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Read us on your phone instead of talking to your friends at brunch.

White Christmas = Snowflakes Mary Jordan Yarger: Oh yes, let’s use a holiday that should be about bringing people together to create a hatefi lled song to further divide. Great move! Stan Litz: Democrats have an exclusive lock on intelligence, scientific fact. That is why U.S. is $20 trillion in debt and growing, deteriorating infrastructure states and cities going bankrupt, most with terrible credit ratings and cannot support public works, cannot issue bonds even in historic low-interest rate environment. Government should be about solving problems for the health, safety and welfare of the public not about calling people names. Practical solutions for problems — two- party crony system is broken, broken, broken.

the all-new


Nolan Void: Hey look, your song is already making snowflakes appear. Chris Dorn: Merry Xmas, time for some more hate! Comments posted at Facebook.com/CincinnatiCityBeat in response to Nov. 21 post, “Cincinnati all-stars team up for world’s first anti-Trump Christmas song”

is giving away Bengals tickets to the

Poor Public Transit Options Missy Hauck Strothers: Yet we think we are going to get Amazon and other corporations that want good public transit to build here… Comment posted at Facebook.com/CincinnatiCityBeat in response to Nov. 30 post, “As Cincinnati’s bus system searches for money ahead of coming deficits, riders are left waiting. And waiting.”

Poke Fever Reaches Midwest Join us at the following location where you can enter for your chance to win. Tickets will be given away that night on location. Tickets include entry into the game on the Miller Lite Who Dey Deck as well as complimentary beverages and food. #itsmillertime

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Saturday, 12/9 Champions Bar & Grille


3670 Werk Rd Cincinnati, OH 45248 (513) 376-8920 Win Tickets to the 12/10 Bengals vs Bears game on the Miller Lite Who Dey Deck!

laurabirckhead: @colinfoos I want to try this. sprucenailshop: @qinthecapcity Next time you’re in town! kaybee_s: Sooo happy this opened up so close to us!! Already visited and am looking forward to my next trip! It was delicious!! Comments posted at Instagram.com/CityBeatCincy in response to Nov. 27 post, “@pokehutotr is bringing the trendy Hawaiian-inspired fast-casual food craze to OTR.” Photo: @haaailstormm

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UPCOMING EVENTS Dec. 06 Bourbon & Bacon

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Texting Turns 25 While it’s hard to imagine, as I write this sentence with two thumbs on an iPhone, texting wasn’t a thing before the early ’90s. In fact, the first ever SMS message was sent 25 years ago this week. A British software programmer sent the message, “Merry Christmas” to a colleague from a computer (cell phones could only receive texts at the time). Fast forward two decades and texting is the preferred method of everyday communication (and if you’re gonna call, don’t you dare leave a voicemail). But before shorthand and emojis took over, it all started with a standard holiday greeting. HBD, txt!

Dictionary.com’s Word of the Year

Animal High Jinks

Scientists Call for Glitter Ban It’s the most wonderful time of the year and, perhaps, the most glittery. From sparkly greeting cards, giftwrap and holiday decorations to makeup and craft store aisles, glitter is everywhere. But some environmental scientists want to abolish the fairy dust. The shimmery substance is classified as a microplastic, which presents the risk of ocean pollution and harm to animals that eat it. And if you’ve ever been to a strip club, you know that shit is easily transferred and difficult to get rid of. So some scientists believe the stuff should be banned, like when California barred microbeads in products like facial scrubs. Isn’t the world is a dark and drab enough place with glitter? Maybe they really just mean to ban the 2001 Mariah Carey fi lm? Either way, scientists have serious beef with beautiful messes.

TIME Person of the Year Shortlist

White House = grimy frat house PHOTO: THINKSTOCK

White House Vermin

Contact T.C. Britton: letters@citybeat.com

1. The Jersey Shore cast is reuniting for a “family vacation” MTV special. Are they bringing their children? GTLD (gym, tanning, laundry, diaper change)! 2. NBC fired longtime Today host Matt Lauer early Wednesday morning after he was accused of sexual assault. That was actually a great decision by the network, which, wait a minute, allowed him to have a secret button so he could lock his office door without leaving his desk?! 3. Walmart was revealed to have sold, through a third-party, a T-shirt suggesting to lynch journalists. What did we ever do to you, besides expose your egregious business practices at every level? 4. Former INXS guitarist Kirk Pengilly told Australian Associated Press that he misses the days when “life was so simple and you could slap a woman on the butt and it was taken as a compliment, not as sexual harassment.” 5. The holiday gift Kushner Cos. sent to corporate friends this year is an embroidered bathrobe, which, besides being kind of intimate for company swag, symbolizes the article of clothing sexual assaulters like Harvey Weinstein successfully ruined this year. 6. The New York Giants benched quarterback Eli Manning in Sunday’s game against the Oakland Raiders, ending his 210-game consecutive starts streak. 7. Eminem gave Elton John and his husband diamond encrusted cock rings (is there a non-NSFW term for that?) as wedding gifts. 8. The Off-Broadway play Afterglow encouraged audience members to go nude at a Sunday performance. 9. Saturday Night Live went heavy on the stereotypes in a skit parodying Irish airline Aer Lingus with Irish-American host Saiorse Ronan. The airline had the last laugh, though, crafting a Trumpesque tweet about the “unwatchable,” “not funny” sketch.


Speaking of rodents, the White House is apparently infested with mice, cockroaches and ants, and I’m not talking about Jeff Sessions, Paul Ryan and Kellyanne Conway. Maintenance work orders for the building reveal that the grounds are plagued with pest infestations, including cockroaches in various areas, mice in the situation room and a dining facility and a colony of ants in John Kelly’s office. Some of this is to be expected — the White House is old AF and hundreds of people come in and out every day. And even though Trump is reportedly a germaphobe, he seems like the guy at work who’d be single-handedly responsible for maintenance issues. Every office has one: that coworker with no self awareness who microwaves tuna in the

The 10 candidates for TIME magazine’s 2017 Person of the Year were announced Monday with the most influential being unveiled Wednesday morning. The list includes Amazon CEO and richest man in the world Jeff Bezos; the undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children by their parents known as the Dreamers; Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins; supreme leader of North Korea Kim Jong-un; quarterback and activist Colin Kaepernick; the #MeToo movement that helped shed light on the prevalence of sexual harassment and assault; special counsel Robert Mueller; Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman, who was appointed in July; Chinese president Xi Jinping; and I may have trouble typing this but Trump was r... Trump was ri... Trump was right about the magazine considering him, because he’s on there, too. He received the honor (?) last year, so if he was named 2017 POTY, it would be the first time someone was recognized two years in a row. Obviously POTY doesn’t have to be a single human being, so I’m not sure why TIME snubbed Fiona the hippo, who this year brought divided families together and distracted us from possible nuclear holocaust from her home in the Cincinnati Zoo. #JusticeForFiona

This Week in Questionable Decisions…


When a New Jersey town’s Christmas lights were cut, the hunt for the vandals was on. But it turns out the culprit was something far less sinister than a Grinch with scissors. As the Jersey Shore town of Sea Girt prepared for its annual tree lighting, it was discovered that light wires had been cut in multiple areas of the holiday display. Police thought it was some

break room, clips his fingernails at his desk and disposes of rotting food in his cubicle trash can. You know the dude leaves empty KFC buckets lingering in the oval office for days at a time.

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Various dictionary tools from Oxford to Merriam-Webster annually announce their word of the year: the most searched term or one that best encapsulates the previous 12 months. Sometimes it’s not even a word, like when 2015 was summed up with the laughing with tears emoji. According to Dictionary.com, while users looked up “collusion,” “dossier” and “fury” in droves, the most popular term of 2017 was “complicit.” Ivanka, take note. There was a 300 percent spike in searches for complicit — which means choosing to be involved in an illegal or questionable act, especially with others — compared to last year. That can be connected to the first daughter (not you, Tiffany). With Ivanka boasting comparatively progressive views on equal pay and family leave, LGBTQ issues and climate change, many hoped she would mitigate Donald Trump’s ass-backwards views. Since clearly that’s not the case, critics dubbed her complicit in her father’s passing of shitty policies. After flubbing the use of the word in an interview, Trump’s favorite daughter (sorry, Tiffany) admitted she didn’t know what it means — a running theme for the Ivy League grad. But don’t just blame Ivanka — everyone knows the first family subscribes to alt-definitions.

meddlin’ kids, but when a squirrel was caught chomping on string lights, they realized he was the source of the snipping. Either the squirrel celebrates Festivus or liberals have recruited animals to aid in their war on Christmas. Meanwhile in Florida (which should be the name of a show or at least a nightly news segment), a possum lived out my personal fantasy of sneaking into a liquor store after hours and drinking the night away. An employee found the juvenile female possum next to a broken bottle of bourbon, clearly intoxicated. Poor girl should have busted into some Gatorade! She was taken to a wildlife rescue, given fluids and released back into the wild. We are all this possum.



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Walking the Walk After high-profile fatalities, the city has finally started moving on pedestrian safety. Will the efforts be enough? By N I C K SWA R T S E L L


A yield paddle at the intersection of Hamilton Avenue and Lingo Street in Northside P H O T O : nick swartsell

the rise of high-tech devices leading to more distracted driving and more people walking and running for fitness and lifestyle reasons. “This latest data shows that the U.S. isn’t meeting the mark on keeping pedestrians safe on our roadways,” Jonathan Adkins of the Governors Highway Safety Association told the Associated Press earlier this year. “Every one of these lives represents a loved one not coming home tonight, which is absolutely unacceptable.” Locally, things haven’t gotten much safer this year. In October, according to the latest available city data, there were 33 accidents involving pedestrians and cars. Twenty-three of those involved pedestrians crossing at intersections. But the wheels are just now starting to turn on major initiatives to increase safety for pedestrians on Cincinnati streets. Those efforts include, but aren’t limited to, $500,000 in new safety equipment at intersections in Northside, Hyde Park and other neighborhoods. Cincinnati City Council, spurred on by council members Chris Seelbach and P.G. Sittenfeld, approved that funding back in June. Sittenfeld says the money is for “citywide, high-impact, low-cost, nimble, ready to go” solutions to pedestrian safety issues.

