CityBeat - Blogs http://www.citybeat.com/cincinnati/blogs.engine.php <![CDATA[Stage Door]]>

At this point in the summer you have to look a little harder for theater productions. Most of our local companies are rehearsing for shows to open their 2015-2016 seasons. But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to see, especially if you’d like to enjoy theater in the great outdoors.

Queen City Flash’s performances of The Complete Tom, from Mark Twain’s tales about Tom Sawyer, are both outside-the-box and — literally — outside, popping up in different area parks for each evening their final romp with Tom Sawyers, Detective, is being presented. In this installment (the fourth of four), Tom and Huck Finn set out to clear a friend implicated in a murder. To catch one of these free performances, you need to reserve a ticket at queencityflash.com. At 4 p.m. on the day of the show, you’ll receive an email with details of the “secret” outdoor location. The production, creatively staged by Bridget Leak, features six actors who play multiple roles using puppets and quick costume changes.

Another outdoor adventure is in store for you if you track down a FREE Shakespeare in the Park performance of a modern-dress staging of Romeo and Juliet this weekend. You’ll find one at Seasongood Pavilion in Eden Park on Friday, another at the McDonald Commons Park Shelter in Madeira on Saturday and a third at Keehner Park in West Chester on Sunday; all performances are at 7 p.m. This series is produced by Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, and it will be toured (as will a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream) to local schools, community centers and other venues through May 2016.

If you prefer to sit in a theater, head to Covington where The Carnegie has a head start on the theater season with its mid-August production: Stephen Sondheim and George Furth’s innovative Company, onstage through Sunday. Even though the show has been around for 45 years, its outside-the-box approach — no beginning-middle-end story, in particular, but rather a central character, Robert, who’s turning 35 but remains disconnected, despite his married friends pushing help toward relationships — seems timely. Although the Carnegie’s actors are a tad young and don’t really feel like the New Yorkers who Furth’s script portrayed, they do a good job with the songs, and Zachary Huffman does a fine job with the central role. Here’s my CityBeat review. It’s onstage through Sunday. Tickets: 859-957-1940

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

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<![CDATA[I Just Can't Get Enough]]> Serena Williams and Drake made out at Sotto. What did you do this weekend?

Serena was in town competing in the Western & Southern Open; Drake came to watch. The two celebrated Serena’s finals win with dinner at Sotto downtown and, apparently, a little mouth-on-mouth action. Drake also supported Serena at Wimbledon earlier this summer. NORMAL.

The brothers Hanson, the objects of my adolescent affection after my JTT phase ended, are now in the beer business. The still-dreamy-to-me trio of Zac, Isaac and Taylor have produced a pale ale appropriately called Mmmhops. It’s not available in Ohio, but you should be able to buy some online next month.

If you’re still following the Fat Jew on Instagram or Twitter, here are some reasons why you should consider cutting that shit off.

Play Cincinnati I-Spy as you watch the trailer for Carol:

I spotted Maury’s Tiny Cove (the restaurant in the very first scene) and various Downtown streets, and those Christmas shop scenes were filmed in Eden Park. The movie is expected to be released Nov. 20.

Do you ever wake up in the middle of the night with pressing questions, like “What ever happened to Rayanne from My So-Called Life?” Well, don’t worry, because A.J. Langer is doing fine — much better than how her iconic ‘90s character probably would have fared (All that sex! Drugs! Wild hair!). In fact, she’s a damn countess. Step aside, LuAnn.

A.J. met British Lord Charles Courtenay in 2002 and they married in 2005. They have two kids. Real-life Rayanne swapped her title of a Lady for that of a Countess when Charles’ father passed away last week, making her husband an Earl. In other words, boring, boring, boring, Rayanne now has a castle. The title includes a 14th-century estate in Exeter, England. Get it, Rayanne!

Wanna attend the Gloss book release party that Marc Jacobs is hosting next month during New York Fashion Week? Well, first you have to be fabulous enough to get an invite — but that’s not all. The invite features a lengthy, descriptive dress code that includes "fur coats over lingerie," "Grace Jones butch realness," "riding in on a white horse" (literally?) and sequins — three times. Read my wedding dress code the full description here

Highly specific talent: This woman sounds exactly like Beyoncé. If Beyoncé did commercial voiceovers.

Rumors about a Sons of Anarchy spinoff were circulating before the seven-season show even concluded last year. The idea was a prequel focusing on SAMCRO’s origins with Jax’s dad John Teller and the rest of the Redwood Original. But FX is instead moving forward with a spinoff about the Mayans, a rival motorcycle club.

If you can’t wait for another Kurt Sutter series, tune into The Bastard Executioner, premiering on FX Sept. 15. The medieval war drama stars Sons’ Gemma (Katey Sagal, Sutter’s wife), True Blood’s Bill (Stephen Moyer) and, naturally, the multihyphenate Sutter as a prosthetic-covered character called “The Dark Mute.”

And speaking of spinoffs, Fear the Walking Dead, a companion series to the similarly-titled The Walking Dead, is now on AMC. See this week’s TV column to read more about the new series and other shows to watch this week.

If you find yourself in the Chicago area and need a new gig, this Craigslist gem is searching for a tour assistant for a cat circus. MUST LOVE CATS! ]]>
<![CDATA[Morning News and Stuff]]>

Happy Thursday, Cincy! Better yet, tomorrow's Friday. So here's today's headlines to make the week pass a little quicker. 

• Mayor John Cranley vetoed a Nov. 3 ballot-bound charter yesterday that would allow city council to meet in secret about certain topics, including property sales, the city manager's performance and some economic development deals. The charter amendment ballot initiative was passed by council on Monday with a vote of 6-3, with Councilmembers P.G. Sittenfeld, Charlie Winburn and Christopher Smitherman voting against it. Despite Cranley's veto, the amendment isn't dead. The mayor admits it could very well end up back on the ballot as council appears to have the six votes needed to override his veto. The mayor said he vetoed the amendment allowing Council to use executive session for transparency reasons. The special executive sessions would have been restricted to items like assessing the city manager's performance, buying or selling property, disputes possibly ending up in court, security arrangements and items required to be kept secret by law.  

• Have trouble paying your bills on time? So does the city of Cincinnati! A city audit from January 2014 through July of this year found that taxpayers spent an additional $130,000 from late fees on the city's electrical bills. Taxpayers have been shelling out just under $7,000 on average per month for late fees for the first half of 2015. The city previously escaped Duke Energy's late fees as the company didn't charge them to the the government until a crackdown in 2014. City Manager Harry Black says a fix has reportedly come out of the City's Innovation Lab, but Councilman Kevin Flynn has expressed anger over the fees saying it shouldn't have taken a year to catch. 

Ian James, executive director of ResponsibleOhio, the political action committee trying to legalize marijuana, has accused Secretary of State Jon Husted of intentionally putting confusing language on its Nov. 3 ballot initiative. James accused Husted, who opposes the legalization, of using the word "monopoly," which he calls a "loaded term" on the ballot to confuse voters. The term has been floating around the group's initiative a lot, which would enact a constitutional amendment to legalize the plant, but restrict its growth to just 10 commercial farms in the state owned by the PAC's investors. State initiative 3 as of now will read, “Grants a monopoly for the commercial production and sale of marijuana for recreational and medicinal purposes.” ResponsibleOhio says it's actually unfair to call it a monopoly when the amendment would allow for 1,150 retail stores that are not operated by investors.

In other weed news, gazing upon ResponsibleOhio's new mascot, Buddie, might make you feel like you've already smoked a couple Js. He has a marijuana bud for a head. Just gonna leave it right here for you to check out. The mascot has caused controversy because critics say he/she/it is too cartoonish and could be viewed as an attempt to entice kids to smoke weed.

• A Columbus charter school has abruptly closed its doors just after the start of the school year leaving 300 students stranded. FCI Academy was suspended by its Toledo sponsor, Education Service Center of Lake Erie West, for mismanagement, but apparently things had been going downhill for the charter school for awhile. The Columbus Dispatch reports that it found the school was keeping afloat for so long by deferring debt, borrowing money and not paying federal withholding and Medicare taxes. The school also received Fs from the state report card on things like graduation rates, gap closing and overall value-added. But despite these setbacks, the school is still determined to keep fighting, according to a note left on the school's locked door in front of its deserted parking lot on Wednesday. In the summer of 2014, FCI Academy laid off 17 employees, and a 2013 state audit showed a $700,000 operating deficit.  

• Former Ohio state deputy treasurer Amer Ahmed has been extradited by Pakistan to the U.S. to begin serving a 15 year sentence for bribery, wire fraud and money laundering. Amer was sentenced to prison by U.S. District Judge Michael H. Watson of Columbus late last year. He and three co-conspirators were ordered to pay $3.2 million to the feds. He plead guilty to federal charges in 2013 then fled to Pakistan using fake travel documents. Ahmed served under Democratic state Treasurer Kevin L. Boyce until his defeat in 2010. During his tenure, he devised a plan to direct Ohio state brokerage business to a Canton securities broker. 

• One thing I noticed when I moved to Cincinnati is that people here love their chili.  Cincinnatians flock to the nearest Skyline after a long night of drinking the way the rest of the country flocks to IHOP. So with that, I am truly sorry to report the passing of the final surviving founder of Skyline, William Nicholas “Bill” Lambrinides on Tuesday at the age of 87. Lambrinides worked with his father, Nicolas, a Greek immigrant, and his two brothers, Lambert, Jim, Christie and John to open the first restaurant in 1949. The store has since grown to 110 locations to bring late-night happiness to folks in four states.

That's it for today! Email me with story tips!

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

Hey all. Here’s a brief rundown of the news this morning.

So, do you want to see your name written really big on something attention-grabbing and controversial that will zoom around downtown most of the day and night? Do you have hundreds of thousands of dollars you’re not quite sure what to do with? Here’s an idea: buy some naming rights to the streetcar. Officials with the newly-created Cincinnati Street Railway, a nonprofit promoting the streetcar, are reaching out to marketing firms to help design advertising packages for corporate sponsors for the project. Similar marketing pushes in other cities with streetcars have netted millions in advertising revenues to go toward operation of the transit systems. Locally, some officials say the naming rights could net as much as $250,000 a year, though others say the project’s controversial nature makes it uncertain if big local corporations will want to put their names on it. A suggestion: maybe reach out to deep-pocketed, eccentric megalomaniacs? Perhaps Donald Trump will want to raise his profile here in town next year? What could be better than seeing The Donald’s giant face careening toward you on the front of a streetcar as you spend time in OTR just before the election? Though, hm, come to think of it, streetcar supporters may not be his target demographic.

