Hip Hop artist MC Till (aka Adam Hayden) did the unexpected and released The Neighborhood, an amazing album that brilliantly fused Jazz with Hip Hop rhymes. This year, Hayden is working on another delightful musical curveball — a Hip Hop-centric album (available on vinyl) and book project for children titled The Corner

The seeds of the project were planted several years ago when his friend, graphic designer/videographer/rapper Vernard Fields, who has worked over a decade with special needs children in the Cincinnati Public Schools system, mentioned to Hayden that he wanted to make a Hip Hop album for kids. In 2012, while Hayden was working as an assistant CPS teacher, he discovered that by rapping some children’s poetry, he quickly and easily captured the attention of the first grade class in which he was in charge. Recalling Fields orginal suggestion, Hayden got back in touch with him and the pair worked out some material and presented it to an even younger audience (pre-schoolers), where they were again a big hit. Hayden and Fields then teamed up with illustrator Charlie Padgett to create the visuals for The Corner


The high-quality book and album will be made available as hard copies and digitally (an app and website are also in the works) and the trio hopes that schools will be interested in using their project in the classroom. The Kickstarter perks offered for the campaign  for The Corner include having bundles sent to specific teachers and schools (there’s even an accompanying study guide for teachers). 


The ambitious project won’t be cheap to produce; the three artists are currently aiming for more than $48,000 in their Kickstarter campaign. If you’d like to contribute and/or check out the project, click here or on the video below.



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<![CDATA[Morning News and Stuff]]>

Hey all, here’s the news this morning.

Have you ever thought there should be more bars downtown? I hadn’t really thought about it before, but then I’m not a huge bar person. 3CDC, on the other hand, has and would like the city to take steps to increase the number of liquor licenses in two specific areas downtown. One, which would be called the Downtown West Community Entertainment District, would be near the convention center and Fountain Square, and another, called Downtown East, would  encompass the rest of downtown. Designating an area a community entertainment district makes it eligible for more liquor licenses from the state.

Currently, Cincinnati is maxed out, but the proposed scheme would add up to 21 new licenses in the two districts. Ten other neighborhoods in the city have this designation, including Over-the-Rhine, Price Hill and CUF. 3CDC would control all liquor licenses granted to the western district under the plan, which has the support of a majority of council and Mayor John Cranley. Supporters of the plan say it will attract more residents to the districts as well as increase tax revenue. Council looks to vote on the measure soon.

• A local man has filed a lawsuit against LA Fitness after he claims he was prohibited from praying in the locker room of the chain’s Oakley location. Mohamed Fall, a Muslim, worked out at the gym on a regular basis for more than a year. After his workouts, he would stand with his eyes closed in an empty corner of the locker room and pray without speaking.  Recently, three LA Fitness employees approached him while he was praying and told him he had to stop and that he should not pray in the locker room again. Fall says he was afraid he would be kicked out if he did not comply.

• Hamilton County Commissioners have officially signaled they will not be pursuing a plan to move the Hamilton County morgue and crime lab to a currently vacant hospital in Mount Airy that Mercy Health offered to donate to the county. While the building would be cost-free, the build out necessary to move the morgue, crime lab and other offices there is cost-prohibitive, commissioners have said. They’ve estimated it could cost as much as $100 million to retrofit the building. The decision comes as the county’s morgue and crime lab continue to sound alarms about their current cramped and outdated workspace.

• Legislation that would move the embattled Brent Spence Bridge replacement project another step toward reality is expected to pass in the Kentucky State House today. The bill would allow the state to use a public-private partnership to fund the project, specifically through tolling on the bridge. Officials in both states have struggled to find the necessary $2.6 billion to fund the bridge replacement project. Opponents of the current plan proposed by Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear say the project doesn’t need to cost that much, and that tolling will represent a huge burden on businesses and workers in both states. Northern Kentucky politicians and activists have been especially adamant about preventing tolling on the bridge.

• A petition drive to get legal weed on the November ballot in Ohio suffered a blow yesterday when Attorney General Mike DeWine rejected summary language for the petition. DeWine had several quibbles with the details, and lack thereof, in a summary of the proposed ballot language filed with his office by ResponsibleOhio. That group wants to put a state constitutional amendment on the ballot that would create 10 marijuana grow sites in the state controlled by the group’s investors. The proposal would make marijuana legal to sell with a license, and anyone over the age of 21 could purchase it. Ohioans would also be allowed to grow a small amount of the drug at home, a change in position from the group’s original proposal. The group has until July to collect 300,000 signatures and file the petition with the secretary of state. DeWine and other statewide Republican officials have been vocal opponents of the idea, saying that it will increase drug use and that it constitutes a state-run monopoly. Ohio voters passed a similar constitutional amendment allowing four casinos in the state in 2009.

• On a somewhat related note, recreational weed became legal in Alaska today. I used to think I would never move to Alaska because IT GETS BELOW ZERO there, but, well... It’s also legal in Colorado and Washington state and will become legal in Oregon in July and in Washington D.C. later this week. 

• Veterans Affairs head and former P&G president Bob McDonald is drawing some criticism after he made a claim that he  once served in special forces. McDonald is a veteran who attained the rank of captain in the U.S. Army and attended Ranger training school. But he did not actually serve with the elite force. He told a homeless veteran in L.A. during a point-in-time count of that city's homeless population last month that he did serve in the special forces, however, a claim that has caused controversy. McDonald has apologized for the statement, saying it was a mistake.

That does it for your news wrap-up today. Tweet at your boy (@nswartsell) or send me a good old fashioned email at nswartsell@citybeat.com. Things I'm keen to get your thoughts on this week: news tips (of course), interesting parts of the city for an urban photography buff (me) and recommendations on cool sneakers (I'm due for a new pair).

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<![CDATA[I Just Can't Get Enough…Oscars ]]>

Neil Patrick Harris hosted the 87th Oscars Sunday night. Let’s talk about it!

Having hosted multiple Emmy and Tony award shows in the past, quadruple-threat NPH (he sings, dances, acts and does magic) was well suited — cue Barney Stinson high-five — to the task. He did in fact sing, dance, act and do magic all while poking fun at the nominees, recreating significant movie moments and ad-libbing on the fly. Great job, NPH!