“This was not meant to be half a million dollars to patch up or widen one road,” he says. “It’s meant to make people safer and more secure in their daily lives as they’re doing the routine things we all do — crossing the street, walking down the sidewalk, navigating your neighborhood. The headlines way too often are filled with tragedies that unfold relative to pedestrian safety.” The city’s Department of Transportation and Engineering has installed so-called yield paddles — florescent, waist-high markers in the centerline of busy streets — to alert drivers that pedestrians cross nearby. Each of those paddles costs about $700 to purchase and install, according to DTE. Those paddles have gone up on Hamilton Avenue at Lingo and Palm streets in Northside, where a busy business district and cross-town traffic heading between popular neighborhoods like Clifton and College Hill make walking dangerous. DTE has installed another paddle at Chase and Cherry streets in Northside, across from popular McKie Recreation Center. Hyde Park has also received the safety features, and several paddles will also be installed in neighborhoods like East Price Hill — where Ventura was struck and killed — Lower Price Hill, Walnut Hills and other neighborhoods.

Those are welcome changes, but it’s been slow going to get bigger efforts off the ground. So far, the city has put just $14,000 of its $500,000 pledge toward these fixes. That’s because the city hasn’t issued the bonds that will pay for the more expensive elements yet, which was a point of frustration for Sittenfeld and Seelbach at a Nov. 28 Cincinnati City Council committee meeting about pedestrian safety efforts. “It’s taken longer than expected to get the money bonded and in our bank, but much needed changes are happening... and will continue to ramp up,” Seelbach wrote in a Facebook post about the safety efforts Dec. 1. “A friend of mine was just hit crossing the street at Clifton and Glenmary last night. Walking in a crosswalk with the signal. We have to do better.” In the future, DTE plans to install overhead blinker signs and rapid flashing beacons. Those bright lights flash at intersections when pedestrians push a button, hopefully grabbing drivers’ attention. The city would like to put those lights at two locations in Northside and another two spots in Hyde Park. It is also looking at the possibility of putting raised curbs at locations in some neighborhoods. “There’s sort of a hierarchy of tools we can use,” DTE’s Mel McVey told council at

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ver the course of two months last year, three pedestrians died after cars hit them on streets in various Cincinnati neighborhoods. On Nov. 26, 2016, 3-year-old Khloe Pitts died after a car hit her and sped away as her family left the Festival of Lights at the Cincinnati Zoo in Avondale. Less than three weeks prior, on Nov. 7, 2016, a car struck Federico Ventura while he was crossing Warsaw Avenue in East Price Hill. That car sped off and another dragged him onto nearby McPherson Avenue. He died soon after. The month before Ventura’s death, Northside’s Sarah Cole died after a car hit her while she was walking across busy Hamilton Avenue to get coffee for coworkers at Tickle Pickle, the restaurant she owned. These deaths and other pedestrian accidents have led to an outcry from community leaders and business owners. Neighborhoods feel less safe to walk in, they say, even as the city touts walkability as a valuable urban amenity. As they waited for the city to take action in the wake of Cole’s death, Northsiders got creative, posting signs and small buckets with flags at crosswalks pedestrians could carry to make themselves more visible. Even after the city has started working on the problem, some in Northside have raised concerns that a few pedestrian paddles and new signs won’t make a dent in the dangers pedestrians face. Others, including some on Northside’s Community Council, feel that the changes are positive, even if they’re not enough on their own. It’s not just a Cincinnati problem. The tragic losses of Cole, Ventura and Pitts, among others, are part of a national trend. In 2016, 6,000 pedestrians across the country died in accidents involving motorists. That was an 11 percent spike from 2015 and a more than 25 percent rise from 2010. The increase greatly outpaced the rise in auto accidents in general last year, and the number of people killed represents the highest pedestrian death toll in two decades. A variety of factors could explain the surge, such as


city desk

UCPD Chief Resigned After “Inappropriate” Texts and Calls By N i c k Swa r t s el l

The University of Cincinnati released an independent report Dec. 1 revealing the reason for former University of Cincinnati Police Chief Anthony Carter’s abrupt resignation: a series of inappropriate text messages and phone calls to a woman in the middle of an investigation into threats made by her estranged husband. According to the report by consultants Exiger, in September an unnamed male faculty member made threats against his estranged wife, who also works at the university, over photos of a sexual nature involving the woman and another male fellow faculty member. Carter wasn’t immediately involved in the investigation into those threats but recognized the woman at a Sept. 6 demonstration against the Westboro Baptist Church on campus. He asked the woman to call him and over 36 days proceeded to text her 171 times and place 11 phone calls lasting more than three hours. The report says the woman revealed that Carter asked her out on dates during this period and that she declined but kept corresponding with Carter “because of fear of upsetting the chief of police.” Carter later invited the woman to a Bengals game, the Playhouse in the Park and other social outings. Exiger’s report

contains excerpts from text messages between the two in which the woman politely rebuffs Carter’s invitations multiple times. Based on interviews with UCPD officials, the woman and others at the school, Exiger determined that: • Carter did not take the immediate steps necessary to determine if a credible, bona fide threat of physical harm to faculty or students really existed. • Carter unnecessarily and without precedent injected himself into nonsupervisory aspects of the investigation, bypassing traditional command and control, heightening participation only after meeting the woman face to face. • Carter unnecessarily and inappropriately maintained extended and extensive contact with the woman well beyond investigative imperative. • Carter intentionally or unintentionally led the woman to believe that he was acting on behalf of the university during his extended contact with her. • Carter unnecessarily put the woman in fear for her safety either intentionally or unintentionally by overstating danger to her.

• Carter failed to officially document his interactions with the woman. • Carter on at least three occasions asked the woman out on dates. UC officials asked Carter to resign Nov. 22 after the investigation into his conduct was completed. He did so the next day, though last week the school announced he would take a position with its School of Criminal Justice. His attorney, Brian Redden, says he disagrees with Exiger’s findings and that Carter wasn’t trying to elicit a relationship with the woman. “Only on one occasion during these text interchanges did anyone mention the concept of a ‘date’ or romantic relationship and that was a statement made by the wife,” Redden wrote in a letter to UC officials. “In response to that comment, Chief Carter immediately corrected that comment and informed her that he had no such intent or interest.” CityBeat did not receive a response from UC after requesting further comment. Interim UCPD Chief Maris Herold has taken Carter’s position following his resignation. Carter was a finalist for a job as the Fairfield Police Chief — the city of Fairfield has yet to make a statement about whether he’s still a candidate. 

Anti-Abortion Club Says Miami University Policies Chill Free Speech By JA M ES M c N AIR

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A student anti-abortion club filed a federal lawsuit Nov. 29 against Miami University, saying it abandoned its annual “cemetery of the innocents” display on the Hamilton campus after the college demanded that warning signs be placed ahead of the display.


Wait, call off the lawyers! A Miami spokeswoman called the flap an “unfortunate misunderstanding” the following day. Claire Wagner says the university doesn’t require warning signs. The cemetery display, she says, can go on. The suit, filed by Students for Life at Miami University, accuses the college of violating its constitutional right to free speech. Miami is a public university. The club wanted to plant small crosses in the

Hamilton campus’ Central Quad to maximize exposure. “These past cemetery of the innocents displays have persuaded multiple women who were pregnant and considering abortion to change their minds and choose life for their unborn children,” says the suit filed in U.S. District Court in Cincinnati. Students for Life says it first put up a cemetery display on the 2,700-student MiamiHamilton campus in March 2015. That first display, the suit says, prompted a women’s studies professor to persuade her students to unplant every cross and sign. The anti-abortion club received tentative approval from Caitlin Borges, the university’s regional director of student activities and

orientation, to put up the display Oct. 29 to Nov. 5. But the college had one new condition, a requirement that signs be posted near campus entrances telling people that the Students for Life exhibit lay ahead. In an email to Students for Life club President Ellen Wittman, Borges wrote that the symbolic cemetery “is quite polarizing and causes a lot of unrest on campus.” “Our counseling center sees a spike in the number of students who report overwhelming feelings of sadness, anxiety and pain triggered by the display when they encounter it unexpectedly,” Borges wrote on Oct. 26. To Students for Life, the warning signs might as well have been a roadblock. Its lawsuit says the signs would

“dissuade members of the university community and campus guests from viewing the cemetery of the innocents display and send a message … that this display of crosses was somehow dangerous or harmful.” The lawsuit asks the court for a judgment that Miami University violated the club’s First and 14th Amendment rights. It asks for attorneys’ fees, costs and an unspecified “nominal” amount of monetary damages. With Miami relenting, it might not go that far. “All Miami University students and student organizations have First Amendment rights to free speech,” Wagner says. “As a result, the university does not approve or disapprove of any student organization’s display based on content or subject matter.”

Average Rent in Cincinnati Rising Faster than State, Nation By N ICK SWART S ELL Cincinnati is still one of the more affordable cities in the country, but increases in the cash renters cough up to landlords are outpacing the state and national averages, according to research released this month by rental website apartmentlist.com. While Cincinnati’s average two-bedroom rent of $840 a month is above Cleveland’s $800 a month, it’s still below Columbus’ average of $940 a month and the national average of $1,160 a month. But rent is increasing faster here. The average apartment in Cincinnati costs 3.4 percent more than it did last year. That rate is higher than Cleveland and Columbus, which roughly mirror the state’s 2.6 percent increase and the national increase of 2.7 percent. It also outpaces peer cities like Pittsburgh, where the $910 a month average rent increased only 1 percent over last year, and Indianapolis, where the $850 a month average increased by 2.9 percent. All told, 89 of the nation’s top 100 cities saw some rental increase last year. Cincinnati’s rents aren’t the fastest growing in the country. That distinction belongs to Sacramento, which saw its average rent skyrocket by 9.5 percent last year. The Queen City and surrounding region are generally affordable for middleincome renters compared to most other urban areas, but, as in many places across the country, low- and moderateincome residents are struggling. Hamilton County currently has a 40,000-unit deficit of housing units affordable to low-income people, and that gap widens when considering moderate-income people making less than the area median income of about $75,000 for a family of four. The federal government considers rent affordable if an individual or family spends 30 percent or less of their income on housing. According to data from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, 43 percent of renters in the region spend above that threshold. That goes up to 48 percent in the city limits. Cincinnati still has a long way to go to reach the heights of unaffordability found in America’s most expensive places. Famously spendy San Francisco’s average monthly rent is more than $3,000 a month, for example, and New York City’s average rent is almost $2,500 a month, though that dropped slightly this year. The study relies on U.S. Census Bureau median rent statistics along with current apartment listings to track trends in rent increases and decreases. Researchers then use statistical analysis tools to correct for sample bias toward luxury units present in rental market listings. 