• I’m not sure this is much news to anyone, but I’m going to say it anyway. We have an amazing library system here in Hamilton County. From its Maker Space to its innovative programming and events to the sheer amount of material available to check out, we have a rare thing here. And the numbers show it. Last year, The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County was the fifth-busiest library in the country, checking out more than 18 million items, according to data from the Public Library Association. Now, granted, at least a couple hundred of these check-outs were me borrowing the library’s DVD copies of the Bill and Ted movies, but still. Pretty impressive. The library moved up a spot on the ranking from 2013, when it was the sixth-busiest in the country. More than 600,000 people have library cards with the system. Not bad for the country’s 28th-biggest metropolitan area.

• Local faith leaders and activists are demanding more community involvement in changes the University of Cincinnati is undertaking in the wake of the Samuel DuBose shooting. Dubose was killed last month by UC police officer Ray Tensing after a routine traffic stop. Since that time, the university has vowed reform of its police department, including adjustments to off-campus patrols and joining in on the city’s collaborative agreement, which Cincinnati Police Department already abides by. That agreement was drawn up after the police shooting death of Timothy Thomas in 2001 caused days of civil unrest in Cincinnati. Activists and faith leaders are asking that UC compensate the DuBose family for his death, as well as submit to an external investigation into the school’s policing practices. A group including community activist Iris Roley, University of Cincinnati activist Alexander Shelton, Bishop Bobby Hilton, Pastor KZ Smith and others met with UC officials yesterday in a private meeting later described by Shelton as “tense” at times. UC President Santa Ono and newly-hired Vice President of Safety and Reform Robin Engel were among representatives for the university.

• Damn. Here’s the Columbus Dispatch throwing down about charter school transparency. In an editorial published today, the paper slams state officials for not releasing documents about the Ohio Board of Education’s omission of some data on poor-performing online charter schools in the state. The failure to include that data in reports about charter school performance led to an inflated evaluation for at least one organization that sponsors charters in the state. ODE official David Hansen was responsible for that data collection. He resigned following revelations of the omissions. His wife, incidentally, heads Gov. John Kasich’s presidential campaign. He’s a big, big supporter of charters in the state. The Dispatch, along with a number of other publications, has filed numerous public records requests for documents about the decision to withhold the less-than-flattering charter data, according to the editorial. And now they’re getting tired of waiting, it seems.

“If state Superintendent of Education Richard Ross is not covering up something embarrassing or illegal at the Ohio Department of Education, his recent actions aren’t helping his credibility,” the piece begins.

• Let’s circle back around to Donald Trump, since he’s leading national GOP presidential primary polls, and it seems like the whole world is kinda revolving around his circus of a campaign at the moment. The Donald  may well have taken it upon himself to offend Spanish-speaking Americans as much as possible lately, which is a questionable campaign strategy at best. In the past, Trump hasn’t done himself any favors with this large portion of the American population, describing Mexicans immigrants as "rapists" and criminals. But in true Trump fashion, he’s taken it a step further. Yesterday, he had Spanish-language news station Univision's lead anchor Jorge Ramos physically removed from a news conference for asking a question out of turn. He eventually let Ramos back in, but the exchange was heated, awkward and really just a bad idea all around. The National Association of Hispanic Journalists fired off a statement last night condemning Trump for the confrontation. Spanish-language media has covered Trump more extensively than mainstream media because the leading GOP contender keeps talking about his immigrant plan, which includes building a wall along the southern border and ending birthright citizenship.

That’s it for me. See ya tomorrow.

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<![CDATA[Third Cincinnati-Related Film to Screen at New York Film Festival]]>

The Greater Cincinnati & Northern Kentucky Film Commission — or an enterprising arts-tourism travel agent — might want to look at organizing a charter from here to attend the New York Film Festival from Sept. 25 to Oct. 11.

Previously announced at the fest were two dramatic films shot in Cincinnati — Todd Haynes’ Carol with Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara, and the closing-night world premiere of Don Cheadle’s Miles Ahead, a biopic about Miles Davis.

But another film with strong Cincinnati connections — Troublemakers: The Story of Land Art — has been named one of 12 documentaries to be showcased at the festival. Its screening dates are Oct. 1 and 4.

Its director, James Crump, was photography curator and chief curator at Cincinnati Art Museum from 2008 until resigning in 2013. And its executive producer is Ronnie Sassoon, the Cincinnati-born widow of hairstylist Vidal Sassoon. Crump in 2007 had directed Black, White + Gray, a documentary about the relationships between Robert Mapplethorpe, Sam Wagstaff and Patti Smith.

Among the 11 other documentaries in the fest are Field of Vision: New Episodic Nonfiction by Laura Poitras, whose Citzenfour won an Academy Award this year, and In Jackson Heights, the latest from Frederick Wiseman.

Who knows? There might be others with strong local connections, too.

Here are the Film Festival’s program notes for Troublemakers.

“The titular troublemakers are the New York–based Land (aka Earth) artists of the 1960s and 70s, who walked away from the reproducible and the commodifiable, migrated to the American Southwest, worked with earth and light and seemingly limitless space, and rethought the question of scale and the relationships between artist, landscape, and viewer. Director James Crump (Black White + Gray) has meticulously constructed Troublemakers from interviews (with Germano Celant, Virginia Dwan, and others), photos and footage of Walter De Maria, Michael Heizer, Robert Smithson, Nancy Holt, and Charles Ross at work on their astonishing creations: Heizer’s Double Negative, a 1,500-feet long “line” cut between two canyons on Mormon Mesa in Nevada; Holt’s concrete Sun Tunnels, through each of which the sun appears differently according to the season; De Maria’s The Lightning Field in New Mexico; and Smithson’s Spiral Jetty, built on the Great Salt Lake in Utah. A beautiful tribute to a great moment in art.”

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

Good morning all. Here’s the news today.

Cincinnati City Council yesterday moved along at least one charter amendment proposal, putting it on the November ballot for voters to approve. That amendment would clarify when council can meet in executive session, away from the staring eyes of the public. Ohio state law allows some use of executive session for municipal governments, and the charter amendment proposed would specify limited times when council could get together for discussions behind closed doors. Those include discussions about certain sensitive property transactions, ongoing court cases, security measures for city facilities and personnel, certain information about development deals and some discussions about the city manager’s job.

The Charter Review Committee, a group charged with suggesting changes to the city’s governing document, had suggested four other amendments. At least one of those, a measure that would clarify how long the mayor has to refer legislation to council committees, seems to have died on the vine. While it sounds arcane, the issue has big, contentious implications. The mayor’s ability to hold on to legislation amounts to a so-called “pocket veto,” critics on council claim, or a way for the mayor to effectively kill council actions he doesn’t like. Mayor Mark Mallory used this power more than 200 times during his time as mayor. Cranley is opposed to the amendment, but he also claims that the pocket veto isn’t a real thing. Some council members agree, saying that the mayor clinging on to legislation could be challenged in court. One thing is clear, however: an amendment won’t clear up the issue. Advocates for the measure fell one short of the six council votes needed to put the amendment on the November ballot.  

Other amendments, including one that would give council the power to fire the city manager, are hanging in there and might be considered next week, just short of the deadline to get the proposals on the November ballot.

• In other council news, a new tax levy for parks improvement will also go on the upcoming ballot. The property tax boost of 1 mill would mean that owners of a $100,000 home would pay about $35 extra a year. Council’s vote is somewhat symbolic. Organizers of a petition drive collected enough signatures throughout the city to put the initiative up before voters. If voters approve the measure, it would raise about $5 million a year. About $1.25 million of that would go toward park maintenance. The rest would go to new projects decided by the mayor and the park board. Parks funding has been cut in half in the last decade and a half, Cranley has noted.

• A long-held tradition for Cincinnati parents is over, at least for now. Folks in the Cincinnati Public School district looking to get their kids into magnets like the Fairview German Language School will no longer be able to sign up on a first-come, first-served basis, but instead will be entered into a lottery system. That will eliminate the yearly camp-outs that parents undertake as they wait to sign their children up for those schools. CPS has cited fairness and safety concerns for ending the first-come, first-served practice. Last year’s camp out lasted 16 days. Enrollment for CPS’ high-demand magnet schools has several tiers. First are priority students who already have a sibling attending the school. Then a number of seats are set aside for students whose nearby schools are among the district’s lowest performers, an effort to offer those students a chance at a better education. The rest have been up for grabs. Until now, seat availability was through the first-come, first-served approach. Now, a computer will randomly choose who gets to enroll.

• City officials and business leaders yesterday launched Union Hall, a facility in Over-the-Rhine that is touted as a one stop shop for entrepreneurs looking for help in launching start-ups. The site on Vine Street houses startup incubator The Brandery, Cintrifuse and CincyTech, all of which are aimed at helping get startups off the ground. The historic building, which has been a brewery, night club and speakeasy, will house about 100 employees.

• A former Cincinnati Police captain is appearing in an ad advocating for legalized marijuana. Retired Capt. Howard Rahtz, a member of a marijuana policy task force led by Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters, is seen in the commercials supporting ResponsibleOhio’s legalization effort arguing that the state’s marijuana laws don’t work and that it’s time to reform them. Rahtz touts his time as a Cincinnati police officer, saying he learned a great deal about drug addiction during his service. Opponents of the ResponsibleOhio measure, which would legalize marijuana for anyone over the age of 21, but restrict commercial growth to 10 sites across the state, say they’ll be airing their own commercials. Groups like Ohioans Against Marijuana Monopolies say ResponsibleOhio’s plan amounts to an unfair monopoly that will only benefit the group’s rich investors.

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<![CDATA[Spoonful of Cinema: <i>Straight Outta Compton</i> (Review)]]>

When N.W.A. first arrived, the group was a revelation — a musical explosion of aggressive lyrics and explicit subject matter. When its legendary record Straight Outta Compton dropped 27 years ago, it may very well have marked the inclusion of gangsta rap in the mainstream conscious of pop culture for the first time. The rap group, comprised of Eazy-E, Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, MC Ren and DJ Yella, became the voice of a pissed off generation of street kids who had been subjected to and paid witness to the worst of the War on Drugs, police harassment and brutality and Reaganomics.

So here we are, more than a quarter of a century later, and the story that N.W.A. was telling in 1988 sounds all too similar to the domestic issues we face as a nation today. While Straight Outta Compton the album was current, Straight Outta Compton the film is characterized by a triple balancing act of paying tribute to the godfathers of gangsta, the biopic-necessity of gritty truth-telling and exuding modern relevance.