As far as the night’s trends, there were a few:

Using the acceptance speech as a bigger platform

While some folks stick to the traditional “Thank God, the Academy and my manager” speech, others used the time in the spotlight to address other issues. This is nothing new — Marlon Brando famously boycotted the 1973 Academy Awards for Hollywood’s treatment of Native Americans, arranging for Sacheen Littlefeather to attend in his behalf and decline the Best Actor award (for The Godfather).

This year’s acceptance speech shout-outs ranged from appreciating parents (J.K. Simmons) and supporting ecological sanitation and women’s rights (Patricia Arquette) to empowering the LGBTQ community (Graham Moore) and discussing immigration (Alejandro González Iñarritu).

Play someone with a disease, win awards

Again, this trend is far from new. The Academy — and audiences — love to see an actor transform, and portraying someone with a mental or physical condition can certainly do the trick. It’s not a surefire way to win an Oscar — just ask poor Leonardo DiCaprio (What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, The Aviator) — but the Oscars have looked favorably on roles like this in the past. And present: Eddie Redmayne won Best Actor for his portrayal of Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything; Julianne Moore was awarded Best Actress for her role as a woman with early-onset Alzheimer’s in Still Alice.

Ladies in White

Whiteness wasn’t just the hilarious subject of NPH’s first joke in the monologue (see below), it was also a prominent dress color for many attendees, nominees and performers. Patricia Arquette, Reese Witherspoon, Carmen Ejogo, Marion Cotillard, Lupita Nyong’o, Julianne Moore, Lady Gaga, Kerry Washington, Nicole Kidman and others all rocked white, channeling the snow that many of those not in L.A. were knee-deep in.



Now for a play-by-play recap of the event.

Neil Patrick Harris opened the show with a theatrical song, but not before making a joke about celebrating the “best and the whitest” – err, brightest film stars.


I like how the Oscars always start with the supporting actor award to get people excited, only to spend the following hour busting out all the technical awards and best picture nominee previews.

Best Supporting Actor
Ethan Hawke, Boyhood
Edward Norton, Birdman
J.K. Simmons, Whiplash
Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher
Robert Duvall, The Judge

Yay! Simmons has been in the acting game a long time and killed it in Whiplash. Totally deserved.He used the time to thoughtfully and thoroughly thank his wife, kids and parents and urged viewers to do the same. “Call your mom. Call your dad.”

Adam Levine continues to take over the world/every television program. He performed a song from a movie he was in (???).

Costume Design
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Inherent Vice
Into the Woods
Maleficent
Mr. Turner

Makeup and Hairstyling
Foxcatcher
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Guardians of the Galaxy

Makeup, hair and costume design awards went to the visually delightful The Grand Budapest Hotel. Costume designers always wear the best stuff, obviously Exhibit A: Milena Canonero’s sequined pants.

Oscar lobby boys officially became weird when they held Channing Tatum's hand down the stairs.

Best Foreign Film
Ida
Tangerines
Leviathan
Timbuktu
Wild Tales

I love director Pawel Pawlikowski’s style — he just talked though the Oscars’ STFU Music Cue until it finally stopped playing! All bets are off now that we know the truth: Just. Keep. Talking.

The (not nominated) Lego Movie had its moment in the sun with an over-the-top performance of “Everything is Awesome.”


Best Live Action Short
Aya
Boogaloo and Graham
Butter Lamp (La Lamp au Beurre de Yak)
Parvaneh
The Phone Call

Best Documentary Short
Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1

Joanna
Our Curse
The Reaper (La Parka)
White Earth

Sound Mixing
American Sniper
Birdman
Interstellar
Unbroken
Whiplash

NPH recreated Birdman undies scene:


Sound Editing
American Sniper
Birdman
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
Interstellar
Unbroken

Jared Leto showed up in Dumb and Dumber cosplay to present Best Supporting Actress; he also had a heavenly moment.



Best Supporting Actress
Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
Emma Stone, Birdman
Meryl Streep, Into the Woods
Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game
Laura Dern, Wild

Yay again! The Boyhood actress had this one in the bag. During her speech, Arquette promoted the organization GiveLove and gave a call to action to all the country’s mothers.


Visual Effects
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Guardians of the Galaxy

Interstellar

X-men: Days of Future Past

Best Animated Short
The Bigger Picture
The Dam Keeper
Feast
Me and My Moulton
A Single Life

Feast director Patrick Osborne is a Cincinnati native and gave us a little shout-out.

Best Animated Feature
How to Train Your Dragon 2
Big Hero 6
The Boxtrolls
Song of the Sea
The Tale of the Princess Kaguya

Star T.J. Miller (Silicon Valley) was literally in the last row of the theater, but still managed to get the camera's attention as he celebrated in the nosebleed seats.

Production Design
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
Interstellar
Into the Woods
Mr. Turner

Best Cinematography
Birdman
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Ida
Mr. Turner
Unbroken

Film Editing
American Sniper
Boyhood
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
Whiplash

Idina Menzel finally got her revenge on Glom Gazingo John Travolta.

Yet he still managed to act like a fucking weirdo.

Best Documentary Feature
Citizenfour
Finding Vivian Maier
Last Days in Vietnam
The Salt of the Earth
Virunga

Best Original Song
“Glory” (Selma)
“Everything Is Awesome” (The Lego Movie)
“Grateful” (Beyond the Lights)
“I’m Not Gonna Miss You” (Glen Campbell … I’ll Be Me)
“Lost Stars” (Begin Again)

John Legend and Common won this right after giving a powerful performance of the song.

Best Original Score
Alexandre Desplat, The Imitation Game
Alexandre Desplat, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Jóhann Jóhannsson, The Theory of Everything
Hans Zimmer, Interstellar
Gary Yershon, Mr. Turner

Lady Gaga gave the most “normal” — for lack of a better word — performance of her career with a tribute to The Sound of Music, proving that beyond the meat dresses and famous fiancés and 9-inch heelless platform monstrosities, Gaga is a talented entertainer.