its recent meeting. “At the bottom is the crosswalk paddle. We’ll start with that and see what results we can get. If the community still doesn’t feel like they’re seeing the traffic calming it wants, we can move up to the next tool, which is going to be a little more expensive.” The beacons cost between $20,000 and $30,000 to design, purchase and install, DTE says. The eventual goal is to get at least the yield paddles in the central business district of every neighborhood, DTE Director Michael Moore says. The department has meetings set up with community representatives in East Price Hill, Westwood and Clifton to discuss the location of the paddles in those neighborhoods. “It’s been a matter of conversations and engagements with the neighborhood as to what goes where,” Moore says. The city is also looking forward to the launch next month of a citywide crowdsourcing site that would encourage residents to report issues with pedestrian safety. That site would then map the incidents to provide a clearer picture of where more safety measures need to be taken. “Historically, we’ve really relied on crash data to inform where we locate safety improvements,” McVay says. “It’s really exciting that we now have a tool we can use proactively to engage the

community and dig down and prevent some of these issues.” There are other efforts on the table, small and large, to increase safety on streets in neighborhoods like Northside. The community council there looks to vote next month on requesting the city study the idea of allowing people to park on Hamilton Avenue 24 hours a day, for example. That would effectively narrow the busy street to two lanes, hopefully calming traffic. Some city officials have also floated more ambitious changes. Earlier this year, Vice Mayor David Mann and Councilwoman Yvette Simpson proposed making the intersection known as Knowlton’s Corner, where Hamilton Avenue comes together with Spring Grove Avenue and other roads, into a roundabout. The intersection has been a historically hectic one, carrying traffic rushing downhill from Clifton and coming from wide-open stretches of road like Colerain and Spring Grove avenues. The idea generated a good deal of enthusiasm, as well as no small level of derision from some residents. Sittenfeld says the city’s efforts so far are just the beginning . “This $500,000 can’t be all that we do,” he says. “We can do other things that will be more effective than signs.” 

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Warm Seasonal Sippers

Cozy up with these toasty and timely winter cocktails BY M AC K E N ZI E M A N L E Y


ith the chill of winter comes a unified call around the Midwest to place coziness at the forefront of our lives. And as the weather outside becomes frightful, the lure of snuggling up to a warm drink becomes almost unavoidable. To mark the advent of winter cocktail season, we sampled some steamy beverages from local drinking establishments and hangouts to give you tips on what to tipple.

Ethereal plants wind and twist in the corners creating an almost mystical ambiance. Slouchy couches and dim lighting fuse with Jazz. The menus are faded, the yellow-green paint textured and the smell of old, secret books feels like home …or a Neil Gaiman novel. I chose a Cocoa Mint cocktail ($5), made with Rumple Minze peppermint schnapps and topped with whipped cream that melted soon after it arrived at my table. The rest of the bar’s drink selection is unassuming — several other warming alcoholic beverages are available, including Hut Rum Cider and Keoke Coffee. The taste of rum was strong, with the mint adding an extra bite to its flavor. The notes of chocolate were an undercurrent: an adult hot chocolate. As I sat tucked away in a corner watching cars pass by outside, I was thoroughly warmed by the sugary, milky cocktail — a taste that was nostalgic and familiar, like it was made with love. 2839 Highland Ave., Corryville, searchable on Facebook.

Bad Santa Miracle at the Overlook Lodge The Shining-themed Overlook Lodge has an entire menu and pop-up bar — Miracle at the Overlook Lodge — dedicated to the holiday season (cocktails are $11; naughty and nice shots are $5). The choices range from Jingle Ball Nog (cognac, amontillado sherry, peanut butter, almond milk, nougat syrup) to How the Gimlet Stole Christmas (gin, pine-carawy-sage cordial) to You’ll Shoot Your Rye Out (pumpkin-spiced rye, Budweiser-marshmallow syrup, egg). The windows of the faux lodge are frosted. Inside, colored lights dangle from the ceiling as Scrooged plays in the background. Hatchets, crossed with evergreen tree branches, are a reminder that this is Jack Torrance’s domain, despite the santa-hat-covered chairs and red-and-green plaid tablecloths. I opted for Bad Santa: mulled red wine (tawny port) blended with orange liqueur, spices and golden raisins. The texture was thick and sweet; the spices were rich and homey. It felt like a remedy conjured up for cold nights in a cabin up north. Its Santa-shaped mug (in which ol’ St. Nick was winking) added an extra layer to an already decked out atmosphere. As the bartenders debated which Christmas movie to play next, the hazy, classic style of the bar (even decorated for holiday cheer) made it easy to slip into another universe. 6803 Montgomery Road, Pleasant Ridge, thatshiningbar.com.

O t h e r w a r m c o c k ta i ls

Hot Buttered Rum – The Blind Lemon: As its name suggests, this classic is made with a base of Barcardi dark rum. Melted butter and brown sugar act as the rum’s counterpart. Spices add an extra layer of warmth.

P h oto : H A I L E Y B O L L I N G E R

I r is h C o f f e e 1215 Wine Bar & Coffee Lab 1215’s Irish Coffee ($9) is more glamorous than its origins suggest. It comes topped with soft (not overly sweet) homemade whipped cream and is served in a glass; the union between espresso and Jameson whiskey is smooth yet bitter, a pleasing contradiction. For the holidays, the bar offers the option of adding a peppermint shot,

which I eschewed. For me, at least, the simple cocktail was as classic as a stocking dangling above a chimney. As I took my last sips of the cocktail, the Dubliners’ “Whiskey in the Jar” played over the speakers. The soft chatter at the bar, clinking mugs and the sound of fingers clicking away at laptop keyboards felt like a perfect goodbye — the

last moments of a family party as dad slides into La-Z-Boy recliner. 1215 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, 1215vine.com.

Cocoa Mint Highland Coffee House At Highland Coffee House, every wall is cluttered with framed iconography.

The Dead of Winter – The Rook OTR: For $6, curl up with a board game and a blend of Gosling’s dark rum, Captain Morgan’s spiced rum and hot apple cider. KY Coffee – The Littlefield: Admire the twinkling lights on the Littlefield’s patio with a bourbon spin (Evan Williams, specifically) on the caffeinated drink. Topped with whipped cream and swirled in carmel, it’ll warm both the body and soul.

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The Overlook Lodge’s holiday pop-up bar features lots of themed drinks.

Dr. Finkelstein – Video Archive: Overlook Lodge’s sister bar, Video Archive in Walnut Hills, has a pop-up bar of its own: Yuletide Nightmare, with a Nightmare Before Christmas theme. Try out Dr. Finkelstein, a warm mug of hot Earl Grey tea with a twist of winter-spiced shochu.


P hoto : hailey bollinger

W i n t e r Warm e rs AND Ho l i d ay A l es BY ER I N C O U C H

Swap Santa’s milk for one of these holiday-themed local beers. Claus – Braxton Brewing Co. Braxton’s Claus is a peppermint sweet stout with a creamy milk chocolate base that is highlighted by a delicate peppermint undertone — it becomes more obvious as your glass warms and empties. The brewery collaborated on the beer with local candy company Doscher’s. With a low bitterness profile that sets it apart from other stouts and a 5.5 percent ABV, it’s a perfect replacement (or accompaniment) to a candy cane, which Doscher’s has been making by hand for more than 100 years.

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Winter Ale – Mt. Carmel Pick up Mt. Carmel’s winter warmer, imbued with holiday fruits like plums and oranges and spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and pepper to create a classic, dark ale that’s perfect to drink while cozying up to a roaring fire.


Dad – Rhinegeist ’Twas the night before Christmas and all through the ’Nati, not a relative was tipsy, not even ol’ Daddy. Or was he? Change the tune of a holiday gathering with Rhinegeist’s popular seasonal hoppy red ale, Dad. The 6 percent ABV ale as a seasonally appropriate reddish brown tint that’ll look good in your family’s annual ugly Christmas sweater photo. Hops and holiday spices intermingle to match the staple flavors of the season, without the sweetness overload. Also, it comes in a cute plaid can. Santa’s Bribe – Taft’s Brewing Co. Set a pint of this libation — affectionately marketed as a “Christmas Cookie Ale” with hints of ginger, cinnamon and vanilla — on the mantle for Santa and hope he doesn’t get slapped with a sleigh DUI by the end of the night (PSA: Don’t drink and drive). With a high-but-not-too-high 6.2 percent ABV, it will surely warm the cockles of your heart

without making you tipsy enough to permanently place you on the naughty list. Salted Carm-Ale – Rivertown It’s a take on the gooey, sweet-and-salty treat, which was a favorite of Lauren Hill, the Mount Saint Joseph University basketball player who died of brain cancer in 2014. Hill raised more than $1 million for The Cure Starts Now, a locally based international childhood cancer foundation. And Rivertown has teamed up with the group to offer some philanthropy during the holidays. You can indulge in a glass of the toffee-inspired Roebling porter at the taproom, where $1 of every pint will be donated to the charity. Thundersnow; Luna Lux – MadTree With notes of ginger, nutmeg, vanilla, cinnamon and a bready malt sweetness, you might as well crack open a can of Thundersnow spiced Scottish ale after a hearty Christmas dinner. Given the scrumptious flavor profile, the 8.5 percent ABV ale just might be the perfect companion to a plate of home-decorated gingerbread men (dunking not recommended). The seasonal dark beer is balanced with a lighter option: MadTree’s new Luna Lux, a white IPA with coriander, lemon peel and a clove finish. ’77 Winter – Christian Moerlein It’s supposedly the most wonderful time of the year — but not for Cincinnatians who endured the fateful winter of 1977, when temperatures reached minus 25 degrees and the Ohio River was suddenly suitable for iceskating. For those old enough to remember, maybe Moerlein’s 6.3 percent ABV winter warmer will numb the frigid memories. And, while the beer works its namesake magic, you can help people in need: Bring a new or gently used coat to the taproom and you’ll get your first pint of ’77 Winter for only $1.