The film begins before the group comes to exist. Before they become pieces of the world’s most dangerous Hip Hop group, Eazy-E is pocketing stacks of cash (or not, when he gets stiffed) from dope deals and ducking from the police. Ice Cube is venting mightily with a pen and pad, and doing his best not to get beat by local gangsters. Dr. Dre is begrudgingly DJing for an L.A. club that distances its image from what the club owner calls “that gangster bullshit.” Ren is just a small-time MC, and DJ Yella works the club discs with Dre. Eazy wonders how long he could survive in the drug game, Cube is full of rhymes targeted at everything he has to deal with and Dre is escaping into his G-funk production dream world at his mother’s strong disapproval.

As we watch the stories unfold — which primarily revolve around the trio of Eazy, Cube and Dre — we also witness the blossoming of three exceptional young and relatively unknown actors.  Jason Mitchell nails the loose-canon, true gangster attitude of Eazy-E and adds touches of guilt and tinges of pain. O’Shea Jackson Jr., the son of Ice Cube, is surprisingly superb in his first significant acting performance as his father. The resemblance is astoundingly striking — from Jackson Jr.’s appearance to his laugh, voice and smile, there could not have been a better or less conventional choice as to who could play Ice Cube. Corey Hawkins portrays Dr. Dre. It’s a tight race amongst the three to determine which star shines the brightest — not in dissimilar fashion to the icons they emulate — but perhaps Hawkins is the most impressive, if not the most qualified. Hawkins’ experience ranges from playing Shakespeare’s vital Tybalt role in a Broadway production of Romeo and Juliet to being recently named as the actor to take on Heath in The Walking Dead, and his experience and natural talent are both are on full display in Straight Outta Compton. If Hollywood has its head on straight, these three actors can help to close the cringe-worthy diversity gap in the movie industry.

The actors and director F. Gary Gray carry an expansive, sometimes sprawling collaborative script to impressive places in Hip Hop history that were all sparked by N.W.A. From their initial, practically overnight explosion of popularity to the subsequent contract dissatisfaction and departures of Ice Cube and Dr. Dre from the group, the movie becomes something that it may not have intended to be but is rewarding to witness — it serves as a re-telling of West Coast Hip Hop’s rise through the spectrum of N.W.A.

We get a taste of early Hip Hop dis-tracks when Ice Cube leaves for New York City to start his own rap label, Lench Mob. We witness bad contracts from Jerry Heller (Paul Giamatti) and violent intimidation from Suge Knight, which serve as opposite sides to the same coin of Eazy-E’s tragic fall from rap stardom. We watch Dre work out production kinks with Snoop Dogg, the D.O.C. and Tupac.

Straight Outta Compton is a treat for Hip Hop fans, and as a huge fan of N.W.A., Ice Cube and Dr. Dre, I can say that my expectations were easily satisfied and my highest hopes exceeded.  It’s a strange formula for a blockbuster hit. Think about it — a picture produced by the artists (Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, the Eazy-E estate) with the most to gain monetarily from its success shouldn’t be good. It should be a two-hour commercial. But it is good, even though the cast is essentially a collection of unknowns with the insertion of the producer’s son as a lead. But it does work, and it works brilliantly, and I can only hope that Ice Cube’s Cube Vision video production studios aim to make more Hip Hop and street pictures.  

The film works brilliantly on two levels. The first level is at face value — we get to re-witness one of the most —if not the most — exciting moments in Hip Hop. The second level is revealed when you peel back the layers and ask yourself why the story of these kids from Compton in the late ’80s is just as relevant as it was then. The things that they were saying on record, the journalistic qualities unique to Hip Hop (and perhaps Folk music) that showed what life was really like — I don’t think the film is trying to keep those ideas and frustrations bottled up in the era of Reagan and Bush 1. Instead, the film is really about what we face today, how things haven’t changed enough and that if artists don’t feel the responsibility to shine a light on unfortunate circumstances the way that Eazy-E, Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, MC Ren and DJ Yella did, then maybe things never will change. The film is as much a message to the future as it is a reflection of the past. And it’s a whole hell of a lot of fun, too.

Grade: A-

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

Good morning y’all. Hope your weekend was as fantastic as mine was. Yesterday I finally made it down to the Taft Museum to check out their exhibition of Edward Curtis photographs. Curtis spent 30 years in the early part of the 1900s photographing Native American tribes across the West. His work is technically stunning and in some ways, pretty problematic, contributing to some stereotypes and perceptions of Native peoples as a “vanishing race” living bygone lifestyles. The exhibit is interesting— the photographs are beautiful and the underlying questions they bring up are worth wrestling with.

Anyway, this isn’t morning art blabbering, it’s morning news. So let’s talk news, eh? The thing that caught my eye around town today is this story about the former King Records site in Evanston. I’ve been hearing buzz that part of it might be in danger, and turns out that may be true. The owner of one of the buildings at the historic site, which hosted early recording sessions by James Brown and a number of other significant musicians, has applied for a permit to demolish the structure. That’s led to an outcry from historic preservationists, music historians and general boosters for Cincinnati. The city’s planning commission Friday declared the site a local historic landmark, echoing a similar declaration by the city’s Historic Conservation Board. City Council has to give final approval to the designation, which it could do next month. In the meantime, the owner’s demolition permit application is on hold. Will the city be able to save this historic landmark, which could cost up to half a million dollars to stabilize? We’ll see.

• Stressed about pollution? Take a deep breath. Or maybe, uh, don’t. A new report says Cincinnati is among the worst cities in the country when it comes to air quality. Website 24/7 Wall St. analyzed air quality data from the American Lung Association and determined that the Greater Cincinnati metropolitan area is the eighth worst in the country for air pollution. The report compares the area to California’s central valley region, which landed seven cities in the bottom 10 of the air quality list. Like that region, Cincinnati is in a valley and has fairly high traffic volumes. But that’s not the only culprit here: coal plants play a big role in air pollution around Cincinnati, the ALA suggests. Take heart, though. We’re not the only Ohio city on the list. Cleveland came in at number 10 in the most polluted air ranking.

• So there’s a new interchange going in on I-71 into Walnut Hills and Avondale, and the State of Ohio has purchased millions in property near the future on and off ramps. Specifically, the state has spent nearly $4 million on 83 parcels of land around the project. When all is said and done, the state will have purchased 140 pieces of property, officials say. That’s part of a bigger land-buying frenzy in the historically low-income neighborhoods. The $106 million interchange looks likely to change the face of the area around Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. and Reading Road, with new development featuring a proposed tech corridor and other big developments. We first reported on the interchange last year. Stay tuned for more updates on how the development will affect Avondale, Corryville and Walnut Hills.

• Here’s your daily dose of Kasich news: does the Ohio governor and GOP presidential hopeful talk straight on the campaign trail when it comes to Ohio’s economy? Not quite, according to some fact checkers.  A recent Washington Post article dug into some of Kasich’s favorite claims about his role in Ohio’s economic recovery and issued one and two-pinocchio ratings (some shading of the facts and significant omissions/exaggerations, respectively) about his claims. Kasich’s claim that Ohio was “$8 billion in the hole” when he took office, for instance, doesn’t stand up to scrutiny, according to the Post article. The state’s actual budget for the year Kasich took office saw significant revenue increases from an economic recovery that began before Kasich’s term, leading to significantly less shortfall than Kasich’s claim.

• Speaking of Kasich, we live in a world where I can say the following and it’s not just some vulgar joke I would text to my friends but actual (debatable) news: Deez Nuts has endorsed Ohio Gov. John Kasich in the GOP presidential primary. Deez Nuts is the name assumed by a 15-year-old Iowa farm boy who somehow raked in 9 percent of the vote in a recent poll of that primary state. Mr. Nuts has also endorsed U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary. He is of course endorsing himself for the general election.

• Finally, in other GOP primary news, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush was in Ohio recently courting the tea party and the Koch Brothers at the billionaire industrialists' Americans for Prosperity Summit. Bush promised to uphold the staunch conservative values of slashing government spending and you know, making it easier for rich folks to get richer at the summit. The event in Columbus drew a big group of conservative activists as well as a large number of protesters.

That’s it for me today. E-mail me your news tips or tweet at me with, well, whatever you want.

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<![CDATA[Your Weekend Playlist: August Vibes]]>

Old, new, weird or blue – I can’t get enough. 

“Thunder Clatter” – Wild Cub

This hand-clapping, shoe-tapping goodness is by far one of the best new jams I’ve came across, making it impossible to skip when it comes up in my track library. It’s upbeat, it’s joyful, and you’ll find yourself singing the final phrase, “I feel it all in the center of it all, you’re the love of my life — the love of my life” over and over again because it’s so damn catchy. (Not to mention, sweet as a peach.) Wild Club is an American Indie group that defines itself by the brand of '80s-inspired Electro-Pop, with “Thunder Clatter” becoming their most successful track. Listen for yourself and see why.

“My Wrecking Ball” – Ryan Adams

Hands down one of my favorite artists of this lifetime. I first discovered Mr. Adams when I got stranded in Arizona after Cincinnati got hit with the blizzard of the century, and I couldn’t find a flight home. (Not complaining.) I gratefully sat outside in the desert air reading Brain On Fire, in which the author talks about how her best-kept memory was hearing Ryan Adams play. And I soon learned for myself about this man — not only known as a beyond talented musician, but his approach on stage is ridiculously comedic, with a touch of thought and wisdom. “My Wrecking Ball” live at Carnegie Hall is one of my favorite tracks to play. It’s a stunning song filled with so much life, and at the very end he draws a laugh from the audience after dropping his hands onto the keyboard and saying, “I really can’t fucking play this thing at all.”

“Nocturne” – Wild Nothing

I’m starting to notice this bouncy, '80s theme in a lot of contemporary music lately, and this song is perfect example of that exact vibe. It’s a track that’s meant to fade in and out of style, with pops of a deep, deep echoing voice flowing after each verse. Not to mention, the guitar is incredible. Lead singer Jack Tatum’s unique voice and song structure creates a sound that can almost be heard in any setting. I choose Wild Nothing for drives to work, writing at my desk or even when I eat dinner on my couch. No matter what the setting, this song easily fits.