Best Original Screenplay
Birdman
Boyhood
Foxcatcher
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Nightcrawler

Best Adapted Screenplay
American Sniper
The Imitation Game
Inherent Vice
The Theory of Everything
Whiplash

In his acceptance speech, director Graham Moore revealed he tried to kill himself as a teen because he felt different. “Stay weird. Stay different,” he encouraged.

Best Director
Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Richard Linklater, Boyhood
Alejandro González Iñarritu, Birdman
Bennet Miller, Foxcatcher
Morten Tyldum, The Imitation Game

Best Actor
Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game
Michael Keaton, Birdman
Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything
Steve Carell, Foxcatcher
Bradley Cooper, American Sniper

Best Actress
Reese Witherspoon, Wild
Julianne Moore, Still Alice
Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything
Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl
Marion Cotillard, Two Days, One Night

Best Picture
American Sniper
Birdman
Boyhood
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
Selma
The Theory of Everything
Whiplash

Iñarritu dedicated the award to, among others, Mexicans and immigrants.

While I was rooting for Boyhood (a movie I will probably never stop talking about and encouraging people to see), I’d be remiss not to say Birdman deserved all the accolades it received. Overall, many of the year’s best films got some deserved recognition on a night that was entertaining for movie makers and lovers alike. Also, did this year's show break the record for tighty whitie references?

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<![CDATA[FotoFocus Lecture to Feature Roe Ethridge]]>

The FotoFocus Lecture and Visiting Artist Series at Cincinnati Art Museum will feature photographer Roe Ethridge on March 25 at 7 p.m. 

According to FotoFocus, Ethridge — who works in both commercial and fine art photography — draws upon the descriptive power of photography and the ease with which it can be accessed, duplicated and recombined. He is considered a post-Modernist. 

His work has been shown in such venues as MOMA/PS1, London's Barbican Center, Carnegie Museum of Art Boston's Institute of Contemporary Art, the 2008 Whitney Biennial (2008); and the Museum of Modern Art. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize.

His presentation at the museum is free and reservations are not required, though parking for non-museum members is $4. More info here.

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<![CDATA[Playhouse Announces World Premieres and Other Works for 2015-2016]]>

I don’t pay much attention to Groundhog Day for signs of spring, and Reds Opening Day is way too late to celebrate the promise of warmer weather. My key indicator for when spring is just around the corner is when Cincinnati-area theaters start announcing their upcoming seasons. (In fact, Cincinnati Landmark Productions was the first out of the gate a few weeks back; more about that in a moment.) But this evening’s big news is rundown of shows to be presented on the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park’s two stages, the Robert S. Marx Theater and the Shelterhouse.

As Blake Robison enters his fourth season as the Playhouse’s artistic director, he says he does not approach a season in a thematic way. “Our priorities continue to be new works, culturally diverse works and family-friendly works.” He’s include several of each in the Playhouse’s 2015-2016 season, the Tony Award-winning regional theater’s 56th.

In particular, Robison has slated two world-premiere comedies, Native Gardens, a hilarious tale of clashing neighbors by Karen Zacarías, whose Book Club Play was a big hit for the Mount Adams theater two seasons ago, and The Revolutionists, an irreverent, girl-powered fantasia set during the French Revolution and written by one of America’s best emerging playwrights, Lauren Gunderson. (Know Theatre staged Toil and Trouble in 2013, and her 2014 script I and You won the American Theatre Critics Association’s 2014 Steinberg Prize.) In fact, girl-power has clearly arrived at the Playhouse: Half of the season’s productions are works by women. 

In the family-friendly category, Robison has selected two shows based on classic novels: the musical version of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden and a stage adaptation of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, the 1960 Pulitzer Prize winning novel that’s been much in the news recently with the announcement that a prior version of the story will be published later this year. The creators of the memorable show Fly — about the legendary Tuskegee Airmen — will return with Satchel Paige and the Kansas City Swing, their new Jazz-infused drama focused on African-American sports legend. Robison will also stage a captivating drama, Mad River Rising, set on an Ohio farm at the time of the horrendous floods of 1936.

Here’s a chronological rundown of what’s in store, with dates a few more details.

THE SECRET GARDEN, with book and lyrics by Marsha Norman and music by Lucy Simon. The show features Norman’s Tony Award-winning script, adapted from Frances Hodgson Burnett’s classic novel. It’s the story of Mary Lennox, orphaned at age 10, and sent from India to live with her aloof uncle in his foreboding English manor. There she discovers the locked-away secrets of an abandoned garden. It’s going to be staged by Marcia Millgrom Dodge, a Tony Award winner who staged Cabaret for the Playhouse in 2013. Robison says that this is the kind of musically complex show that is “what the Playhouse does.” Sept. 5-Oct. 3, 2015 on the Robert S. Marx Mainstage. 

SEX WITH STRANGERS by Laura Eason. Playwright Eason has been one of the writers behind Netflix’s engaging series, House of Cards, staring Kevin Spacey. Robison tells me he’s wanted to stage this provocative, sexy and funny show since its 2011 debut at Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre because of its “intergenerational appeal,” but he had to wait until it had its Broadway debut last year. Associate Artist KJ Sanchez will stage this show that explores what happens when private lives become public domain as a famous blogger finds himself snowbound with a talented but unknown novelist. They’re attracted to each other, but envious, too. Sept. 26-Oct. 25, 2015 in the Thompson Shelterhouse.

MAD RIVER RISING by Dana Yeaton. The playwright is an acquaintance of Robison’s, and this 1998 work debuted in Vermont when Robison worked at a theater there. An 85-year-old man escapes from a nursing home and hides out in his family’s barn. As a boy, he saw his family’s home wash away and now “progress” is threatening to destroy the farm again. The story slips back and forth between past and present, and the production, which Robison will stage features music by a singer/songwriter also from Vermont. Robison calls the drama “poetic, poignant and utterly captivating.” Oct. 17-Nov. 14, 2015 on the Robert S. Marx Mainstage.