What’s the Deal with Chestnuts?

A look into why these nuts have become synonymous with Christmas … and open fires BY L E Y L A S H O KO O H E

Madison’s at Findlay Market roasts chesnuts on weekends. P ho t o : H A I L E Y B O L L I N G E R

Perhaps some of the associative quality of chestnuts and holidays can be attributed to their ripening season, which coincides with the Thanksgiving through Christmas time period. A quick Pinterest search will yield a number of ways to cook with chestnuts, from including them in the aforementioned stuffing to chestnut soups and chocolate chestnut tortes.

This year, Madison’s teenage granddaughters, Ellie and Julia Madison, are in charge of the roasting. The pair has been doing it for about five cumulative years, and they’ve got the process down to a science. “Most nuts are flat on the bottom and round on top, and what you want to do is score from one side to the other on the

round end and then put them in one of those little campfire shakers and just keep shaking them and shaking them,” Ellie says. “They’ll split open a little bit and you’ll see the nut inside start turning this really beautiful, like, golden color and then it starts to look like it’s almost getting kind of moist and shiny and that’s when they’re done. And if you did it properly and scored it right, you can just pop both sides of the shell off.” This is what our pal Nat was singing about, except the open fire at Madison’s is actually a propane burner. The girls will roast the nuts all morning, with “The Christmas Song” playing on repeat, selling red paper cones filled with chestnuts to marketgoers for $3. For the uninitiated, the girls say chestnuts taste similar to sweet potatoes. Not actual orange sweet potatoes or yams, but rather a golden potato with a hint of sweetness. Oh, and they’re meaty. “It’s almost like a sweet-savory,” “ Ellie says. Julia agrees. “For people who’ve never had one, they have a texture of a potato. They’re pretty soft, they’re not chewy — they do kind of smell like meat.” If you don’t have access to a campfire shaker or open flame, never fear. Rogstad’s alternate cooking method entails steaming them. He recommends puncturing the hard skin with a knife, putting them in a bowl with a little water, and microwaving for two or three minutes. Or Ellie says you can also pan roast them. Her recipe calls for a hot oven warmed to 450 degrees, with scored chestnuts laid bare in a pan, preferably high-sided for optimal shaking return. Shaking is integral. Every couple of minutes, pull the pan out and shake the pan or move the nuts around with your hand, flipping them if shaking doesn’t cause enough motion. If you’re mourning the loss of the American chestnut, take heart. Rogstad says his research coupled with the American Chestnut Foundation’s work breeding and developing blight-resistant strains of the tree could “hopefully recolonize our forest someday.” In the meantime, Madison’s chestnuts are available during store hours. Keep an eye out for Ellie and Julia roasting them on an open propane tank on weekends.

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hen Nat King Cole first crooned the opening line of “The Christmas Song” — “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire” — it’s quite possible he was among the last generation to have an authentic American chestnut. The ubiquity of the song and the association of chestnuts with the winter holiday season might lead one to believe that they’re as American as apple pie, but that simply isn’t the case, because the American chestnut is functionally extinct. Once one of America’s most prolific tree crops, this hearty tree fell victim to blight in the late 1800s. By the late 1930s, three to four billion trees had succumbed and perished. Where small pockets of chestnut trees have survived across the Eastern United States, the saplings bloom and grow but, inevitably, the blight will attack and down they go again. However, according to the American Chestnut Foundation, the root infrastructure of the tree hasn’t been totally eradicated, hence the “functional” extinction. “The American chestnut used to be certainly in the top three most important trees of the forest of the eastern seaboard,” says Steven Rogstad, a biology professor and research scientist at the University of Cincinnati. Rogstad and his research team have conducted multi-year studies aimed at examining the American chestnut’s genetic diversity and modeling the potential reintroduction of a blight-resistant strand back into the American ecology. He says there are about seven different chestnut species in the world. Predominant is the Chinese chestnut, which, coincidentally, is the carrier of the blight. You can buy Chinese chestnuts at Kroger or even the CAM International Market on Reading Road, but the chestnuts at Madison’s in Findlay Market are imported from Italy, says Bryan Madison, the grocery store’s proprietor. He says people buy them around Thanksgiving to roast to use in dishes like stuffing, and then he and his family continue to roast them at Findlay Market through the New Year. “My son has all the equipment, brings it down and some of the younger grandchildren will come down with him and they’ll roast, and we do that out in front of our store,” Madison says. “If you go to New York, they’ll roast them there on the street. I think we’re the only ones that roast chestnuts here in Cincinnati.”

Madison’s is located at 110 W. Elder St., Findlay Market, Over-the-Rhine.


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Have Yourself a Weird-Ass Little Christmas Shake up your holiday mixtape with some weird/funny/crappy/cool Christmas “gems” BY M I K E B R EE N


Rudolph gets bouncy with Big Freedia PHOTO: PROVIDED

Listen to the full weird/funny/crappy/cool Christmas playlist at citybeat.com.


• Bobby “Boris” Pickett – “Monster’s Holiday”: Mr. Pickett’s career in music is hilarious in itself, as he remade his one big hit, the Halloween classic “Monster Mash,” about 10,000 times to try to strike gold again. And it actually made for a sustainable career. For this version, Pickett adds the essential Christmas-song requirement (sleigh bells) and sings in his best Boris Karloff voice about classic monsters getting presents, to which Frankenstein’s monster at one point reacts with a “Arrrhhhhhhh — Santa good!” • Tommy Tutone – “867-5309/Jenny (Christmas Version)”: Similar to Bobby Pickett, Tommy Tutone never was able to live up to the success of his one hit, 1981’s “867-5309/Jenny,” so in 2009 he just gave the people the Tommy Tutone they wanted and re-recorded the song, along with a Christmas version for a compilation. The holiday spin is almost exactly the same as the original, with added sleigh bells (of course) and the basic lyrics of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” singing those words


• Big Freedia – “Rudy, The Big Booty Reindeer”: More a drastic reimagining than a “cover,” Big Freedia gives Rudolph a twerkfriendly Bounce makeover on this track from last year’s A Very Big Freedia Christmazz. This should replace Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You” as the biggest Christmas song of the modern era. • The Fans – “I Want a Beatle for Christmas”: On Dec. 15, you could buy a $72 box set of The Beatles’ throw-away fan-club messages, or you could just fire up the ol’ streaming box and rock out to this early-Beatles-styled novelty tune from 1964, credited only to “The Fans.” Not to be confused with Becky Lee Beck’s song of the same exact name or comedic actress Dora Bryan’s “All I Want for Christmas is a Beatle,” this shuffling ditty features “Jingle Bells” background vocals (but changed to “Ringo Bells,” which probably seemed hilarious at the time) and bratty, insistent lyrics (if the lead singer doesn’t get an actual human Beatle on Christmas morning, she threatens to “never love Santa again”).

in the chorus instead of Power Pop’s most famous phone number. • Bitch Crosby – “Christmas is Here”: If you’re looking to light up your holiday with some pumping hardcore EDM, Bitch Crosby (the pseudonym of an unknown producer whose discography consists solely of these kind of holiday jams) has you covered. This track — which drops “Carol of the Bells” melodies into its Bassheavy train-wreck of beats — is from the digital double album (!) EDM X-Mas 2014. • Insane Clown Posse – “Santa’s a Fat Bitch”: This combination of words doesn’t really need much of an explanation. The scandalous Detroit Rap duo went in hard on Christmas’ kingpin (“Santa Claus suck my balls/Drunk as hell ringing bells at the malls”) on the leadoff track from their 1994 EP, A Carnival Christmas. • Dread Zeppelin – “Blue Christmas”: One of the biggest WTF success stories of the AltRock ’90s, Dread Zeppelin was primarily a Reggae Led Zeppelin cover band with a 300-pound Elvis impersonator as lead singer. (Yes, it got old quick.) For this version of the Elvis holiday classic, the group shows some mercy and drops the Zeppelin ingredient (don’t worry, the Reggae and Elvis vocals are still abundant). • Mel Blanc – “The Hat I Got for Christmas is Too Beeg”: This one is troublesome. Beginning in 1936, Blanc was the star voice actor for the Looney Tunes cartoons, voicing Porky Pig and Bugs Bunny. Those cartoons were filled with horribly racist portrayals of African Americans, Asians and others. Today they can be viewed as examples of how rampant and blatant racism was/is in our culture, and you can add Blanc’s 1958 Christmas single to that history lesson. As the “beeg” suggests, Blanc sings in an overexaggerated Mexican accent about Santa’s gift of an oversized sombrero and how it’s hot and so disorienting he “got married to his brother.” Uh, ooookkkaayyyy. • Les Paul and Mary Ford – “Jungle Bells (Dingo-Dongo-Day)”: This fun, quirky single from 1953 might not sound like it on first listen, but it’s actually a remarkable example of Les Paul’s hugely influential inventiveness, not just in guitar playing (here he faithfully recreates jungleanimal sounds with his instrument, an art form Adrian Belew would refine about 25 years later), but also in his revolutionary recording techniques. “Jungle Bells” showcases Paul’s multi-track studio innovations, particularly in Ford’s elastic vocal layering.