“Drag” – Day Wave

If the artist Day Wave had to go by one phrase, it would read: “I fucked up but I don’t really care.” It’s a quick beat with softly voiced lyrics, giving off the vibe where you want to dance along but also emotionally feed into what they’re saying. Day Wave’s latest track “Drag” is easily heavy on the sounds, and although the lyrics are quick, they’re so simple to catch on to. It’s repetitive without driving you crazy. And sure, it ends before you know it. But that’s all the more reason to play it over again and again and again.

“You Really Got A Hold On Me” – She & Him 

Zooey Deschanel (She) and M Ward (Him) have seen individual success within their own careers, but together they turn out to be a surprisingly perfect duo. “You Really Got A Hold On Me” is one of the best examples of how these two artists compliment one another best as Ward’s voice echoes behind Deschanel’s elegant, classic sound so delicately. This song makes it easy to get swept away into a sway with someone you care for, and them swaying you right back. It’s meant to be her unhealthy yearning for him, and the lyrics go, “You treat me badly…I love you madly.” We’ve all been there…right?

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<![CDATA[Your Weekend To Do List (8/21-8/23)]]>
FRIDAY
EVENT: CINCY BREW HA-HA
If 50 comedians performing over the span of three days doesn’t get you laughing, the annual Cincy Brew Ha-Ha beer and comedy festival has just what you need to give your silly streak a pulse: beer. Lots of it. With two 100-seat beer gardens and plenty of beer booths serving up everything from locals to craft favorites, Brew Ha-Ha plans to satisfy more than 20,000 thirsty and laugh-seeking Tristaters with plenty to drink and an impressive lineup of comics: Headlining Thursday night is Adam Ferrara (Rescue Me, Paul Blart: Mall Cop), Friday night is David Koechner (Anchorman, Anchorman 2) and Saturday night is Brandon T. Jackson (Roll Bounce, Wild ‘N Out with Nick Cannon). You’ll either be laughing your way to a full belly of beer or drinking your way to a day full of laughter. Or both. 5 p.m.-midnight Thursday-Friday; 4 p.m.-midnight Saturday. Free admission; $5 for wristband; $1 beer samples; $5 full servings. Sawyer Point, 705 E. Pete Rose Way, Downtown, cincybrewhaha.com.

San Fermin
Photo: Denny Renshaw
MUSIC: SAN FERMIN
San Fermin’s second album, the recently released Jackrabbit, picks up where its debut left off, delivering lush soundscapes and boy/girl vocal tradeoffs. The Brooklyn-based band’s founder and creative driving force, Ellis Ludwig-Leone, has a thing for conceptual grandeur, and with Jackrabbit he again examines lives, whether human or animal, immersed in high-stakes situations. The jaunty, ebb-and-flow title track finds its central character encouraged to, as delivered by new singer Charlene Kaye, “run for the hills and don’t look back.” The very next song, the lilting “Astronaut,” features vocalist Allen Tate as a stark counterpoint to Kaye’s clean midrange, his deep baritone altering the mood immediately. See San Fermin with Lemon Sky, The Ridges, Sweet & The Sweet Sweets and Orchards Friday on Fountain Square as part of the MidPoint Indie Summer Series. myfountainsquare.com.

EVENT: INDIE CRAFT MARKET
Love shopping local? Love handmade goodies? Head to Fountain Square Friday night for the Indie Craft Market, featuring handmade crafts, work from independent artists and more, plus live music from local Indie bands. Love shopping local? Love handmade goodies? Head to Fountain Square Friday night for the Indie Craft Market, featuring handmade crafts, work from independent artists and more, plus live music from local Indie bands. 5-11 p.m. Friday. Free. Fountain Square, Fifth and Vine streets, Downtown, myfountainsquare.com.

The Magic Lightnin' Boys
Photo: Provided
MUSIC: OHMSTEAD
Ohmstead (founded by and named after late Cincy band The Four Ohms) has been providing an eclectic mix of music in the great outdoors for the past 14 years. This Friday and Saturday, Ohmstead returns at the VFW campground in Franklin, Ohio (9728 Claude-Thomas Road), about 40 miles north of Cincy. Popular local Reggae/Roots/Jam/Rock crew Elementree Livity Project plays both nights. Friday, music kicks off at 3 p.m. with Reggae/Rock band Rockstead, while Hip Hop collective YNO/Treehouse also performs. Touring acts on Friday include Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad and Jahman Brahman. On Saturday, music at Ohmstead begins at 11 a.m. Local acts include Freekbass (who doesn’t play a lot locally), Junya Be, The Magic Lightnin’ Boys, Don’t Fear the Satellites, The Ohms, Souse, Eyeris Wide and The Almighty Get Down. Glostik Willy and Tropidelic are some of the national/regional artists performing Saturday. Presale tickets are no longer available. There will be general admission tickets available at the gates starting Friday. Visit ohmstead.net for the full schedule, ticket and camping info and more. 

Chase Public’s Mike Fleisch and Scott Holzman promote “empathy through creative practice.”
Photo: Jesse Fox
EVENT: RESPONSE PROJECT
For Response Projects, creatives prepare and share a 10-minute response to a work of art. The popular event’s third installment takes place Aug. 21 and will spotlight Cathy Wagner, Matt McAllister, Mark Mendoza, Megan Hague, Loraine Wible and Holzman, who will reflect on the poetry of Sappho.“In general, I’m an advocate for all things Chase Public and creative endeavors grounded in empathy and community,” Daniel says. “It’s been a great opportunity to share my work and my perspective, but to also hear the work of others, to be inspired by others, to meet new people and collectively share ideas and ambitions.”She says she loves these events for their “connectiveness” — they break down any sort of separation between performer and audience. They create a collective effort and exchange between everyone. Chase Public’s third Response Project takes place Friday at its space in Northside (1569 Chase Ave., Suite 4). More info: chasepublic.org

'A Hundred Minus One Day'
Photo: Provided
ONSTAGE: A HUNDRED MINUS ONE DAY
For two summers, John Leo Muething has presented Stone on a Walk, his low-budget theater company offering “short, sweet and cheap” shows. His goal is for you to walk away after an hour’s performance saying, “That was sweet.” 2015’s final production is the U.S. premiere of a touching comedy by Idgie Beau, an Edinburgh Fringe hit in 2013 about youthful innocence and living in the moment. The title — A Hundred Minus One Day — is from A.A. Milne: “If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day, so I never have to live without you.”  Through Aug. 29. $10. Simple Space, 16 E. 13th St., Over-the-Rhine, stoneonarock.com.

SATURDAY
EVENT: SHAKE IT UP COCKTAIL FESTIVAL
Jungle Jim’s is a wonderland of exotic food and booze, and their new Shake It Up Cocktail Festival celebrates the end of summer with just that. Say goodbye to tan lines, pool parties and flip-flops with expertly crafted cocktails and mixed drinks, and imbibe an atmosphere full of flair bartenders, expert mixologists and more. 6:30-9:30 p.m. Saturday. $40; $15 non-drinker. Jungle Jim’s, 5440 Dixie Highway, Fairfield, junglejims.com.

EVENT: BEST FRIENDS AND BREWS
A night filled with everyone’s two favorite things: furry friends and beer. This tasting event supports the SPCA of Cincinnati, featuring food from local restaurants, music by the Comet Bluegrass All-Stars and a raffle. Last year’s event sold out, so get your tickets quick. 7-11 p.m. Saturday. $25-$125. SPCA Cincinnati Sharonville Shelter, 11900 Conrey Road, scpacincinnati.org/events.  

Bonsai Show and Competition
Photo: via Facebook
EVENT: BONSAI SHOW AND COMPETITION
The Bonsai Society of Greater Cincinnati descends on Krohn Conservatory for its annual weekend-long fall bonsai show and competition, Nature in Miniature. The group, one of the oldest bonsai societies in America, aims to foster the study and appreciation of bonsai (the Japanese artform of growing miniature trees in containers) and related arts, and this juried exhibit gives viewers a chance to see hundreds of bonsai in various stages of development. In addition to the plants themselves, guests will also learn about techniques for creating and caring for bonsai. Food trucks, a beer tent and live music round out the weekend. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. $4; $2 children. Krohn Conservatory, 1501 Eden Park Drive, Eden Park, cincinnatibonsai.com, cincinnatiparks.com/krohn

BootYard Bash
Photo: Will Hoge
EVENT: BOOTYARD BASH
OTR goes Country for Washington Park’s inaugural BootYard Bash. The park transforms into a real-live honky tonk with free Country music, Western-themed games, craft beer and a variety of other family-friendly events to get your boots stomping. Bands include Jeremy Pinnell, The Black Lillies, Carter Winter and headliner Will Hoge at 8:30 p.m. 3-10 p.m. Saturday. Free. Washington Park, 1230 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, washingtonpark.org.

 
EVENT: AN AFTERNOON WITH THE BEER BARONS
Spring Grove Cemetery and Arboretum has been the final resting place of many a famous Cincinnatian, from lawyers and politicians to our beloved beer barons. And Spring Grove celebrates our malty past with an afternoon dedicated to exploring the graves and stories of famous brewers through docent-led motor-coach cemetery tours and a party in the Rose Garden. Enjoy history with a side of beer and food as beer-brewing establishments manned by non-dead people, like representatives from Christian Moerlein, MadTree, Rhinegeist, Rivertown, Blank Slate and more, provide attendees with samples of their most popular and most unique beers. Food will be provided by Funky’s and Queen City Sisters, and Buffalo Ridge Jazz Band will put on musical entertainment. 4-7 p.m. Saturday. $40.  Spring Grove Cemetery and Arboretum, 4521 Spring Grove Ave., springgrove.org.  

Publicist UK
Photo: Scott Colby
MUSIC: PUBLICIST UK
The anticipated new bar/music venue Northside Yacht Club (in the space formerly occupied by Mayday) is officially open. This weekend would be the perfect time to check it out, as heavy, compelling Post Punk newcomers Publicist UK (featuring members of Revocation, Municipal Waste and many other notable bands) brings the tour for its debut album Forgive Yourself (released this Friday) to town to help break in the club. 8 p.m. Saturday. $5. Northside Yacht Club, 4227 Spring Grove Ave., Northside, facebook.com/northsideyachtclub

Comedian Tyrone Hawkins
Photo: Provided
COMEDY: TYRONE HAWKINS
Comedian Tyrone Hawkins has been bouncing back and forth between Seattle and his hometown of Cincinnati for a few years. He placed third in the 2012 Seattle International Comedy Competition, which led to a string of headlining dates throughout the West, and he’s currently working on a new hour. “I’m incorporating music now with a keyboard I have on stage,” he says. “I hit a couple of piano bars to try some of the new stuff out.” He’s also done some TV work for his old friends, the Herbert Brothers. They were the duo that created the million dollar-winning Doritos “Crash the Super Bowl” ad in 2007. Showtimes Thursday-Sunday. $8-$14. Go Bananas, 8410 Market Place Lane, Montgomery, gobananascomedy.com.  