LOW DOWN DIRTY BLUES by Randal Myler and Dan Wheetman. For the holiday season on the Thompson Shelterhouse stage, the Playhouse will present a revue with musicians gathered for an after-hours jam session where they swap stories and play nearly two dozen tunes they love by Muddy Waters, Ma Rainey, Sophie Tucker, Howlin’ Wolf, Pearl Bailey and more. Myler was the creative force behind the Playhouse’s popular production of Love, Janis (about Janis Joplin) in 2005 as well as Hank Williams: Lost Highway in 2012, and he’ll be in town to stage this one, too. Nov. 7-Dec. 20, 2015.

For the 25th consecutive season, the Playhouse will present A CHRISTMAS CAROL Nov. 25-Dec. 30, 2015 on the Robert S. Marx Mainstage. I’ve seen it for most all of those years, and I never grow tired of Howard Dallin’s excellent adaptation. It uses 29 actors, many of them local professionals, and features veteran Bruce Cromer as the miserly Scrooge (it’s his 11th year in the role). Michael Evan Haney, who has staged the production every year since 1992 will return, too. The show, by the way is not part of any subscription package, but subscribers are eligible for discounts and early buying opportunities.

NATIVE GARDENS by Karen Zacarías. 2016 kicks off with a world premiere by the playwright whose Book Club Play charmed Playhouse audiences in 2013. Her new script is about how friendly neighbors become feuding enemies when their gardens and fences don’t quite align. One couple is Hispanic while the other is Anglo, and their disagreements escalate into an all-out war of taste, class, privilege and entitlement with hilarious results. Robison will stage this one, as he did her previous Playhouse show. Jan. 23-Feb. 21, 2016 on the Roberts S. Marx Mainstage. 

THE REVOLUTIONISTS by Lauren Gunderson. As noted, Gunderson is a rising star in the theater world — and Robison has scheduled her new script to overlap for a few weeks with Zacarías’s show, resulting in simultaneous world premieres by women playwrights. In Gunderson’s new script, at the height of the French Revolution, four historic characters — playwright Olympe De Gouges, assassin Charlotte Corday, activist Angelle Ogé and former queen Marie Antoinette — conspire to escape the extremist forces swirling around them. Eleanor Holdridge from Catholic University in Washington, D.C., who has been working closely with Gunderson to develop the script, will stage this fantasy about how we change the world. Feb. 6-March 6, 2016, in the Thompson Shelterhouse.

 The Revolutionists

TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD by Harper Lee (adapted by Christopher Sergel). Set in Depression-era Alabama, it’s about precocious tomboy Scout and her brother Jem during a life-changing summer when their father, Atticus, a small-town lawyer, defends a black man accused of a crime he didn’t commit. The Playhouse was one of the first theaters to stage Sergel’s adaptation in 1993; it’s a slightly different version (with more roles and a different narrator) than the one, also by Sergel, presented by Cincinnati Shakespeare Company in 2012. The Playhouse’s newest artistic associate, Eric Ting, is slated to direct this one. March 5-April 3, 2016, on the Robert S. Marx Mainstage.

MOTHERS AND SONS by Terrence McNally. Another artistic associate, Timothy Douglas, will stage this show, which was a 2014 Tony nominee the year’s best play on Broadway. McNally, who has written more than 30 plays and musicals (including the Tony Award-winning Love! Valour! Compassion!) has created a drama about change, reconciliation and what it means to be a family. A gay couple have a happy life with their 6-year-old child until the mother of a former lover makes a surprise visit to their Manhattan home, two decades years after her son’s untimely death. No play by McNally has been presented at the Playhouse since 1990, so this exploration of the complexities of life that gay men face is a welcome addition to the Playhouse’s repertoire. March 19-April 17, 2016, in the Thompson Shelterhouse.

SATCHEL PAIGE AND THE KANSAS CITY SWING by Trey Ellis and Ricardo Khan. This new play focuses on the 1947 Negro Leagues when pitcher Satchel Paige was the king of baseball, despite his advancing age. But Jackie Robinson’s meteoric rise to fame overshadowed Paige who found himself hemmed in by many barriers. Ellis and Khan’s story of the Tuskegee Airmen, Fly!, used a tap dancer as part of the storytelling, and this one will use a Jazz musician who interacts with the characters in a similar vein. April 23-May 21, 2016, on the Robert S. Marx Mainstage.

BAD DATES by Theresa Rebeck. In 2005 and 2006 this play by Cincinnati born-and-bred playwright Rebeck was a big hit locally and nationally; the comedy was, in fact, one of the most produced plays in America for two years. A middle-aged woman and single mom who manages a restaurant and loves shoes, decides to start dating again. She talks and we listen while she gets ready for one dreadful date after another. Then a turn of events makes life all the more interesting. Originally presented on the Marx stage, this revival will happen in the Thompson Shelterhouse; Michael Haney, who staged it a decade ago, will return to make Cincinnatians laugh again. April 30-June 12, 2016. 

For subscription information: 513-421-3888 or http://www.cincyplay.com.

Cincinnati Landmark Productions has a lot to offer, too

Cincinnati Landmark Productions is growing, complementing its productions at the Covedale Center for the Performing Arts with a new venue, the Warsaw Federal Incline Theater. A month or so ago artistic director Tim Perrino laid out more than a dozen productions that will be happening during 2015-2016.

“We’ve created distinct seasons of exciting show titles that our audiences will absolutely love,” he said at the time. “The Covedale season will represent the legacy of our company, while the Incline will be an expansion of our programming. Together, they deepen the impact of Cincinnati Landmark Productions in the communities we call home.” Audiences have flocked to the Covedale (4990 Glenway Avenue) in recent years, leading to an expansion of runs from three to four weeks as annual attendance grew from less than 14,000 in 2003 to more than 37,000 in 2014. Perrino hopes for similar success at the Incline Theater (801 Matson Place, East Price Hill).

This summer the Incline will offer three “summer classics” — somewhat in the vein of shows that Cincinnati Landmark once presented on the Showboat Majestic. They are Mel Brooks’ hilarious showbiz spoof, The Producers (June 3-21); 1776 (July 8-26), the story of America’s patriotic heritage by Sherman Edwards and Peter Stone; and Dolly Parton’s 9 to 5 (August 12-30), the story of women in an office who take administration into their own hands.