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everal years ago, I developed a fascination with “bad music” when a friend loaned me a copy of the book Incredibly Strange Music: Vol. 1 from the fringe publisher RE/Search. It’s not the Nickelback brand of bad, and really the term “bad” doesn’t necessarily fit. “Strange,” “weird” or “funny” might be better descriptions. It’s music that’s entertaining in its oddness and often humorous (usually unintentionally), though I rarely felt like I was laughing “at” the artists. In 2004, off beat fi lm icon John Waters reignited my interest in the subject, this time with a holiday flair. Featuring the kind of kitschy music one would expect from the fi lmmaker behind Pink Flamingos, the A John Waters Christmas compilation album featured often-obscure song oddities from various eras and genres, from the creepy, religious “Happy Birthday Jesus” from 1959 (with “spoken word” provided by a small child credited as “Little Cindy”) to 1973’s “Santa Claus is a Black Man” to Tiny Tim’s rendition of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” Though sadly out of print, it’s one of my favorite Christmas albums because it does something good holidays songs should do — spread cheer and joy by tickling my (twisted) funny bone. The songs also offer occasionally unpleasant but at the very least illuminating snapshots of what life was like in particular eras. Last year, largely in an effort to make my adolescent daughter laugh (she inherited my sense of humor), I got back into the bizarre-Christmas-music game, becoming something of a “collector” of both oddities and legitimately cool but lesser-known tracks. Thanks to Spotify, I suddenly had access to a whole new universe of “weird/ funny/crappy/cool” (as I titled the subsequent playlist) Christmas chestnuts. Initally I compiled a somewhat maddening 437-song playlist, which I eventually whittled down to an only slightly maddening 121 tracks. My research left me amazed at the sheer number of artists from every corner of music who have released Christmas-themed songs. Below you’ll find a few highlights from my eccentric new holiday tradition; visit citybeat.com to listen to the playlist in full. (WARNING: If you’re highly sensitive, easily offended and lack a sense of humor, don’t waste your time on this occasionally politically incorrect playlist. You’ll be better off with time-honored classics like the wintertime sexual assault anthem “Baby It’s Cold Outside” or Irving Berlin’s pioneering waron-Christmas battle cry, “Happy Holiday.”)


it ’ s a n et f l ix chr i s t m as ! BY M A I JA Z U M M O Made-for-TV holiday movies are a unique genre of cinematic storytelling wherein reality does not exist. For example, a surprising amount of dead characters come back to life and no one freaks out about it; elevators are enchanted and no one freaks out about it (there’s a whole subgenre dedicated to magic elevators); or people travel through time to fix relationship mistakes… and no one freaks out about it. Workaholic single women — generally employed as bizarrely inaccurate interior decorators, journalists or “executives” — appeal to Santa’s powers to meet Mr. Right and everyone is mostly white, lonely and looking for a miracle. Which is where I come in. I am the Nielsen viewer who watches 100 percent of completely insane Hallmark/Freeform/Lifetime holiday movies. Except this year. This year I canceled cable and assumed I ruined my own life because I’m missing December’s “Countdown to Christmas,” a sacred month of movie premieres and reruns starring former primetime actors. I will suspend my disbelief forever if I can watch Melissa Joan Hart, Candace Cameron Bure or a beefy Dean Cain get sucked through a candy cane tube into the North Pole, save a quaint country inn from financial ruin via holiday decor and/or compete in a smalltown ice-sculpting tournament only to find love on the other end of a chainsaw.



Thankfully, many of the best made-for-TV treasures are on streaming platforms. (Netflix = a Christmas miracle.) And if you’re interested in wasting about two hours of your life or ruining your significant other’s evening, I recommend watching these.

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A Christmas Prince — This is a new Netflix original starring Rose McIver (an actress I follow on instagram) as Amber, a struggling New York journalist, and some generic white dude as Richard, the prince of a made-up European country called Aldovia. Amber is sent on assignment to Aldovia to cover Richard’s coronation and dig up some royal gossip on the international playboy only to be inexplicably mistaken for Richard’s sister’s new American tutor! She corrects no one and blurs some ethical lines by embedding herself with the royal family, during which time she discovers the prince is not the insensitive douche people think he is (aka he can play Christmas songs on the piano).

over her recently engaged ex-boyfriend — a dude in a leather jacket — so her stepmom sets her up on a blind date with Gosselaar on Christmas Eve. Kate effs that up and then embarrasses herself in front of her ex, from whom she is borrowing a dog? (It’s unclear if they used to own the dog together or not.) Thankfully, when the clock strikes midnight, she Groundhog Day’s it back in time to relive Christmas Eve over and over again. FOR 12 DAYS! During this repeat, she learns to appreciate strangers and acquaintances It’s a Wonderful Life-style, while also falling more in love with Gosselaar with every do-over (without him knowing/remembering). Will today ever end??

Spirit of Christmas — This is a weird ghost one. Some hot dude with a hipster fade is a rumrunner during Prohibition in Vermont. He’s murdered in the snow at his own Christmas party sometime in like the 1920s and is now cursed to come back to physical form for 12 days a year to haunt the house, which is now an inn, and try to solve his own murder. Fast forward to present day and this single lawyer lady Kate, who works way too hard and can never keep a boyfriend, gets sent to sell the inn for some plot reason. The innkeeper tells her about the ghost and that he won’t be happy about the sale. She doesn’t believe in ghosts but then — surprise — she meets one and notices he’s super hot but also kind of a dick because he only gets to be a human 12 days a year and he eats a weird amount of apples. Blah blah blah Kate falls for the dude, who had been married when he died and is ALSO A GHOST, and he’s falling for her but having mixed feelings about cheating on his wife, who is another dead person. Together, Kate and the hot ghost try to free him from his Christmas curse. They also make out.

How Sarah Got Her Wings — Spoiler: Sarah is dead. The movie starts at a church where Sarah is hanging out and helping homeless people, including a guy whose dog ran away. She offers to go look for the dog, checks outside, finds the dog under a car, picks it up and then she and the dog get hit by a bus and die. Sarah goes to heaven, which looks like a posh white sparkly hotel lobby. The angel lady at the gate tells her she isn’t on the list and that if she wants to get into heaven, she has to go back to earth to right some wrong in her life. That’s apparently interacting with her ex-boyfriend, who looks like a low-budget Chris Pratt, and helping him buy a bar? The film also includes Festivus Feats of Strength and multiple mentions of Steve Jobs as an angel.

12 Dates of Christmas — High marks for the title pun; even higher marks for the fact that it stars Mark-Paul Gosselaar as the potential love interest of Amy Smart, another character named Kate. All women are apparently named Kate. Here, Kate is a 30-something blonde chick who is pining

Holiday Engagement — Do you miss Shelley Long? Me too. But she’s in this movie! As character Hillary’s mom. Hillary is supposed to bring her high-powered attorney fiancé home for a holiday weekend (he drives a Tesla and loves golf) but when they break up, this recently fired journalist heads to the internet to find herself a fake fiancé! There’s a montage scene of potential suitors, including a bank robber and a surfer. But Hillary settles on a struggling actor named David, who she met while he was dressed like a giant cellphone. She brings David — an absolute stranger — home to her family. Antics and emotional complications ensue.

Ho-Ho-Holiday Theater

Christmas classics, merry mix-ups and a little naughty comedy BY R I C K PE N D ER

Colton Maurer as Ralphie in A Christmas Story: The Musical Photo: Gary Emord - Netzley


for the music in Broadway’s Dear Evan Hansen and an Academy Award for tunes in La La Land. Through Dec. 10. Aronoff Center, 650 Walnut St., Downtown, cincinnati.broadway.com. The Drama Workshop, a fine community theater, is presenting a laugh-a-minute holiday-themed comedy, Inspecting Carol. A regional theater company rehearsing A Christmas Carol learns that an inspector from the National Endowment for the Arts is coming. They mistakenly assume an unfamiliar auditioning actor is an NEA spy, so they treat the bewildered guy royally. When the actual inspector shows up the fun really begins. Through Dec. 17. Glenmore Playhouse, 3716 Glenmore Ave., Cheviot, thedramaworkshop.org. Back in 1961, poet Langston Hughes conceived Black Nativity, an Off-Broadway show celebrating the birth of Jesus from an African-American perspective. The show’s local incarnation by the Cincinnati Black Theatre Company has become a recurring holiday favorite, filled with music, praise and worship, song and

dance and costumes and storytelling. Dec. 8 and 9. Word of Deliverance Family Life Center, 693 Fresno Road, Forest Park, cincinnatiblacktheatre.org. Footlighters, Inc., another veteran community theater, is presenting The Great American Trailer Park Christmas Musical. It’s a sequel to a cat-fightin’, sun-worshippin’, chair-throwin’ original — The Great American Trailer Park Musical — this time decked out in tinsel and icicles. Set in Armadillo Acres, a mobilehome community in north Florida, the trailer park’s Scrooge has amnesia and neighborly love is put to the test. Part of the solution is “Keg Nog.” Through Dec. 16. Stained Glass Theatre, 802 York St., Newport, Ky., footlighters.org. An evening of raucous adult entertainment at Cincinnati Shakespeare Company awaits those attending Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some). For the 12th consecutive year, audiences will crack up at this hilarious mash-up of familiar stories from A Christmas Carol to It’s a Wonderful Life, with numerous stops for

Rudolph, Mr. Magoo, Frosty the Snowman, The Grinch and more. Definitely for grownups. Dec. 21-31. Otto M. Budig Theatre, 1195 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, cincyshakes.com. For more zaniness, stop by Arnold’s Bar & Grill’s courtyard for The Naughty List by OTR Improv. Using audience suggestions, the improvisers offer games and scenes that change nightly to reimagine the holidays in laugh-inducing ways. Dec. 12-28; arrive between 6 and 7 p.m. if you plan to order dinner. Arnold’s Bar & Grill, 210 E. Eighth St., Downtown, otrimprov.com. The Covedale Center is presenting the popular musical Annie (through Dec. 23); it’s not really a Christmas show, but several big scenes happen at Christmastime. Other theaters offering family-friendly productions include Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati (The Dancing Princesses, through Dec. 30), Cincinnati Shakespeare Company (The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, through Dec. 19), Cincinnati Children’s Theatre at the Taft Theatre (Cinderella, Dec. 9-18) and Cincinnati Playhouse (An Evening with Groucho, through Dec. 17).