SUNDAY
Cincy Summer Streets
Photo: via Facebook
EVENT: CINCY SUMMER STREETS
Now in its second year, Cincy Summer Streets blocks off a neighborhood’s main drag to cars and traffic for a day of biking, skateboarding, yoga, cornhole, Frisbee, chalk art, giant Jenga and much, much more. This weekend, Cincy Summer Streets is taking over Northside, blocking off Hamilton Avenue between Pullan and Spring Grove avenues, so kids and adults alike can mix, mingle and play in the street, while enjoying the last few weeks of summer. Expect surprises from local vendors. 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday. Free. Hamilton Avenue, Northside, cincysummerstreets.org.

Bookworks XVI
Photo: Provided
ART: BOOKWORKS XVI ARTISTS WALK-THROUGH
In an age dominated by digital media, the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, in conjunction with the Cincinnati Book Arts Society (CBAS), hosts an annual Bookworks exhibition in the atrium of the downtown public library featuring the work of local area book artists to remind readers of the tangible and artistic qualities of books. On Sunday, participating artists will be on hand to discuss their handmade books with visitors to the library exhibitions, the 16th-annual Bookworks and the Keith Kuhn Memorial Exhibit. Twenty-eight artists participated, including Judy Dominic, April Foster, Lou Kroner, Sally Murray and Carole Winters. The exhibition runs until Sept. 7. 2 p.m. Sunday. Free. Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County Main Branch, Main Atrium, 800 Vine St., Downtown, cincinnatibookarts.org.

'Company'
Photo: Mikki Schaffner
ONSTAGE: COMPANY
The Carnegie is staging Stephen Sondheim and George Furth’s musical that broke the mold back in 1970, opening a new direction with a concept about friends advising a 35-year-old bachelor about the virtues and challenges of marriage. The show offers a series of vignettes rather than a continuous story that starts and finishes. It was a surprise hit in the day, and it continues to be a show that connects with audiences after more than four decades. Memorable tunes include “Being Alive,” “Sorry-Grateful” and “Getting Married Today.” Through Aug. 30. $18-$25. The Carnegie, 1028 Scott Blvd., Covington, Ky., 859-957-1940, thecarnegie.com.

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

Good morning all. Here’s the news today as we gear up for what I’m sure will be a rad weekend.

How's that crime plan going so far? At the beginning of the summer, Cincinnati Police Chief Jeffrey Blackwell was asked by City Manager Harry Black to draft a 90-day plan to reduce the number of shootings in the city, which has seen a major uptick in gun crime (though not murders or other violent crime) since this time last year. The plan to deploy more officers in busy places and spots where kids play and to create curfew centers for young people, was delayed at first by the June 19 shooting of officer Sonny Kim, but parts of it were implemented July 1. So… has it been working?

Blackwell touts CPD’s efforts at keeping crime rates from rising during a complicated summer full of major events like the MLB All-Star Game, outside incidents like the UC police shooting death of Samuel DuBose and the increasing challenges associated with the region’s heroin epidemic.

Shootings this summer have been up 30 percent over last year, and other violent crimes are roughly the same as past years. But that’s not necessarily the whole story. Taking a longer look at crime data, it’s apparent that the city’s recent uptick falls in line with past crime trends. The 291 shootings that have occurred so far this year are identical to the number for this time in 2013. Looking at data over a three-year period, violent crime is down nine percent.

What’s more, many cities across the country have experience much greater upticks in crime this year, including big surges in Baltimore, New York, Chicago and Philadelphia. Mayor John Cranley has said that’s not good enough, however, and has vowed to continue reviewing data and strategies to bring crime down. Blackwell has also offered further steps, including keeping the city’s recreation centers open later so teens have places to go after they’re out of school. A $50,000 grant from private donors will help pay rec center staff during those extended hours.

Opposition is coalescing against Mayor Cranley’s recent proposal to raise property taxes to pay for a $100 million parks revamp. That measure, which will be on the November ballot, would include big changes to Mount Airy Forest on the city’s West Side and Burnet Woods in Clifton. Those changes don’t sit well with opponents, who say proposals they’ve seen so far remove far too many trees and change the character of the urban woods entirely. Mayor Cranley has said that early plans for the parks were preliminary and not final designs. One showed a restaurant in Burnet Woods, for instance, a detail that has been removed since.

Opponents of the plan, including local attorney Tim Mara, also object to the way in which the plan would go forward. Mara says he’s part of a “diverse” coalition opposed to the park plan, which will be launching a formal campaign in the coming weeks. Mara’s complaint: Should the ballot initiative pass, it would vest power over changes to the park with the mayor and the park board, giving Cincinnati City Council no say in what would be done to the parks. Cranley has vowed that any changes to the parks will go through a long public review and comment process. A number of major businesses have backed the plan, including United Dairy Farmers and Kroger.

The property tax boost would raise about $5 million a year, money that would then be used to issue bonds for the rest of the cost of the proposed projects. About a quarter of the money raised would also be banked for future park maintenance and upkeep.

• There is now a build-your-own donut bar in Cincinnati. Top This Donut Bar at University Station near Xavier allows you to just stroll in like you own the place and start dumping bacon and Andes bars and raspberry goo all over your donuts. That sounds amazing and I’m so glad it’s not on my walk to work.

• Let's head uptown, where the new Kroger they’re going to (finally, finally) build there. The Kroger on Short Vine in Coryville will be twice the size of the current store, which looks like a place your grandmother would have shopped in the 1970s when the fancy store across town wasn’t convenient. The new location will have more prepared food options, beer taps, and a number of other amenities. A replacement store at the location, near University of Cincinnati, has been in the works for a long time. Demolition on the current store will begin soon, after which the new store should be open in 12-14 months.

• We’ve all been there before, right? You’re in a shady corner of your local coffee shop or whatever and someone approaches you, looks around, and is all like, “Hey man, what do you think about some weed?” Well maybe that’s just me and I hang out in weird coffee shops. Anyway, the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber of Commerce will be holding listening sessions around the region so representatives of some of its 4,500-member businesses can give their two cents and help the organization determine how to come down on November’s marijuana legalization ballot initiative, a state constitutional amendment proposed by ResponsibleOhio. That proposal would make marijuana legal for anyone 21 and up, but would limit commercial growth to 10 sites owned by the group’s investors. The first listening session is taking place this morning at Coffee Emporium downtown. The next three will take place on Aug. 26 from 9-11 a.m. at Panera Bread locations in Newport, Union Township and Springdale.

That’s it for me. Hit me up with any news tips here.

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<![CDATA[Stage Door]]>

Theater slows down this time of year as most local companies are readying to launch their 2015-2016 seasons in September. You’ll find two newish productions on local stages — Company at The Carnegie in Covington and 9 to 5 at the Incline in East Price Hill. Stephen Sondheim’s Company is a solid production with a nice turn by Zachary Huffman in the central role of Robert. There are lots of well-performed tunes by a young cast and some able musicians. Here’s my review. I’m not so enthusiastic about the third show of the Incline’s inaugural season: 9 to 5 is a weak offering after the successes of The Producers and 1776. That’s largely due to a script that’s pretty stale and silly, as I mentioned in my review. It’s based on a 1980 movie about a chauvinistic boss and three women who give him his comeuppance. Dolly Parton played a feisty secretary in the movie and had a hit with its title song. When the movie became a 2009 stage musical, she wrote the songs. They don’t add much. Cincinnati Landmark must have pulled out all the stops for the first two shows this summer; this one looks like they cut some corners. These two productions continue through Aug. 30.

This is the final weekend for Hundred Days at Know Theatre. This Rock opera has been an unqualified hit for the 18-year-old Over-the-Rhine venue. I gave it a Critic’s Pick and I’ve talked with several friends who have gone back to see it a second time. Abigail and Shaun Bengson sing their way through a tragic love affair — a marriage cut short by a terminal disease — that ends up feeling pretty joyous since they choose to celebrate their “100 days” as if it was the 60-year marriage they had hoped for. Great concept, great execution. Get a ticket if you can: 513-300-5669

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

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

Good morning y’all. Here’s what’s happening around the city and beyond today.

Former Mason mayor and state representative Peter Beck was sentenced today to four years in prison on 13 felony convictions related to his role in defrauding investors by luring them into giving money to a failing technology company. Earlier this year, Beck was convicted of fraud, theft and perjury charges, though he was also found not guilty on 25 other charges. He faced up to 50 years in prison for his role in Christopher Technologies, which was already insolvent when Beck and other company leaders convinced investors to put money into it. Beck and his partners then spent that money elsewhere, leaving investors with nothing.

• The big story today is a big scum fest. Basically, some scummy hackers hacked a scummy website for gross married people to hook up with other people they aren’t married to and released a bunch of information about the site’s clients. Some of those clients used city of Cincinnati or other public email addresses to register for the site. Now some scummy news organizations are rolling around in the scum shower and we’re all just super gross and implicated by all this.

Recently, hackers broke into dating site Ashley Madison, which helps folks have illicit affairs. The hackers released reams of information about who uses the site, and lo and behold, accounts were created with email addresses corresponding to a city police officer, fire fighter and sewer worker. Other accounts with local public ties include one with an email address from someone in the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office, Cincinnati Public Schools and one from Kenton County Schools.

This smells fishy to me, though. Who is dumb enough to use their work email for this kind of thing? Further, is it really in the public interest to know who is trying to sleep with whom? Just use your private email address so we don’t have to hear about it, right? This whole gross thing is why I don’t want to get married, use the Internet, or really deal with people in any other way whatsoever. Thanks guys.

• The Ohio Chamber of Commerce, which as its name suggests, is a giant business association here in the state, yesterday voted to oppose ResponsibleOhio’s marijuana legalization constitutional amendment. The OCC is citing workplace safety concerns as the reason for its opposition. The organization is another big opponent of the constitutional amendment, which voters are set to approve or deny in November. ResponsibleOhio’s proposal would legalize weed in Ohio and create 10 marijuana farms throughout the state owned by the group’s investors. No other commercial growers would be permitted, though a small amount of marijuana could be grown for personal use with a special license. Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, the Ohio Manufacturer’s Association and a number of other large organizations have come out in opposition of the effort. Meanwhile, many statewide unions and other organizations and public figures have come out in support of the proposal. It’s shaping up to be a big battle right up until the ballot. You can read our whole rundown here.