The Covedale will offer a “Marquee Series,” a half-dozen productions between September and May. On the schedule are classically entertaining musicals and comedies — A Chorus Line (Sept. 3-27), the story of a dance audition process for a Broadway show; Fox on the Fairway, a comedy by Ken Ludwig (author of Lend Me a Tenor); Mary Poppins (Nov. 27-Dec. 20), a perfect storybook musical for the holidays; Neil Simon’s Chapter Two (Jan. 21-Feb. 14, 2016), a laugh-infused tale about getting back into the dating game; She Loves Me (March 10-April 3, 2016), from the creators of Fiddler on the Roof, a Tony Award Winner from 1964 about two shop clerks who don’t see eye to eye but unwittingly become romantic pen pals; and Brigadoon (April 28-May 22, 2016) by Lerner and Loewe (the guys who created My Fair Lady), the story of a town in Scotland that that vanishes only to reappear once every 100 years.

While those shows are happening on Glenway Avenue, the energetic folks at Cincinnati Landmark have mapped out a more mature set of shows for the Incline Theater, starting with William Mastrisimone’s Extremities (Sept. 30-Oct. 18), about a woman who turns the tables on a would-be rapist with complicated results. Subsequent productions will be Jonathan Larson’s groundbreaking, Tony Award-winning musical Rent (Dec. 2-20) about impoverished artists trying to survive in New York City; Avenue Q (Feb. 17-March 6, 2016), the hilarious musical featuring puppets that’s about a neighborhood quite a few blocks from Sesame Street — it deals with adult issues, but it’s funny and heartwarming; and another searing drama, David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross (April 6-24, 2016), about the lives of four desperate real estate agents in Chicago who are willing to do anything to win.

Seasons like these are big undertakings for this ambitious theatrical organization. With a new 220-seat Incline adding to the 385-seat Covedale, we can expect a lot of Cincinnatians will be heading west for these enhanced theater choices. 

For subscription information: 513-241-6550 or http://cincinnatilandmarkproductions.com.

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<![CDATA[Collective Espresso to Man New CAC Cafe]]> The Zaha Hadid-designed Contemporary Arts Center's Kaplan Hall Lobby is currently undergoing an estimated $1.1 million renovation to make the space more welcoming to visitors. The goal of the renovated lobby, which was designed by local design and architecture firm FRCH Design Worldwide, will be to engage visitors through an updated lounge space, cafe and bar, relocated welcome desk and more carefully curated gift shop. 

And the CAC has just announced that Collective Espresso will be manning the aforementioned cafe space. Owners Dustin Miller and Dave Hart have signed on to bring their expertly crafted coffees to the center, along with a menu of breakfast, lunch and evening treats. The new space, Collective CAC, will open just mere months after the duo's second Collective Espresso location opened in Northside. Collective CAC, which will seat 48, will be open during lobby hours: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday-Sunday; 7 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Tuesday; 7 a.m.-9 p.m. Wednesday-Friday. 

Rendering of the cafe from FRCH

"Our approach to coffee is really quite simple," say Miller and Hart in a recent press release. "We use the best, quality sourced ingredients, and do our best to simply and beautifully prepare them. There is beauty in the traditional espresso drinks, beauty in steamed milk poured into expertly extracted espresso. Our approach to food will be in the same vein: using the best ingredients and time honored skills in the kitchen to produce beautifully simple dishes."

"Everybody here at the CAC loves their coffee and the process they engage to make one of the city's best cups," says CAC Director Raphaela Platow in the same release. "The care they take to prepare their offerings is very similar to how we think about our own work of extraordinary artistic experiences that are carefully put together and executed."

The new Kaplan Hall Lobby will be unveiled on March 13 with a members-only reception, and will be open to the public starting March 14. For more information, visit contemporaryartscenter.org.

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<![CDATA[Morning News and Stuff]]>

Good morning y’all. I’m fresh off my epic, hour-long alpine adventure, also known as my walk to work. Did you wonder what happened to all the snow that had been on the roadways as you were driving leisurely to work this morning? It's now piled in mountains on the sidewalk by city snowplows. Thanks guys. I do have to say a city worker in a Bobcat drove by yesterday while I was digging my lady friend’s car out of the snow. He looped back around and with three or four quick maneuvers did what would have taken me 20 minutes with a shovel. Driving one of those things is an art, and I have met its Picasso.

Enough grumbling. It’s news time. Mayor John Cranley is, as the kids say, stacking cash (note: kids these days don’t actually say that). Cranley collected more than $250,000 at a Feb. 17 fundraiser for his re-election campaign. That may be the biggest haul ever for a city candidate, according to Cranley’s campaign, which is all the more impressive because Cranley doesn’t face reelection for almost two years. A ton of big names were in attendance at the event, and it seems like the city’s movers and shakers are backing the mayor.

Reds owner Bob Castellini was a host. So were Western and Southern CEO John Barrett, two members of the Lindner family and PACs from Kroger and Procter & Gamble. Cranley’s already got his eye on the election, having hired his campaign manager and setting a fundraising goal of $2 million. That’s a huge sum of money, some of which could go to help out allies in their City Council campaigns, though Cranley has said he won’t be doing that, focusing the cash on his own bid. Another possibility: Is Cranley setting such ambitious goals as a demonstration of his fundraising abilities so he can set up a bid for a higher office down the road?

• The federal government has said it will give $110 million to build a new facility in Cincinnati for the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown has been instrumental in securing the funding for the building, which will replace two aging facilities in the city, the Robert A. Taft Laboratory in the East End and the Alice Hamilton Laboratory in Pleasant Ridge. The new facility will consolidate them, making work easier for the federal employees there.

The Center for Disease Control oversees NIOSH. The agency researches ways to prevent injury and illness caused by occupational hazards, making recommendations to other federal agencies. The Cincinnati labs employ about 550 people. It’s not clear where the new labs will be located, but the Uptown Consortium, which represents major businesses and institutions in the Clifton, CUF, Corryville and Avondale neighborhoods including UC and several hospitals, is making a big pull to get the 14-acre site in that area. Other neighborhoods looking to get the facility include Bond Hill.