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ots of theater is on Cincinnati stages during December, but if you’re seeking something holiday-specific, here’s a checklist. Now in its 27th year, Cincinnati Playhouse’s A Christmas Carol has become a beloved holiday tradition for families. It’s a beautifully staged production with top-notch professional actors, especially Bruce Cromer as Ebenezer Scrooge. The message of the importance of kindness and charity has never been more pertinent, and you’ll find no better rendition of Dickens’ 1843 tale than this one. Through Dec. 30. Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, 962 Mount Adams Circle, Mount Adams, cincyplay.com. A touring production of A Christmas Story: The Musical is at the Aronoff through Sunday. You surely know the film about Ralphie, jonesing for an official Red Ryder carbine-action, 200-shot range-model air rifle from Santa. This version features funny, heartfelt songs by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, who were recently honored with a Tony Award


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Nana’s Latkes BY E M I LY FR A N K

I ng r e d i e n t s • 5 lbs. potato — russet, nothing special • 4-ish eggs • All-purpose flour or matzo meal • Kosher salt and pepper • Canola oil • Sour cream or applesauce

Instructions Peel the potatoes and either shred by hand or with a food processor. Put shredded potatoes in a colander and get out as much liquid as possible! SQUEEEEEZE! Add potatoes to a bowl and stir in 4 beaten eggs, a teaspoon of kosher salt, ¼-ish teaspoon pepper, ¼ cup matzo meal or 3 to 4 heaping tablespoons of all purpose flour. Mix well. If it seems too wet, add more flour or matzo meal. Heat the grill on high and place a skillet with 1 inch of canola oil on the grill. Drop a couple of pieces of potato in the oil to check when it’s hot enough (it should bubbly rapidly). When it’s hot enough, drop a large forkful of potato mixture into the oil and flatten. Fill the pan with 4 to 6 latkes (depending on pan size). Resist the urge to flip them until you see the edges starting to turn brown. Gently flip and brown on the second side.   When cooked on both sides, place on a baking sheet lined with paper towels or brown bags to absorb grease. Sprinkle with Kosher salt.   Enjoy with a dollop of sour cream and/or applesauce!

Emily Frank, owner of Share: Cheesebar in Pleasant Ridge and C’est Cheese food truck, shares her Nana’s on-the-grill latke recipe. Photos: HAILEY BOLLINGER

more flour or put it through the colander again. Need a little more salt? Put it in. That’s how Jewish grandmothers roll — nothing is precise! Our recipe is done on the grill, but you can go old school for sure and do it on the stove. Same method, just prepare for your house (and hair and clothes) to smell like latkes for the next week if you stay inside! It’s not a difficult recipe, it’s just a long process and not something we make regularly.   Oh. You might notice that in some of the pictures there is champagne in hand. When Nana is around, a cocktail is usually enjoyed. Her favorite is anything sparkling! 

Cast of players: Emily Frank (standing center); Adele Reingold aka Nana or The Boss: Head of the family (seated center); Lynn Frank: Emily’s mom (left); Leslie Putz: Emily’s sister (second from left); Dan Putz: Emily’s brother in law (right); Eli, Ethan and Sadie Putz: Emily’s nephews and niece.

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rowing up, we had latkes once a year for one night of Hanukkah — we certainly don’t do them for all eight nights! These days we do it on Christmas Eve when we have our annual cousins’ sleepover. My cousin Ben and his family, as well as my sister, her family and I have a sleepover where we make latkes and celebrate Hanukkah together (regardless of when on the calendar it actually falls). On Christmas morning, we take my food truck downtown to OTR and use it to feed the homeless. This will be our third year doing it and we all look so forward to it every year. Here is the latke recipe to the best of my knowledge. We just kind of wing it when it comes to latkes. A little too wet? Put in


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A Wintry Mix

Stuff to do inside and outdoors this holiday season C O M PI L ED BY A L I S O N B A X T ER A N D M A I JA Z U M M O

Just because it’s a little cold outside, doesn’t mean there’s nothing to do but Netflix and chill. Cincinnati has numerous winter events in which to take part, like tubing, light displays and Santa-themed bar crawls. This list of more than 60 activities to do this season is just a starting point. If you don’t see anything you like, get out of the house and explore for yourself. Enjoy, and stay warm out there.

At t r a c t i o n s

Antique Christmas at the Taft Museum of Art

Victorian Holiday Village

Step back in time at this annual exhibit featuring antique ornaments, decorations and toys, including 1900s feather trees, a glowing German village, dime store finds, a jack-in-the-box display and a Belsnickel Santa candy container. The halls of the Taft will also be decked with greenery and set for a holiday feast. Through Jan. 7. $12 adults; $10 children/seniors. Taft Museum of Art, 316 Pike St., Downtown, taftmuseum.org.

The 16th-annual Victorian Holiday Village features miniature decorated Victorian homes, thousands of sparkling lights and cocoa and cookies. Please bring a nonperishable food item. 6-8:30 p.m. Dec. 7-8. Free. Ohio National Financial Services, 1 Financial Way, Montgomery, ohionational.com.

Holly Days at Heritage Village Museum Be transported to the 19th century for a simple holiday celebration. The museum’s historical building will be traditionally decorated and the village will offer storytelling, craft making, train displays and holiday treats. Noon-4 p.m. Dec. 9 and 10. $10; $6 children; free 4 and under; free members. Heritage Village Museum, 11450 Lebanon Road, Sharonville, heritagevillagecincinnati.org.

Cincinnati Choo Choo at Krohn Conservatory

ChristmasTown at the Creation Museum

WinterFest Kings Island is staying open a little later this season to ring in the holidays. The park is reviving its old-fashioned WinterFest wonderland after a 12-year hiatus, complete

San ta’s Wo rkshop f e at urin g The Shi ll it o Elve s with festive food and drinks, special holiday shows and ice skating underneath a Christmas tree-bedecked Eiffel Tower. Through Dec. 30. Tickets start at $25. Kings Island, 6300 Kings Island Drive, Mason, visit­ kingsisland.com.

Water Wonderland with Scuba Santa Never thought that seeing Santa under water would be on your wish list? Scuba Santa trades in his reindeer for a herd of seahorses at the aquarium. The man in red will be visiting a variety of exhibits throughout the day, with a special magicbubble mailbox in Penguin

From the 1950s to the 1980s, hand-built animatronic elves were displayed in the windows of Shillito’s department store downtown each holiday, bringing Santa’s workshop to life. Today, they’ve been refurbished and restored and have a new home in Mariemont, where visitors can see 12 animated scenes of elves building toys, sorting mail and more. Through Dec. 31. $4. 6940 Madisonville Road, Mariemont, thesantaworkshop.com.

Palooza. Through Dec. 31. $24.99 adults; $16.99 children. Newport Aquarium, 1 Aquarium Way, Newport, Ky., newportaquarium.com.

Holiday Junction Featuring Brickopolis Every year, families make the Cincinnati Museum Center a hub of holiday celebration during the Duke Energy Holiday Trains display. The

trains won’t be on display this year because of renovations, but the center is displaying 12,000 square feet of fun at Holiday Junction Featuring Brickopolis. There will be custom LEGO landscapes featuring whimsical scenes, holiday characters and motorized trains. Through Jan. 1. $10.50 adults; $9.50 seniors; $8.50 children. Cincinnati museum Center, 1301

P H O T O : K rystan K railler

Western Ave., Queensgate, cincymuseum.org.

Christmas at EnterTRAINment Junction EnterTRAINment junction invites all of Santa’s little helpers to see a magical indoor train display with a North Pole walk-through: watch as Santa’s elves pack gifts and Mrs. Claus bakes cookies for the man in red after his big night — just keep an eye peeled for reindeer. Through Jan. 1. $14.95. EnterTRAINment Junction, 7379 Squire Court, West Chester, entertrainmentjunction.com.

Holiday Toy Trains at Behringer-Crawford Museum With over 250 feet of model train tracks, a Charles Dickens display and an appearance from Thomas the Tank engine, this event is for kids and locomotive lovers alike. Through Jan. 14. $9 adults; $8 seniors; $5 kids; free members. BehringerCrawford Museum, 1600 Montague Road, Covington, Ky., bcmuseum.org.


Christmas Glow at Land of Illusion

This haunted Halloween attraction transforms for the season. Instead of ghosts

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Back when Christ was born, no one was able to videotape it, obviously, but now a reenactment can be seen at the Creation Museum’s live nativity. Get a 360-degree view of the Garden of Lights multicolored display as you take a zip line through the park. Family dining is available, with hot chocolate and wandering costumed bible characters. 5-8 p.m. Dec. 8-23 and Dec. 26-30. Free admission. The Creation Museum, 2800 Bullittsburg Church Road, Petersburg, Ky., creationmuseum.org.

The Krohn’s holiday show stuffs the conservatory full of red poinsettias, evergreens, cyclamen, amaryllis and more seasonal plants. Botanical architecture complements miles of miniature train tracks with historical buildings, splashing water and festive décor. Through Jan. 7. $7 adults; $4 youth; free 4 and under. Krohn Conservatory, 1501 Eden Park Drive, Mount Adams, cincinnatiparks.com.



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The Green Derby Kentucky Bistro, in Historic West Newport, is open for Christmas Eve and New Year’s Celebrations! Featuring Kentucky and Bistro Fare, 16 craft beers on draught, and our extensive Bourbon bar! Free Parking!

F ES T IVAL OF L I GHTS AT T HE CINCINNAT I ZOO This year marks 35 years of the annual PNC Festival of Lights. The “Wild Wonderland” features a staggering 3 million LED lights on display throughout the zoo, the BB&T Toyland Express, a synchronized light display on Swan Lake, roast-yourown s’mores, lifesize animal lanterns throughout the park (including hippos) and plenty of holiday cheer — including peppermint schnapps or Irish cream-spike hot chocolate. Through Jan. 1. $18 adults; $12 children/seniors. Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, 3400 Vine St., Avondale, cincinnatizoo.org.

and ghouls, find a glowing drive-through light display commemorating “Christmas Around the World,” with a twinkling Eiffel Tower, the Taj Mahal and Big Ben. Through Dec. 30. $16 per vehicle; $14 with canned food donation. Land of Illusion, 8762 Thomas Road, Middletown, landofi llusion.com.

Holiday Lights on the Hill at Pyramid Hill

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Holiday in Lights at Sharon Woods

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Snuggle in your cozy car with your family and listen to Christmas music. This two-mile-long drive takes you through a magical wonderland of lights. Through Dec 31. $20 per carload Monday-Thursday; $25 per carload Friday-Sunday; $15 members. Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park & Museum, 1763 Hamilton Cleves Road, Hamilton, pyramidhill.org.

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This holiday tradition has been a beloved family staple for 27 years. A one-mile drive-through roadway display takes you into the North Pole as your radio channel pumps out holiday tunes via WARM98. Look out your window to see Santa and his elves, candy canes, animals from the ark and more. Through Dec. 31. $13 per

car. Sharon Woods, 11450 Lebanon Road, Sharonville, holidayinlights.com.

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Christmas Nights of Lights at Coney Island

Support Visionaries and Voices artists while shopping for holiday gifts. There will be a gallery exhibition and heavily discounted works of art in the bargain garage. 5-8 p.m. Dec. 7. Visionaries and Voices, 3841 Spring Grove Ave., Northside, visionariesandvoices.com.