• If I told you that someone you know was trying to illegally buy drugs overseas in order to kill people, would you be alarmed? I guess that depends on who you roll with. If you roll with the State of Ohio, for instance, it might not be news to you at all. The federal Food and Drug Administration has said not so fast to the state’s plan to import drugs from other countries so it can resume executing people. The FDA says Ohio’s plan to obtain sodium thiopental, which it can’t get in the U.S., is illegal.

The state’s plan has been necessitated by U.S. companies’ refusal to supply the necessary drugs for executions and by a highly-problematic 2014 execution here that used a replacement two-drug cocktail. That combination caused convicted killer Dennis McGuire to snort and gasp during his execution. It took him more than 26 minutes to die using the replacement drug cocktail, and similar combinations have caused other, sometimes gruesome, irregularities in executions in other states. After McGuire’s execution, the state placed a moratorium on carrying out the death penalty until it can secure more humane ways to execute inmates. There are currently no executions planned this year, but the state has 21 slated starting next year and stretching into 2019.

• It’s a good thing Ohio Gov. John Kasich isn’t running for king of America. If he was, teachers could kiss their lounges goodbye. Kasich made that strangely aggressive statement yesterday during an education forum in New Hampshire, a vital early primary state as Kasich battles with the hordes of GOP presidential hopefuls for a national look at the nomination. Kasich told an audience on the panel that if he were in charge, teachers wouldn’t have lounges where “they sit together and worry about ‘woe is us.’ ” Kasich went on to praise the work teachers do, but said teacher’s unions create an environment of fear and scare educators into thinking their wages and benefits will be taken away. Huh. Maybe it’s the low wages, high work hours, constant testing and uncertainty about funding that is playing into that mindset, but yeah, you’re probably right. Having a lounge to sit in definitely plays into the fear factor somehow. Next up: All teachers must eat in their cars at lunch time and not talk to anyone else at all.

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<![CDATA[Spoonful of Cinema: <i>Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation</i> (Review)]]> I went and saw Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation twice in the last week and a half. It was an absolute blast the first time around and the second opportunity was too hard to turn down when I found myself at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, Calif., last Wednesday afternoon. It is a doozy of a cinema house, and if you find yourself in the land of make-believe (that is, Hollywood), I do recommend an escape to the famous theater for a tour and a showing in their IMAX auditorium.

But back to Mission: Impossible 5. The high-octane action flick is a blast to the very past of its origins. The first Mission: Impossible arrived nearly 20 years ago. Ethan Hunt, the uncannily able, righteously insubordinate agent of the IMF (that’s the Impossible Missions Force) is as heroic as ever in huge thanks to none other than Tom Cruise. Cruise is his usual self — sharp as they come, quipping one-liners and putting his ass on the line for the old-fashioned Hollywood thrill of watching someone do drastically dangerous things as we watch from the comfort of a cushioned theater seat, throw popcorn at our faces and slurp on our sodas.

But Hunt is not without his team, and his team is a well-rounded crew both in what they contribute to Hunt and what the respective actors contribute to the chemistry. Simon Pegg gives us the silly, sarcastic surveillance wiz Benji Dunn. Jeremy Renner gives us the seriously stressed IMF Field Operations Director William Brandt. Rebecca Ferguson is the mysterious secret ally to Hunt, who holds the key between the IMF and their most dangerous enemies, known only as the Syndicate.

Together the team works from Washington, London, Paris, Vienna and Casablanca in their desperate attempts to thwart what seems like an unstoppable force of cruel international intentions. Along the way, we get Ethan Hunt and Co. in their finest form. They race through tunnels and alleys and mountainsides by foot and by car and by motorcycle. They infiltrate high-security premises with masks and soft steps and deep-water diving. They keep us laughing, on the edge of our seats and constantly wondering, “How can they get out of this mess?”

Perhaps the most impressive thing about Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation lies in its star, the Undeniable One, Mr. Cruise. But perhaps the most important piece of M:I–RO’s meticulously crafted Hollywood formula is its story, script and direction, all of which were crafted and brought to life by Christopher McQuarrie, with story assistance from Drew Pearce (set to write the upcoming Ghostbusters reboot).

McQuarrie’s expertise at the typewriter is as evident now as it was when he penned the Bryan Singer-directed, Academy Award-winning screenplay for 1995’s The Usual Suspects. No line is wasted. When viewers aren’t chuckling, we’re learning about the Syndicate — who they are, what they want, how Hunt might be able to stop them. Above all, McQuarrie knows how to paint Cruise as a charming lead. McQuarrie has written three other scripts (Valkyrie, Jack Reacher, Edge of Tomorrow) that have featured Cruise as the lead man.

And the charm is what drives the film at the end of the day. Because we’ve all seen Mission: Impossible before. We’ve all seen Tom Cruise save the day (practically every time we see him, actually). We’ve all seen explosions and motorcycle races and we’ve all heard big resounding chords played on horn sections as high-flying stunts are performed on-screen. So what makes this time around so special, perhaps the best Mission Hunt has seen in his five-installment, 20-year span?  It’s something difficult to describe.

What sets M:I 5 apart from so many other stupid Hollywood blockbusters is its ability to keep us constantly on our toes, unsure of whether we might be laughing at a surprise punch-line or gawking at a dangerous stunt or discovering some top-secret information. Rogue Nation accomplishes that rare, perhaps unprecedented feat of taking a Hollywood franchise beyond its own limits without uprooting its foundation in its fifth installment. Like the Fast & Furious franchise, the Mission: Impossible universe seems to only get more and more fun as each installment finds its way from studio back-lots and extravagant shooting locations to the cinema houses. It is a brilliantly young-at-heart balancing act that buoys the end result upwards toward Hollywood awesomeness in a silver-screen summer that has been sorely lacking in good old-fashioned fun.

Grade: B+

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<![CDATA[This Week's Dining (and Drinking) Events]]>
WEDNESDAY 19 
Canning Classes — Learn how to preserve your garden’s harvest with this canning class. Workshop features the latest recommendations based on USDA guidelines on safely canning vegetables and other low-acid foods. Geared toward beginners. 6-7:30 p.m. $15. OSU Extension Office, 5093 Colerain Ave., Mount Airy, hamilton.osu.edu.

All About Avocado — Romaine salad with avocado, citrus vinaigrette, bacon and summer tomatoes; Moroccan-flavored crispy shrimp with orange and avocado salsa; tomato, avocado and black-bean salsa with tortilla chips. 6-8 p.m. $70. The Learning Kitchen, 7659 Cox Lane, West Chester, thelearningkitchen.com.

THURSDAY 20
Cincy Brew Ha-Ha — If 50 comedians performing over the span of three days doesn’t get you laughing, the ninth-annual Cincy Brew Ha-Ha beer and comedy festival has just what you need to give your silly streak a pulse: beer. Lots of it. With two 100-seat beer gardens and plenty of beer booths serving up everything from locals like Braxton, Rivertown, MadTree, Ei8ht Ball and more to craft favorites like Dogfish Head, 21st Amendment, West Sixth and Fat Tire, Brew Ha-Ha plans to satisfy more than 20,000 thirsty and laugh-seeking Tristaters with plenty to drink and an impressive lineup of comics. Headlined Thursday night by Adam Ferrara (Rescue Me, Paul Blart: Mall Cop, Definitely Maybe), Friday night by David Koechner (Anchorman, Anchorman 2, The Office) and Saturday night by Brandon T. Jackson (Roll Bounce, Wild ‘N Out with Nick Cannon, Tropic Thunder), you’ll either be laughing your way to a full belly of beer or drinking your way to a day full of laughter. Or both. 5 p.m.-midnight Thursday-Friday; 4 p.m.-midnight Saturday. Free admission; $5 for drinking wristband; $1 beer samples; $5 full servings. Sawyer Point, 705 E. Pete Rose Way, Downtown, cincybrewhaha.com.

A Showcase of Summer Fruits — This menu highlights summer produce. Learn to make chilled melon gazpacho, Caribbean jerk chicken tacos with mango salsa, pork tenderloin with berry-rosemary sauce, quinoa pilaf with goat cheese and kale, and strawberry shortcake. 6-8:30 p.m. $50. Jungle Jim’s, 5440 Dixie Highway, Fairfield, junglejims.com.

Fish: Season, Sear, Sauce — Oven-fried cod with homemade tartar sauce over rice pilaf, white-wine poached salmon with caper sauce and paprika tilapia with garlic chipotle butter. 6-8 p.m. $80. The Learning Kitchen, 7659 Cox Lane, West Chester, thelearningkitchen.com.

FRIDAY 21
Date Night: Delicious Scallops — Green salad with toasted pine nits, oranges and balsamic vinaigrette, then sea scallops with spiced corn and pickled red onion topping over celery-root mash and sugar snap peas. 6-8 p.m. $165 per couple. The Learning Kitchen, 7659 Cox Lane, West Chester, thelearningkitchen.com.

SATURDAY 22
Shake It Up Cocktail Festival — Jungle Jim’s is a wonderland of exotic food and booze, and their new Shake It Up Cocktail festival celebrates the end of summer with just that. Say goodbye to tan lines, pool parties and flip-flops with expertly crafted cocktails and mixed drinks, and imbibe an atmosphere full of flair bartenders, expert mixologists and more. 6:30-9:30 p.m. Saturday. $40; $15 non-drinker. Jungle Jim’s, 5440 Dixie Highway, Fairfield, junglejims.com.

A French Bistro — A French bistro meal accompanied by Bordeaux wines. Includes country pate, steak fries, French cheese and pot de crème. 6-8:30 p.m. $50. Jungle Jim’s, 5440 Dixie Highway, Fairfield, junglejims.com.

Row x Row Dinner — Cocktails, dinner prepared with produce and meat from Gorman Heritage Farm and other local organizations, music by Sound Body Jazz, dancing, silent auction and raffle. Benefits Gorman Heritage Farm’s Educational Programs. 6 p.m. $35. Gorman Heritage Farm, 10052 Reading Road, Evendale, gormanfarm.org. 

Summer Celebration Presented by Red Shoe Crew — Pizza, drink specials, and a cornhole tournament, all benefitting Ronald McDonald House Charities of Greater Cincinnati. Noon- 3p.m. $10 wristband; tournament fee $40 in advance; $50 at the door. Goodfella’s Pizzeria, 1211 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-381-3625. 