• Cincinnati anti-abortion activist Dr. John Wilke has died. He was 89. Wilke founded Greater Cincinnati Right to Life and Ohio Right to Life in the 1970s with his wife Barbara as debate swirled about a woman’s right to choose. The two groups have been incredibly active in the decades since as the issue has continued to be one of the country’s most intense and divisive. Wilke also served as head of national and international pro-life groups. Among Wilke’s more controversial assertions: that the stress caused by rape made it very unlikely a woman being raped would become pregnant. Other doctors and experts have since challenged that assertion, calling it bunk science and a cruel perspective on a terrible experience. Last month, Wilke released an autobiography about his time as a pro-life activist.

• A lawsuit over decades-old corpse abuse at the Hamilton County Morgue is in court today. The case involves the behavior of former morgue employee Kenneth Douglass, who was convicted six years ago of sexually abusing three bodies while he worked at the morgue. The families of the women whose corpses were abused have sued the county, charging that it should have known Douglass was engaging in illegal behavior at the facility and fired him. County officials and the estates of the former county coroner and supervisor, who the family also named in the suit and who have both since died, say they couldn’t have known Douglass would engage in behavior so abnormal and unpredictable.

• Has Kentucky held the wrong man in prison for 27 years? Some evidence suggests that might be the case. The Kentucky Innocence Project has been working on the case of William Virgil, who was convicted for the 1987 killing of psychiatric nurse Retha Welch in Newport. Virgil was convicted based on witness testimony, though some of those witnesses have since been discredited. Meanwhile, DNA evidence tested since the trial suggests Virgil may not have committed the crime. His DNA wasn’t found at the crime scene, Virgil’s advocates point out, and hers was not found on his clothing. The state is waiting for more tests to be done, but the Kentucky Innocence Project holds that there isn’t enough evidence against Virgil to hold him in prison.

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<![CDATA[Leftovers: What We Ate This Weekend]]>
Each week CityBeat staffers and dining writers tell you what they ate this weekend. We're not always proud — or trendy — but we definitely spend at least some money on food.

Jac Kern: I stocked up on groceries Friday night in preparation for a weekend full of snow, pajamas and movies. Pizza-making is a perfect snow day activity, so that's what I made for dinner on Saturday. My two go-tos are classic pepperoni and a fig and prosciutto inspired by A Tavola. The local eatery's version includes fontina, parmigiano and balsamic arugula; I used the fresh mozzarella and spinach I had on hand, plus fig jam and prosciutto. It's no A Tavola — my oven pales in comparison to their Italian wood-burning beauty — but it was tasty and easily consumed in the aforementioned pajamas. Also: Plenty of popcorn during the Oscars!

Ilene Ross:
I feel as if I did nothing but eat out this weekend, but given what I do for a living, this should come as no surprise. On Friday night I attended the ninth annual Art of Food at The Carnegie in Covington. This event, a combination of art and food, never disappoints; it’s a feast for the eyes as well as the taste buds. Local artist Pam Kravetz put on quite a spectacular show — the theme was Candy Land — with even chef Jean-Robert de Cavel getting into the act with a starring role as Lord Licorice. Some of the more outstanding dishes were The Littlefield’s house-cured and smoked bacon with house pickles; Wunderbar’s bacon, spinach, brie and fig jam finger sandwiches; The Rookwood’s Porchetta, with Marksbury Farm pork belly, Beeler's Farm pork cheek rillettes, rosemary-cured lardo, carrot mostardo, shaved celery and red cress; The Sleepy Bee’s flatbread stalactites with Moroccan chicken and date herb chutney; Bouquet Restaurant and Wine Bar’s whipped goat cheese with popcorn, pickled fennel and pear gastrique; and Django Western Taco’s beer-braised pork belly with corn relish, guacamole and corn chips.   

On Saturday my son and I got to try one of O Pie Os latest creations, a honey vinegar pie. Now, that might sound a tad bit strange, but believe me, it’s not. Picture a rich, slightly tangy, not-too-sweet custard filling in a perfectly flaky crust. A little packet of crisp sea salt comes along with the pie so you can sprinkle a bit on top to taste, therefore achieving a nice salty balance. We also dug into an apple pie with rosemary caramel. I have to say that O Pie O’s apple pie is so good, I didn’t care one bit that I forgot to buy ice cream.   

Saturday night I got to be a guinea pig of sorts during a trial run for the staff at chef Jean-Robert de Cavel’s latest restaurant, the soon-to-be-opened Le Bar a Boeuf in The Edgecliff. The restaurant will be opening quite soon and I was overjoyed to be able to participate. While I can’t divulge too many details, I can say that the space is beautiful, the staff — under the watchful eye of hospitality expert Richard Brown — is charming and diligent, and as far as the food, well, you’re in for a real treat.   

I have a good friend who lives in Indianapolis, and her daughter is a Girl Scout. This year was the second time I’ve bought cookies from her and the two have driven in and delivered them to me on a Sunday. It’s also the second time that we’ve met at Maribelle’s eat + drink for brunch to make the cookie drop off. My son and I took them to Maribelle’s for the first time last year and they loved it so much that they specifically requested it again. I don’t blame them. Brunch at Maribelle’s is a crazy good combination of breakfast and lunch foods everyone loves. The four of us had White Bean and Frog Leg Chili; a Pig Tostado (shredded pork, cumin crème, pickled red onion, queso fresco and cilantro); fried cashew butter, jelly and banana sandwiches; a hamburger; some sort of yummy egg dish that I can’t remember the name of; and, of course, bloody mary’s for the adults. Yes, it was a lot of food, and there were leftovers, but for me the best thing about a busy weekend is a Sunday afternoon nap followed by not having to cook. My Oscar watching dinner consisted of Maribelle’s leftovers, Samoas and bourbon.  

Samantha Gellin: I ate a grilled chicken club at Anderson Pub & Grill on Beechmont Avenue, aka APG. Normally I shy away from chicken sandwiches because they tend to turn out dry and tasteless. But I've never been disappointed with the food at APG so I decided to give it a try. It was worth it. So juicy and full of flavor. It's topped with bacon, lettuce, tomato, American cheese, onion, pickle and chipotle mayo. Probably one of the best grilled chicken sandwiches I've had in a long time. If you're on the East Side and you're looking for simple but really satisfying bar food (at decent prices too) this is the place to go.