This two-and-a-half mile long journey features more than 1 million LED lights. Watch from the comfort of your car as the lights change and form different Christmas characters, synchronized to holiday radio music. Through Jan. 1. $6 per person; free children 3 and under. Coney Island, 6201 Kellogg Ave., California, coneyislandpark.com.


Bourbon & Bacon 2017

This delicious event (hosted by CityBeat) features bacon and assorted pork bites from local restaurants and plenty of bourbon for you to sip. 5:30-8:30 p.m. Dec. 6. $55. New Riff Distillery, 24 Distillery Way, Newport, Ky., citybeat.com.

One Night One Craft: Needle Felted Ornaments Purr-fect for that one friend who is impossible to shop for, this class lets you create your own personal ornament inspired by a pet. 6-8 p.m. Dec. 6. $15; $10 members. Contemporary Arts Center,

Holly Dazed

Ugly Sweater Party at Listermann Wear an ugly sweater to the taproom to enjoy a hot chocolate bar, board games and a $10 white elephant gift exchange alongside their latest brews. 6-11 p.m. Dec. 8. Free admission. Listermann Brewing Co., 1621 Dana Ave., Norwood, facebook. com/listermannbrewing.

Cincideutsch Christkindlmarkt The sixth-annual Cincideutsch Christkindlmarkt adds a bit of Bavarian whimsy to Fountain Square with a festive outdoor shopping destination modeled after a traditional German Christmas market. Along with goods from local artisans and crafters, there will be German fare and hot glühwein. 4-10 p.m. Dec. 8;

11 a.m.-11 p.m. Dec. 9. Free admission. Fountain Square, Fifth and Vine streets, Downtown, cincideutsch.com.

Sweet Treats from the Greeks Holy Trinity-St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church hosts a weekend-long pastry sale. Purchase your favorite Greek pastries and hors d’oeuvres in time for holiday entertaining. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Dec. 8; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Dec. 9; noon-3 p.m. Dec. 10. Prices vary. Holy Trinity-St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, 7000 Winton Road, Finneytown. holytrinity. oh.goarch.org.

Choo Choo, Chocolate and Cheer Holiday toy trains chug through cities and holiday landscapes. Cedric Michael Cox will be on hand to lead an interactive art experience and Santa will be making a trip to see everyone at the hot chocolate bar. 5:30-8:30 p.m. Dec. 8. $5-$9. Behringer-Crawford Museum, 1600 Montague Road, Covington, Ky., eventbrite.com/e/ choo-choo-chocolate-cheertickets-40105353191.

A Holiday with the Harpers at the Cincinnati Nature Center This art exhibit features works by Charley, Edie and

Brett Harper that reflect the wonders of winter. Dec. 9-31. Free admission. Cincinnati Nature Center, Rowe Woods, 4949 Tealtown Road, Milford, cincynature.org.

Cincinnati SantaCon Don’t drink and fly your sleigh — the 10th-annual SantaCon bar crawl is on its way. Dress in your best Santa costume or other holiday-themed wear and trek to various bars and pubs to spread Christmas cheer. Noon-midnight Dec. 9. Free to participate. Leaves from JACK Casino, 1000 Broadway St., Pendleton, cincinnatisantacon.com.

Breakfast with Santa Head to the Millennium Hotel for a breakfast buffet, face painting, ornament decorating and a visit from Santa. Bring your own camera. RSVP recommended. 9-11 a.m. Dec. 9 and 16. $14.95; $6.95 ages 4-12; free 4 and under. Millennium Hotel, 150 W. Fifth St., Downtown, 513-352-2120.

Weekend Carriage Rides at Macy’s Celebration Station Enjoy views of Fountain Square and its giant Christmas tree and ice skaters having fun under the dazzling lights as you trot through downtown. Noon-5 p.m. Dec. 9-10. Free. Boards

at the corner of Fifth and Race streets, Downtown, downtowncincinnati.com.

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Macy’s Downtown Dazzle On Saturdays, Santa rappels down the side of the Huntington Center to the Macy’s rooftop in order to start a firework display. The program includes family-friendly choir performances. 6:30 p.m. Dec. 9. Free. Fountain Square, Fifth and Vine streets, Downtown, myfountainsquare.com.

Merry COV-mas Pub Crawl Head to six Covington bars to get in the spirit with spirits. Dress in your best/worst holiday gear and stop by The Gruff, Keystone Bar & Grill, Smoke Justis, Molly Malone’s and the Covington Night Bazaar for karaoke, costume contests and deals on drinks. Starts at 6 p.m. Dec. 9. Free. Leavse from The Gruff, 129 E. Second St., Covington, Ky., facebook.com/ braxtonbrewingcompany.


Fern Holiday Market Plant and design studio Fern hosts a holiday market with Collective Field Services, featuring Christmas trees from White Oak Gardens; curated holiday gifts; wreaths from Una Floral; mini photo sessions; holiday crafts for kids; and signature cocktails by Aaron Strasser. Noon-8

THE CIT Y F LE A HOL IDAY MARKE T City Flea turns Washington Park into one big shopping cart. It’s a great place to do last-minute shopping or pick up something for yourself, because you deserve it — you’ve been good this year, too. This market features local makers, crafters and artisans plus festive refreshments. 5-10 p.m. Dec. 16. Free admission. Washington Park, 1230 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, thecityfl ea.com.

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P H O T O : spca cincinnati

M o u n t A d am s R e i n d o g P ara d e Dress your pets in holiday gear for the annual Mount Adams Reindog Parade. The parade features multiple costume categories including those for small dogs, large dogs and dog/owner look alike. Prizes will be awarded for the most creative, festive and unique costumes. Registration begins at noon. Donations go to support the SPCA. 12:30 p.m. Dec. 9; parade begins at 2 p.m. There will be a fee to register this year. The Monastery, 1055 Saint Paul Place, Mount Adams, spcacincinnati.org.

p.m. Dec. 9. Free admission. Fern, 6040 Hamilton Ave., College Hill, facebook. com/fernstudiocincinnati.

Second Sunday on Main: Winter Edition The summer block party moves into the winter season with a special edition for holiday shopping and holiday cheer. Revel OTR will host a pop-up bar, Mr. Young’s Christmas trees and wreaths will be for sale and there will be live entertainment from the likes of the Queen CIty Sisters. Noon-5 p.m. Dec. 10. Free admission. Main Street between 12th and Liberty streets, Over-the-Rhine, facebook. com/OTRSSOM.

OTR Rail Dog Parade

Luminaria Night Lights at the Cincinnati Observatory This is the 42nd year for the Mount Lookout tradition. Neighborhood streets will

Menorah Building Kids ages 8 to 13 will be given a LEGO menorahbuilding kit and have 20 minutes to complete the project to win prizes. 5:30-7:30 p.m. Dec. 11. $12; $10 members. Mayerson JCC, 8485 Ridge Road, Amberley Village, facebook.com/mayerson.jcc.

Bears & Beers Benefit for St. Joseph Orphanage Braxton hosts an event to give back. Build a bear for a child in need while brewery elves spread holiday cheer with Graeter’s alcoholic ice cream floats. 5:30-9:30 p.m. Dec. 14. $24; includes supplies and drink tickets. Braxton Brewing Co., 27 W. Seventh St., Covington, Ky., braxtonbrewing.com.

Torch to Kiln: Holiday Plate + Coaster Fuse glass components into your own holiday-

themed plates or coasters. 2-4 p.m. Dec. 16. $40. Brazee Street Studios, 4426 Brazee St., Oakley, brazeestreetstudios.com.

Art on Vine A fast, fun and easy way to buy gifts for your loved ones, handmade by local artists. Noon-7 p.m. Dec. 17. Free admission. Rhinegeist, 1910 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, artonvinecincy.com.

Ugly Sweater Party at the Cincinnati Art Museum Think your tackiest holiday sweater is a work of art? Wear it to the CAM for an evening featuring a cash bar, food and after-hours access (and free admission) to Iris van Herpen: Transforming Fashion. 5-8 p.m. Dec. 21. Free admission. Cincinnati Art Museum, 953 Eden Park Drive, Mount Adams, cincinnatiartmuseum.org.

Winter Solstice Celebration Celebrate the solstice at Imago with an optional potluck, personal reflection, storytelling, art making and the history of solstice celebrations from around the globe. 6-8:30 p.m. Dec. 22. Free but RSVP online. Imago, 700 Enright Ridge, Price Hill, imagoearth.org.

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The OTR Kennel Club hosts the fifth-annual Rail Dog Parade from the dog park at Washington Park to Second Sunday on Main. Dress your furry friends in all their holiday finery. 2-4 p.m. Dec. 10. Free. Washington Park, 1230 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, searchable on Facebook.

light up with luminaria and the observatory will open its buildings and telescopes for exploring and viewing. There will be carolers, a gift shop and hot drinks. 6:30-8:30 p.m. Dec. 10. Free. Cincinnati Observatory, 3489 Observatory Place, Mount Lookout, cincinnati­ observatory.org.


Santa-Bration at Carol Ann’s Carousel Make winter-inspired crafts and snap a selfi e with Santa. 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Dec. 22-24. Free admission. Carol Ann’s Carousel, 8 W. Mehring Way, Downtown, cincinnatiparks.com.

Santa’s Workshop at Washington Park Santa stops in the park on Saturdays in December with his elves to make gifts, ornaments and take requests. Write a wish list to Santa and get ready to take free photos. 1-3 p.m. Saturdays through Dec. 23. Free. Washington Park, 1230 Elm St., Over-theRhine, washingtonpark.org.

Let it Snow: A Holiday Musical Journey Laser Light Show A soundtrack of holiday classics from the likes of Frank Sinatra and Chuck Berry is accompanied by a laser light show. Through Dec. 23. $8. Drake Planetarium, Norwood High School, 2020 Sherman Ave., Norwood, drakeplanetarium.org.

Christmas Eve Dinner Cruise

Indian Creek Distillery 6 generations of whiskey making on the historic Staley Mill Farm. Uniquely Small Batch,

Grab the family and take a trip down the Ohio River on Christmas Eve. 5:307:30 p.m. Dec. 24. $50 adults; $30 children; $27 adults sightseeing only;

$18 children sightseeing only. BB Riverboats, 101 Riverboat Row, Newport, Ky., bbriverboats.com.