Gourmet Grub for Good — Amateur chef competition and silent auction. Benefits Community Shares of Greater Cincinnati. 7-10 p.m. $45. Mayerson JCC, 8485 Ridge Road, Amberley Village, 513-475-0475. 

Best Friends and Brews — A night filled with everyone’s two favorite things: furry friends and beer. This tasting supports the SPCA of Cincinnati, featuring food from local restaurants, music by the Comet Bluegrass All-Stars and a raffle. Last year’s event sold out, so get your tickets quick. 7-11 p.m. $25-$125. Sharonville Shelter, 11900 Conrey Road, scpacincinnati.org/events.

An Afternoon with the Beer Barons — Spring Grove Cemetery and Arboretum has been the final resting place of many a famous Cincinnatian, from lawyers and politicians to our beloved beer barons. And Spring Grove celebrates our malty past with an afternoon dedicated to exploring the graves and stories of famous brewers through docent-led motor-coach cemetery tours and a party in the Rose Garden. Enjoy history with a side of beer and food as beer-brewing establishments manned by non-dead people, like representatives from Christian Moerlein, MadTree, Rhinegeist, Rivertown, Blank Slate and more, provide attendees with samples of their most popular and most unique beers. Food will be provided by Funky’s and Queen City Sisters, and Buffalo Ridge Jazz Band will put on musical entertainment. 4-7 p.m. Saturday. $40. Spring Grove Cemetery, 4521 Spring Grove Ave., springgrove.org.

TUESDAY 25
Grilling with Ellen: The Flavors of India — Indian spiced shrimp, Tandoori-style kebabs, spiced lemon rice with cashews, green beans with fresh tomato relish, cucumber mint raita and mango tart. 6-8:30 p.m. $65. Jungle Jim’s, 5440 Dixie Highway, Fairfield, junglejims.com.

Pan Sauce Workshop — Learn to create quick, flavorful pan sauces and use those techniques to dress up three favorite proteins. Make pan-roasted chicken thigh and orange brandy sauce, pork tenderloin with grape and thyme red-wine sauce, and salmon with rosemary-lemon sauce. 6-8 p.m. $75. The Learning Kitchen, 7659 Cox Lane, West Chester, thelearningkitchen.com.

WEDNESDAY 26
Risotto Workshop — Learn to make basic risotto, then make a rich, wild mushroom and bacon risotto, and a roasted butternut-squash risotto with romaine salad. Chef will also demonstrate dessert risotto made with vanilla and orange. 6-8 p.m. $70. The Learning Kitchen, 7659 Cox Lane, West Chester, thelearningkitchen.com.

THURSDAY 27
Taste to Remember — Talented area chefs come together to benefit the Children’s Hunger Alliance and the Greater Cincinnati Chapter of the American Culinary Federation. 6:30-9 p.m. $60; $40 YP. 20th Century Theater, 3021 Madison Road, Oakley, childrenshungeralliance.org.

Weeknight Jerk Chicken — Prepare rub and jerk chicken to pair with cooling cucumber yogurt sauce and creamy polenta with roasted red peppers. 6-8 p.m. $70. The Learning Kitchen, 7659 Cox Lane, West Chester, thelearningkitchen.com.


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<![CDATA[Morning News and Stuff]]> Now that ResponsibleOhio's initiative to legalize marijuana is officially on the Nov. 3 ballot, opposition has formalized against constitutional amendment that could legalize a weed monopoly. Yesterday, a coalition called Ohioans Against Marijuana Monopolies launched its coalition against the constitutional amendment that would only allow 10 Ohio farms to grow and sell the plant. The coalition includes the Avondale-based Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center. In a press conference at the Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus yesterday, the group raised concerns that legalizing marijuana could increase its access to children and teens as well as give the false perception that the drug is safe. Cincinnati Children's Hospital told the Business Courier that it is particularly concerned with kids getting their hands on candy and baked goods that contained marijuana. The group was also concerned that the measure would allow an individual to possess a up to a half-pound of pot, or enough to roll about 500 joints. 

• ResponsibleOhio isn't the only constitutional amendment voters will face in November. State lawmakers have put a second initiative on the ballot to block the monopoly-centered business model ResponsibleOhio has proposed for marijuana farms. So what happens if the two conflicting amendments pass? According to Secretary of State Jon Husted, the amendment to block marijuana would prevail because it goes into effect first. 

• Hamilton County's public health department found Indian Hill residents can expect on average to live 17 years longer than Lincoln Heights residents. A study by the department's epidemiologists looked at 13 measures of health found a 17-year difference in life expectancy across the county most heavily coordinated with your zip code. The rates of heart disease, cancer and stroke were significantly higher in lower-income areas than in higher-income areas. Norwood, Lincoln Heights, Lockland, Cleves, Addyston and Elmwood Place have life expectancies between 69.9 and 73.3 years, while Indian Hill, Montgomery, Evendale, Wyoming, Terrace Park and Amberley Village have life expectancies from 81.8 to 87 years.

• Gov. John Kasich told CNN he regrets supporting the Iraq invasion in 2003, but does support sending American troops back to the Middle East to fight the Islamic State. The GOP presidential nominee said that he made his decision a decade ago based just on erroneous reports of weapons of mass destruction, and had it not been for that small detail, he never would have supported it.

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

Ilene Ross: On Friday, the BF and I met some friends at Metropole for a long, leisurely lunch. I had broccoli beignets, a smoked blackberry grilled cheese sandwich and chilled corn soup. We all split a cookie plate, the chocolate mousse and the bourbon custard for dessert with pots of really wonderful French-press coffee. That grilled cheese sandwich was magnificent, and the whole experience was the perfect start to the weekend. Good food and great friends. I taught a cooking class on Friday night, so I got scraps of what my class made. It was perfect because after my huge lunch I wasn’t really hungry.
On Saturday, the BF and I took my son to 1940’s day at the Museum Center. We passed on the Spam rations they were offering and ate a late lunch of burgers and sandwiches. Guess what?!? They serve tots as a side dish at the Museum Center instead of fries. We were overjoyed, as we are all tot addicts. Since we gorged on hot tots, we were stuffed and needed no dinner. 
On Sunday, the BF and I decided to try having brunch at Sundry and Vice. Brunch at S & V consists of ordering food from the nearby Revolution Rotisserie & Bar by phone — which is soon delivered by a charming young man — while enjoying adult milkshakes. The boozy milkshakes are quite delightful. We spent the afternoon making cucumber pickles and then we grilled steak, corn, squash and eggplant for dinner.

Jac Kern: This weekend, some incredible friends threw a couple's shower for my fiancé and me. They surprised us by hiring a Benihana chef and borrowing a mobile hibachi grill (they exist!) for a delicious feast. We started with sushi, then everyone dug into steak, shrimp, chicken and veggies from the grill, complete with a giant heart-shaped mound of fried rice. The night ended with personalized fortune cookies and ALL THE DRINKS. Way too much fun. 

Katie Holocher: I tried J Bar Pizzeria in Hyde Park this weekend and it was killer. Not only do they have a pretty perfect patio with huge trees strung up with lights, but they also had live music on Saturday night, $4 housemade sangria and about 10 pies that I wanted to try. My husband and I went with the J Bar (red sauce, pepperoni, house cheese blend, truffled gremolata, parmesan, add banana peppers). It was awesome. And again, I would literally be down for any of their other specialty pizzas. We may go back once a week to try them all. 

Colleen McCroskey: I am on a constant search for the perfect chicken salad. Grapes and almonds: acceptable, sometimes preferable. Celery: Not so much. Panera’s will do in a pinch, and the chicken salad at Mt. Adams Bar and Grill, like everything else they do, is comforting, standard and delicious, but this past Saturday I tried a chicken salad so good I don’t know if I can ever go back to anything else. It was from Revolution Rotisserie, the Findlay pop-up that just opened their brick-and-mortar location a few months ago, and I kid you not when I tell you I did not know that chicken salad could taste this good. It’s creamy but not too rich, and seasoned so well it inspired me to take a trip to Colonel De’s the next day to try and incorporate that type of killer flavor into my own cooking. It’s so good that there are none of the fruit-or-nut add-ons that you usually find in a chicken salad, because Revolution’s chicken —moist, super-flavorful — can stand on its own. And, best of all, no celery. 

Casey Arnold: Saturday my boyfriend Brian and I wandered around the city like we do on the weekends. We started at The City Flea where we pet strangers' dogs and sauntered from shady place to shady place to find some relief from the heat. I stopped at the Dojo Gelato truck for a scoop of lemon sorbetto so I could feel light and healthy and a scoop of their creation called Junk in the Trunk (Grateful Grahams, smashed Oreos, peanut butter cups and toffee with sweet cream gelato) for obvious reasons. We wandered over to Vine to check out the new retail space called Elm & Iron to gawk at all of the pretty things in the shop. Eventually we made our way down to Bakersfield. We were lucky enough to approach the hostess as she was on the phone with a party of two who was canceling and were seated immediately. We snacked on chips and guacamole and sucked down a tart and tasty margarita while we waited for my dinner to arrive. I ordered a papas tostada, which was smeared with a spicy black bean paste and tasted so amazing that I kept poking my fork toward Brian with every other bite to try to make him try it. He eventually did and was equally impressed. 
We both really wanted to check out Northside Yacht Club, too, so we went there next (after spending an hour combing through the racks of Casablanca). We're friends with one of the owners and were regulars at its former incarnation, Mayday, so we were excited to see what they did with the place. It looks gorgeous now. The decor has a nautical theme that won't slap you across the face, but rather reads as modern and chic. We sat at the bar and ordered drinks. Brian tried one of their Tiki cocktails, something with ginger beer that had a lot of robust flavor and was served in a copper cup. We were too full for food but vowed to return so Brian can try a gluten-free pulled pork grilled cheese, which we have already heard good things about. 

Northside Yacht Club interior
Brian Cross

 

NYSC drink
Brian Cross

After, we headed to MOTR for a surprise birthday party. (HBD Tori!) MOTR whipped up a taco bar for the party room (what? they do that?) which was fun, and our friend made her a whimsically smashed and lopsided cake that the party devoured.   