Anne Mitchell: I've barely left the house since Snowmaggedon began, but luckily we are within slogging distance of several MainStrasse eateries. So Friday night we slushed up to Dee Felice Cafe for cocktails and appetizers. I had the fried oysters with cream sauce, a cup of gumbo, and a delicious Manhattan made by Ron the Awesome Bartender. I may have even had a second, just because even numbers are luckier. On Saturday, we went to Otto's. Their beef short ribs were cozier than a fleece snowsuit, and twice as sexy. I sipped on the Ginger Punch special. I should have deduced, when they said they were trying it out for the menu at their eagerly-anticipated Frida, that it was tequila based. Ole!

Rebecca Sylvester: To pre-game before The Price is Right Live! my husband and I decided to try one of the restaurants in the Horseshoe Casino (where the show was). We weren't wearing elastic waistbands so that ruled out the buffet and we were (luckily) turned away from Margaritaville, which I guess was every other audience members' plan, so we ended up at the fancy option: Jack Binion's Steakhouse. It was easily the quietest place in the casino, even with a live trio playing lounge versions of Nirvana and top 40 songs. The booths look like nap-worthy couches, but we sat at the bar since we were only ordering drinks and snacks. The super exciting part of the menu (for a vegetarian) was The Potato Bar, which listed a few heavily topped baked potatoes, pub fries and a few other potato-based sides. Also a pleasant surprise was the list of salads, all vegetarian friendly and a little more interesting than the standard steakhouse iceberg wedge. The servers were really nice and the wine selection was good. If I'm ever back there and need a place to rest my slot machine arm that is probably the best spot in the building.

Maija Zummo: I went to an Oscar's potluck on Sunday and I was tasked with bringing dessert. Usually I'll make something fruit based — a pie or a cobbler — but my friends wanted chocolate. I'm not a huge fan of brownies or anything really cakey and chocolately, so I made cute little chocolate pot de cremes in bright teal ramekins. I found a super easy recipe that just calls for pouring your hot custard into a blender and then refrigerating it to set versus making a water bath and baking the little things. They turned out really well — I added some vanilla and coffee to the custard mix because I'm fancy like that —  and were super easy. Top them with some homemade whipped cream and they seem much more impressive and hard to make than they actually are.

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<![CDATA[Fish Fry Fridays]]>
You don't have to be religious to reap the benefits of the fish fries of the Lenten season. Area churches, Catholic high schools, Masonic lodges and more are offering up all variety of fried cod and other fish on Fridays, with bonus side dishes like homemade mac and cheese and coleslaw. The fries also frequently try to one-up each other, so expect special additions like Bingo, beer and wine and even costumed characters.

All Saints Catholic Parish
 
Choose from fried cod, grilled salmon, grilled tilapia, cheese pizza, french fries, baked potatoes, sweet potato fries, slaw, tossed salad, applesauce and assorted desserts. Fish tacos back by popular demand. Beer and wine available. 5-7:30 p.m. Fridays. Through March 27. 8939 Montgomery Road, Montgomery, allsaints.cc. 

American Legion Post 318 
Enjoy fried or baked fish, shrimp and chicken nuggets dinners with sides and a beverage included. Soft drinks and alcohol will be available for purchase at the bar. Enjoy this fish fry dining-in, or carry-out. $5-$8. Feb 20, 27, March 6, 13, 20, 27, Apr 3. 

American Legion Post 513 
Enjoy a choice of cod, catfish, fantail shrimp, popcorn shrimp, crab cakes and chicken strips. Dinners include fries, mac and cheese or onion straws and coleslaw. Cupcakes will be served as a dessert. 4:30-7:30 p.m. Fridays. Through April 3. American Legion Post 513, 7947 Hamilton Ave., Mount Healthy, 513-729-0061. 
 
Beechwood High School 
Benefits the Beechwood Band Boosters. This fish fry includes fried fish with choice of bun or rye bread, coleslaw, french fries or mac and cheese. Drinks and desserts available. 5-7:30 p.m. Fridays. Through March 27. 54 Beechwood Road, Fort Mitchell, Ky., 859-620-6317. 

Bishop Fenwick High School 
A fish fry with an added bonus of Monte Carlo. 7-11 p.m. March 7. (Carryout available beginning at 5 p.m.) 4855 State Route 122, Franklin, 513-423-0723. 

Bockfest Fish Fry 
The third annual Old St. Mary's Bockfest fish fry runs along the Bockfest parade route. Enjoy sandwiches, sides and drinks until they're gone. 5 p.m. March 6. 123 E. 13th St., Over-the-Rhine, oldstmarys.org.

Boondockers Fish Fry at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church 
Presented by the Boondockers, choose from a menu of fried fish, baked fish and fried shrimp dinners, you can either dine-in, carry-out or drive-thru. Order a Tommy Boy: fish on a grilled cheese. 5-8 p.m. Fridays. Through March 27. 5876 Veterans Way, Burlington, Ky., 859-689-5010. 

Boy Scout Troop 452 Fish Fry 
Enjoy a choice of main entrée, two sides, dessert and a drink. Papa John's pizza and Frisch's tartar sauce available. Special visit from radio station 94.9 on March 20. Carry-out meals available. The meals will be served by the Scouts at St. Thomas More Church. Fees help the boys earn their summer camp fees. 5-7:30 p.m. Fridays. Through March 27. 7800 Ohio Pike, Withamsville, 513-315-3991, sttmschool.org. 

Boy Scout Troop 271 Fish Fry 
This dine-in or carry-out fish fry is presented by St. Teresa Boy Scout Troop 271 at St. Teresa of Avila Church. Rotating meals throughout Lent such as shrimp and tilapia meals. 4:30-7:30 p.m. Fridays. Through April 3. 1175 Overlook Ave, West Price Hill, 513-282-0840. 

Brown Chapel AME Church 
Fish, Mac and cheese, green beans, coleslaw, bread and a dessert. 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. and 4:30- 7 p.m. Feb. 20, March 6 and March 13. 2804 Alms Place, Walnut Hills, brownchapelamecincinnati.org.