Sarah Urmston: On Friday, I hosted a girl's night in my new place, so naturally journeyed to the famous Whole Foods to pick up a collection of goodies to create the perfect cheese plate. (Sometimes I think I love cheese more than any human should.) Scattered along my wooden Ohio-shaped cutting board were three different types of cheese — a soft gouda, a mild cheddar and a brie I put out a little early to give it a more spreadable texture. I chose round garlic-and-herb crackers that went well with the brie, as well as whole-wheat crackers for the cheddar, gouda and authentic Italian salami I placed in the center of the board. Since no good cheese plate goes without fruit, I placed bunches of red seedless grapes in the vacant spaces of the board and a bowl full of cherry vanilla almonds beside it all, which were completely gone within minutes. All went ridiculously well with the variety of wine everyone brought

 



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

Good morning y’all. I hope your weekend was fantastic and your summer is winding down nicely. Here’s the news today.

Former employees of now-shuttered Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar at The Banks have filed a lawsuit claiming the bar’s management purposely concealed the fact that the bar was closing and issued paychecks that later bounced. The bar closed July 16 due to unpaid rent two days after the MLB All-Star Game. Employees filing the class action suit say they were given no notice of the closure and that the Chase Bank account that their last paychecks were issued from is empty. Representatives for the bar, which is part of a nationwide chain, have not responded to requests for comment on the closure or the lawsuit. The Cincinnati location and others across the country have been subject to a number of lawsuits.

• A controversial marijuana legalization effort just got more opposition. ResponsibleOhio recently received confirmation that its proposed amendment to the state constitution will be on the November ballot. Now the group is working to rally its supporters even as powerful opposition emerges. Both conservative officials including State Auditor David Yost, other legalization efforts like Ohioans to End Prohibition and others have come out against ResponsibleOhio’s plan, which would legalize marijuana but limit commercial production to 10 grow sites owned by the group’s investors. Now, a powerful trade group is also opposing the plan. The Ohio Manufacturer’s Association says it opposes the proposed amendment, citing possible workplace safety issues and the plan’s creation of what it calls a monopoly. ResponsibleOhio’s Ian James has called those concerns “fear mongering.”

• Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted on Friday struck down charter proposals in three Ohio counties that would have outlawed fracking there. Athens, Medina and Fulton Counties were mulling the charter amendments, which, if approved by voters, would have prohibited the drilling techniques. But Husted says those charter amendments violate the state’s constitution and will not be enforceable. The power to regulate fracking lies with the state, Husted argues, and not with local or county governments. Hm. I thought conservatives liked small government and hated state control of things?

• Welp, personal financial disclosures are in for U.S. Senate candidates looking to woo Ohio voters, and of course we’re all sitting in the edge of our seats like it’s the last damned episode of Serial or something. Err, at least I am. You don’t get a huge buzz from checking out financial disclosures? Does sitting Sen. Rob Portman have enough cash to float the yacht he could purchase with his cash? What about former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, who was once one of the least-wealthy members of Congress? Has he upped his personal cash flow game? And how is hometown upstart and Cincinnati City Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld stacking up when it comes to, uh, stacking up?

Well, this piece has the answers for you. Portman is worth somewhere between $8 and $20 million — pretty respectable, though not top Senate-earner material. Strickland is worth somewhere between $300,000 and $700,000. Nothing to sneeze at, but he’d probably get picked on by the other kids in the Senate because his Nikes aren’t new enough. Meanwhile, Sittenfeld says he’s worth exactly $329,178. About half of that is in retirement accounts, because, you know, that’s gonna happen soon for the 30-year-old wiz kid. So wait, this guy’s younger than me and his retirement accounts have more in them than my bank account (by a long shot). Hold on, I need to go cry somewhere for a few minutes over my less than stellar life choices. Reason number 973 why I’m not running for Senate.

• Speaking of running for things, we have a guy running our state who is also running for president. Just in case you hadn’t heard about that. Gov. John Kasich has done pretty well for himself since last week’s first GOP primary debate, gaining some much-needed national attention for his campaign and even boosting his poll numbers in pivotal primary state New Hampshire. Kasich is now running third there behind former Florida governor Jeb Bush and real estate dude Donald Trump. Kasich has also grabbed a couple key endorsements, including one from Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley. It’s a sign that Kasich is making headway in his quest for the presidency, though wider polling shows he’ s still got a way to go and is far down the list of national GOP favorites.

• Finally, if all this politics stuff makes you want to drink, you’re not alone. A new report from the Ohio Department of Commerce Sunday revealed that Ohioans set a record for liquor sales last year, buying nearly $1 billion of the stuff. Most of the 7 percent uptick from previous years comes from folks buying fancier, more expensive booze, not necessarily because people are grabbing five bottles of Boone's Farm instead of four.

That's it for me. Tweet at me or email news tips, the best taco toppings, or your favorite flavor/combination of flavors of Boone's Farm. I like them all because I'm a journalist and that's how we roll.

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<![CDATA[Stage Door]]>

Know Theatre’s Hundred Days is not running for 100 days. In fact, it has only seven more performances, so I urge you to get your tickets now if you haven’t seen it yet. (I say this in part because I’ve now heard from three acquaintances that they liked the show so much they’ve purchased tickets to go back to watch a devoted couple deal with a marriage that’s foreshortened by illness. So I’m sure some performances are getting very full.) David Lyman gave it a good review in the Enquirer, and I attached a Critic’s Pick to my CityBeat commentary, so we agree — and I suspect you might, too. Abigail and Shawn Bengson, the performers and creators of Hundred Days, are full of energy and passion, and their backup musicians are infected with the same spirit. Next Wednesday (July 19) is a free admission performance, which is likely to be very full. Tickets ($25 in advance): 513-300-5669

This is the final weekend for Cincinnati Shakespeare Company’s very funny show, The Complete History of America (Abridged), featuring three very funny performers — Amanda McGee, Justin McCombs and Geoffrey Barnes. I don’t think you’ll leave the theater knowing more about American history, but you’ll understand our willingness to poke fun at ourselves and others. It has some moments that fall flat, but that’s to be expected in two hours of non-stop efforts at hilarity. When they hit it, the show is a laugh-out-loud riot. Final performance is Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets: 513-381-2273

Cincy Shakes’ FREE Shakespeare in the Park continues this weekend with performances of A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Dunham Arts Center in West Price Hill (this one is actually an indoor performance) on Saturday at 2 p.m. and at Covington’s Linden Grove Cemetery on Sunday at 7 p.m. (Not that you want or need to drive to Portsmouth, Ohio, to see a performance, but the troupe is there tonight — showing just how far they’re willing to go to advance the cause of Shakespeare.)

I wish I could tell you that 9 to 5, the third musical in the inaugural season at the Warsaw Federal Incline Theater, is as entertaining or well done as its predecessors, The Producers and 1776. But it isn’t. Nevertheless, based on the strength of the season so far and the novelty of going to a brand-new theater most of the tickets for this lightweight musical have already been snatched up. It’s based on a movie from the 1980s that featured Dolly Parton, Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin. Parton’s countrified tunes, written for the musical not the movie (which did feature her hit song of the same title), are mildly entertaining, but the story is full of clichéd stereotypes about “working girls” who struggle to work with a chauvinistic boss. The real Parton makes a video appearance, but it’s not quite enough. Through Aug. 30. Tickets: 513-241-6550

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

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

Good morning, Cincinnati! Here are your morning headlines. 

• Cincinnati City Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld announced yesterday at a press conference at Lincoln Recreation Center in the West End that the city will be rolling out an eight week pilot program partnership between the city, the Cincinnati Police Department and the city's recreation centers to keep five of Cincinnati's recreation centers open longer hours and open up a Lower Price Hill school for community use. Starting this Saturday, the Bush, Evanston, Hirsch, Millvale and Price Hills recreation centers will be open from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. and will stay open until 9 p.m. on weekdays. Oyler School will start granting community members access to its facilities. The eight pilot program will cost $50,000 dollars with $25,000 coming from the city and another $25,000 from an anonymous private donor. At the end of its run, the program will be evaluated and possibly extended into other recreation centers and schools depending on its effectiveness.   

Sittenfeld hinted that part of the push for the program has come from a recent spike in gun violence over the past few months, saying, "part of the reason we feel a lot of urgency on this is that everybody knows that summer can be a little bit hotter time of year, and just not in terms of the temperature."

• Mayor John Cranley is also out and about trying to reduce the city's crime wave. Cranley was spotted last week at a barbecue put together by Cincinnati Works in East Westwood, one of the highest crime neighborhoods in the city, talking with community leaders about their concerns. In June, the city pushed out an ambitious 90 day plan to reduce citywide shootings by 5 percent and overall crime by 10 percent, but some priorities have been dropped since the July shooting of Officer Sonny Kim, including curfew enforcement. 

• A Xavier University basketball player has filed a complaint of sexual abuse against former assistant coach, Bryce McKey. The 20-year-old player alleged that last May McKey invited her over to his northern Kentucky home, gave her several alcoholic beverages, fondled her twice and then tried to kiss her as she left. The player also claims that McKey tried to offer her money to not file a complaint in the days that followed. McKey, who has since left Xavier for a position an assistant coach for the University of Maryland's women's basketball team, has been suspended indefinitely from his new job and is scheduled to be arraigned this morning at the Kenton County Courthouse. He could face up to 90 days in jail or a fine of $250 dollars if convicted. 

• A Cincinnati-based state Senator has introduced a bill that would keep cops from being able to pull over motorists just for missing a front license plate. The lack of a front plate lead to a traffic stop last month in Mount Auburn in which unarmed 43-year-old Samuel Dubose was shot by University of Cincinnati police officer Ray Tensing.  Sen Cecil Thomas (D-Cincinnati) has proposed a bill making the lack of a front license place a secondary, rather than primary offense. So in order to be ticketed for it, a motorist must have been pulled over for another offense. Thomas, who is a former police officer, has titled the bill the "Dubose was Beacon Act."

• The Federal Railroad Administration is funding a regional study that could potentially increase train service between Cincinnati and Chicago. The FRA is planning to announce a study of a region-wide service that could increase service between the two cities. The Midwest and Southeast are the two regions chosen by Congress to spend $2.8 million on studying and planning rail networks. The federal money will flow through the Ohio Department of Transportation. That's wonderful news for rail advocates. Gov. John Kasich, who is not much of a fan of commuter rail, cancelled the Cincinnati-Columbus-Cleveland Amtrak route in 2011, a project which had $400 million from the federal government.

• Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign has just announced the former secretary of state and Democratic prez hopeful will visit Cincinnati next month. Clinton will swing through the area Sept. 10 for a fundraising event and campaign stop. Clinton so far has been the easy frontrunner for the Democratic nod, but she's faced some opposition of late from Vermont's U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, who has campaigned on a more left-leaning, populist message.

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