Fort Thomas Masonic Lodge No. 808 
Enjoy fish, ,ac and cheese, and/or fries, coleslaw and tartar sauce. 4-8 p.m. Fridays. Through April 3. 37 N. Fort Thomas Ave, Fort Thomas, Ky., 859-441-1280. 

Germania Society Fish Fry 
The Germanis Society of Cincinnati presents their fish fry with sides including mac and cheese, french fries, coleslaw, collared greens and corn bread. Assorted desserts and beverages are available for purchase. Tea, coffee and lemonade are provided for free. Carry-out and credit card purchases also available.4:30-7:30 p.m. Fridays. Through March 27. 3529 W. Kemper Road, Colerain Township, 513-742-0060. 

Hartzell United Methodist Church 
This all-you-can-eat fish fry has fried Atlantic cod with homemade tartar sauce. Dinners come with sides of homemade mac and cheese, coleslaw, bread and a drink. Also have two-piece grilled chicken breast dinner, shrimp baskets or two-piece cheese pizza dinners. 4-7 p.m. Fridays. Through March 27. 8999 Applewood Drive, Blue Ash, 513-891-8527. 

Knights of Columbus Kehoe Council 
Choose from a menu of fried fish, beer-battered and baked cod, chicken, steak, french fries, mac and cheese, coleslaw, onion rings and fried mushrooms. Desserts and refreshments are available for extra. 4:30-7:30 p.m. Fridays. Through April 3. 828 Elm St., Ludlow, Ky., 859-261-2704. 

Mary, Queen of Heaven Parish 
Enjoy this fish fry as dine-in, carry-out or a drive-thru. Home of the "codfather," expect to see some mafia costumes for photo ops. They use natural cuts of Icelandic cod cooked in cholesterol-free vegetable shortening. Also serves bottled beer. 4-8 p.m. Fridays. Through March 27. 1130 Donaldson Highway, Erlanger, Ky., 859-525-6909.

Nativity Parish Fish Fry
Offering hand-breaded fish fry dinners, with sides like mac and cheese, sweet potato fries, green beans and cole slaw. Beer available. 5:30-7:30 p.m. Fridays. Through March 27. 5935 Pandora Ave., Pleasant Ridge, nativity-cincinnati.org.

Pleasant Run Presbyterian Church 
A menu of fish or chicken nuggets with choices of two sides: mac and cheese, green beans, coleslaw and applesauce. Meal includes bread and a dessert plus a drink of either coffee, iced tea or lemonade. 5-7:30 p.m. Fridays. Through March 20. 11565 Pippin Road, Colerain, 513-825-4544. 

Silver Grove Firefighter Association 
This fish fry benefits the Fire/EMS for Campbell County Fire District 1. 4-7:30 p.m. Fridays. Through April 3. 5011 Four Mile, Silver Grove, Ky., 859-441-6251. 

St. Aloysius Gonzaga Church 
You can carry-out, drive-thru or dine-in choosing from a menu of fried and baked fish, shrimp, pizza, mozzarella sticks, homemade mac and cheese, green beans, coleslaw and homemade desserts. Beer is available for purchase.4:30-7 p.m. Fridays. Through April 3. 4390 Bridgetown Road, Cheviot, saintals.org. 

St. Antoninus Boy Scout Troop 614 
Dine-in, carry-out, or drive-thru with a curb-side pick-up. Choose from a menu of fish sandwiches, jumbo shrimp, grilled salmon, pizza, grilled cheese, homemade soups and homemade desserts plus other side dishes. 5-7 p.m. Fridays. Through April 3. 1500 Linneman Road, Cheviot, 513-922-5400. 

St. Augustine Church 
Enjoy deep fried and baked fish, shrimp, and cheese pizza. There will be a choice of side dishes including french fries, hush puppies, coleslaw and mac and cheese. Desserts available. 4-7 p.m. Fridays. Through April 3. 1839 Euclid Ave., Covington, Ky., 859-431-3943.

St. Barbara Fish Fry 
Enjoy fried fish, baked tilapia, shrimp and cheese pizza. Adult dinners include three sides. You can enjoy your fish fry either by dining in or carrying out. 4:30-8 p.m. Fridays. Through March 27. 4042 Turkeyfoot Road, Erlanger, Ky., 859-371-3100. 

St. John the Evangelist 
Pick from baked or fried fish and shrimp, fish sandwich, cheese pizza, crab cakes, side dishes and dessert. New for 2015 is a kid’s fish stick meal. This fish fry benefits the Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, Campton Mission, Christ Renews His Parish, the West Chester Firefighters and Knights of Columbus. 4:30-8 p.m. Fridays. Through March 27. 7121 Plainfield Road, Deer park, 513-791-3238. 

St. John the Evangelist West Chester 
Choose from fried fish sandwiches, breaded and unbreaded baked fish, shrimp, crab cakes, cheese pizza, mac and cheese, french fries, green beans, coleslaw and applesauce as well as a large selection of desserts. There is even a supervised kids room back. 4:30-8 p.m. Fridays. Through March 27. 9080 Cincinnati-Dayton Road, West Chester, 513-777-6433. 

St. Lawrence Elementary 
Breaded jumbo shrimp, baked salmon, beer-battered or breaded cod, spaghetti with tomato sauce, grilled cheese sandwich or garlic grilled cheese sandwich and pizza bread. 4-7 p.m. Fridays. Through April 3. 1020 Carson Ave., East Price Hill, 513-921-4230 

St. William Fish Fry
A fish fry with weekly live entertainment. The Magnificod Platter features a piece of hand-breaded cod, fries, two hush puppies and coleslaw. Go healthier with baked salmon. Pizza available for kids. Beer and dessert sold separately. 5-8 p.m. Fridays. Through March 27. 4108 W. Eighth St., Delhi, stwilliamfishfry.com.

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<![CDATA[Performance and Time Arts Series Hosts Original Production ]]>

Performance and Time Arts (PTA), a project of Contemporary Dance Theater, is the longest-running performance art showcase in the city, but until this weekend it has never been host to a sing