Latkapalooza 2017 While the Christians are away, the Chosen will play. The Jewish Federation’s Young Adult Division and Meyerson JCC host this annual dance party featuring drink specials and raffle prizes. 8:30 p.m.-1 a.m. Dec. 24. Free admission. Shooks Bar & Dance, 920 Race St., Downtown, jewishcincinnati.org.

The North Pole Express HO-HO-HOld onto your hats. Presented by LM&M Railroad, this hour-long train to the North Pole features cookies, hot chocolate and an appearance from Santa and his elves. Through Dec. 24. $22 adults; $18 kids. LM&M Railroad, 127 S. Mechanic Road, Lebanon, lebanonrr.com.

Kujichagulia Kwanzaa Celebration Kujichagulia, one of the principals of Kwanzaa, represents self determination — to define, name and create for yourself. The evening includes a manifestation activity. 6-8 p.m. Dec. 27. Free. Sweet Sistah Splash, 1218 Sycamore St., Overthe-Rhine, facebook.com/ sweetsistahsplash.

The Boar’s Head and Yule Log Festival This medieval pageant comes to Christ Church Cathedral for the 78th year. The performances feature characters in costume — lords, ladies, hunters, cooks, knights and more — with ceremonial mince pie, plum pudding and a roasted boar’s head. 5 p.m. Dec. 30; 2:30 and 5 p.m. Dec. 31. Free but tickets required. Christ Church Cathedral, 318 E. Fourth St., Downtown, boarsheadfestival.com.

Franciscan Christmas Display A Christmas crèche display with nativities from around the world, a Dickens village, a decorated tree, model trains and more take over the Christian Moerlein event center. Includes a live nativity featuring goats, sheep and donkeys. Through Jan. 1. Free admission. Christian Moerlein Taproom, 1621 Moore St., Over-the-Rhine, facebook.com/sfschurch.

The Pedal Wagon Polar Bear Express While the weather outside is frightful, pedaling on the Polar Bear Express is a cheerful way to warm up your body temp. The 15-passenger pedal-powered wagon stops at local bars in downtown and OTR for drink

ICE RINK AT F OUNTAIN SQUARE Whether you’re a professional skater or someone who can barely stand on skates, this slice of winter wonderland on Fountain Square is open to everyone. Skate rental is available and concessions include snacks, hot chocolate and alcohol. Through Feb. 19. $6 admission; $4 skate rental. Fountain Square, Fifth and Vine streets, Downtown, myfountainsquare.com.

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Santamania 2017 It’s three days of a Punk Christmas at the Northside Yacht Club. There will be five stages (including in the freezer and the kitchen) featuring bands like Swim Team, The Dopamines, Smut, Leggy, Mardou and more. Dec. 15-17. $10 at the door. Northside Yacht Club, 4227 Spring Grove Ave., Northside, northsideyachtclub.com.

specials. Through Feb. 2018. $20-$25 per person public; $245-$295 private full wagon. Leaves from HalfCut, 1126 Walnut St., Over-the-Rhine, pedalwagon.com.

Music & Onstage Happy Holidays with the Mighty Wurlitzer

Albee Theater’s unique Mighty Wurlitzer organ plays holiday favorites with whistles, bells and special effects. 7 p.m. Dec. 7. $26; $21 students/seniors. Aronoff Center, 650 Walnut St., Downtown, cincinnatiarts.org.

Holiday Pops

Black Nativity Originating in 1961 and performed Off Broadway, Black Nativity is a joyous retelling of the birth of Christ, with Gospel music, costuming, prophetic storytelling and dance. Presented by the Cincinnati Black Theatre Company. 7:30 p.m. Dec. 8; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 9. $30. Word of Deliverance Family

A 1940’s Radio Christmas Carol Bound Book Theater Company presents the sequel to The 1940 Radio Hour. It’s Christmas Eve in 1943 and the Feddington Players present their contemporary take on A Christmas Carol. Shows include dinner. 7 p.m. Dec. 8 and 9; 2 p.m. Dec. 10. $18; $16 seniors; $10 children. Mt. Washington United Methodist Church, 6365 Corbly Road, Mount Washington, mtwashumc.org.

An Acoustic Christmas with Over the Rhine Local Folk/Americana superheroes Over the Rhine create Christmas magic with a wintry mix of holiday classics and songs from their oeuvre. 8 p.m. Dec. 8; 8 p.m. Dec. 9; 2 p.m. Dec. 10. $40$65. Memorial Hall, 1225 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, memorialhallotr.com.

Giada Valenti: Love Under the Christmas Tree This Italian singer takes center stage to perform romantic interpretations of classic Pop songs and holiday favorites. 7 p.m. Dec. 10. $35-$100 VIP. Aronoff Center, 650 Walnut St., Downtown, cincinnatiarts.org.

Irish Christmas in America Produced by fiddler Oisín Mac Diarmada, this show features Irish music and dance. 2-5 p.m. Dec. 10. $25 adults; $18 children/ students/military; $30 day of show. Irish Heritage Center of Greater Cincinnati, 3905 Eastern Ave., Columbia Tusculum, irishcenterofcincinnati.com.

98 Degrees at Christmas The local heartthrob boy band performs a hometown holiday show of classic Christmas songs. The 4 p.m. show will benefit Lachey’s bartender Ellie Richardson, who was shot leaving work. 4 and 8 p.m. Dec. 15. $50.50-$70.50. Aronoff Center, 650 Walnut St., Downtown, cincinnatiarts.org.

Christmas with Jennifer Nettles Sing along as the Country superstar puts on a holiday show for the family with classics for kids and adults. 8 p.m. Dec. 19. $33.50-$64.50. Taft Theatre, 317 E. Fifth St., Downtown, tafttheatre.org.

A Christmas Story The Musical The hilarious film transforms into a witty holiday musical to delight children and grown-ups alike. Watch as Ralphie Parker desperately tries to make sure his No. 1

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Just a couple weeks before Santa slides down that chimney, enjoy a night of cheer, holiday spirit and classic Christmas songs with the Cincinnati Pops. 8 p.m. Dec. 8; 2 and 8 p.m. Dec. 9; 2 p.m. Dec. 10. $25-$115 adults; $15 children. Music Hall, 1241 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, cincinnatisymphony.org.

Life Center, 693 Fresno Road, Forest Park, cincinnatiblacktheatre.org.


P H O T O : mi k k i schaff n e r photography

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CI N CI NN AT I . A LTPE RKS.C OM “ A C h r i s t m a s C a r o l” The tradition returns. Watch as the miserly Scrooge miraculously transforms his view of humanity (just in time for Christmas), realizing its never too late to change your ways. Through Dec. 30. $34.90-$75.90. Playhouse in the Park, 962 Mt. Adams Circle, Mount Adams, cincyplay.com.

choice in toys is under his tree this year. Through Dec. 10. $30-$103. Aronoff Center, 650 Walnut St., Downtown, cincinnatiarts.org.

The Naughty List Using audience suggestions, OTR Improv improvisers offer games and scenes that change nightly to reimagine the holidays in laugh-inducing ways. Dec. 12-28; arrive between 6 and 7 p.m. if you plan to order dinner. Arnold’s Bar & Grill, 210 E. Eighth St., Downtown, otrimprov.com.

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The Nutcracker


This favorite Cincinnati holiday tradition returns as the ballet’s professional dancers perform sparkling choreography to Tchaikovsky’s beloved score, played live by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. Dec. 14-24. $36-$125. Music Hall, 1241 Elm St., Over-theRhine, cballet.org.

The Great American Trailer Park Christmas Musical A funny spin on the classic Scrooge story. Based in Armadillo Acres, a mobile home community in Florida, neighborly love is put to the test during a freak bout of amnesia. You can rest assured there will be more beer than cookies. Through Dec. 16. $23. Footlighters Inc., 802 York St., Newport, Ky., footlighters.org.

A Christmas Carol The Moron Report rewrites the Dickens classic. Wear your ugliest sweater, bring cookies for a cookie contest and listen to pre-show carols from The Mistle-Tunes. 7:30 p.m. doors Dec. 17. Free admission. The Leapin Lizard Lounge, 724 Main St., Covington, Ky., facebook. com/themoronreport.

Mannheim Steamroller Christmas Mannheim Steamroller Christmas classics combine with Grammy winner Chip Davis’ Fresh Aire series. 7 p.m. Dec. 17. $38.50-$78.50. Aronoff Center, 650 Walnut St., Downtown, cincinnatiarts.org.

96 Rocks Mistletoe Rock Show Christmas rocks with Seether, Shaman’s Harvest and The Dead Deads. 6:50 p.m. Dec. 20. $29.50-$75. Taft Theatre, 317 E. Fifth St., Downtown, tafttheatre.org.

The Trans-Siberian Orchestra The Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s The Ghosts of Christmas Eve returns to the U.S. Bank Arena stage. Famous for its Rock opera stylings, the tale follows a runaway teen who breaks free from her home to find a theater full of old spirits. 4 and 8 p.m. Dec. 21. $40-$76. U.S.

Bank Arena, 100 Broadway St., Downtown, usbankarena.com.

Every Christmas Story Ever Told (and Then Some) A silly spin on all things Christmas. This play pokes fun at holiday classics like Rudolph, Frosty and A Christmas Carol, all lampooned with the help of three high-octane actors and tipsy Santa. Dec. 21-31. $38. Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, 1195 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, cincyshakes.com.

Two Inch Winky Christmas Show Cincy Punkers Two Inch Winky play their annual and much-anticipated live Christmas show. 9:30 p.m. Dec. 23. Free. Southgate House Revival Lounge, 111 E. Sixth St., Newport, Ky., southgatehouse.com.

The Dancing Princesses In order to ensure their safety, five princesses are locked up every night by their father, the king. But when he notices their shoes all scuffed up in the morning, he starts to wonder what’s going on. A family-friendly fairy tale. Through Dec. 30. $55 adults; $31 students; $27 children. Ensemble Theatre, 1127 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, ensemblecincinnati.org.

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Canine Costume Ideas

The 28th-annual Reindog Parade takes over the streets on Mount Adams on Saturday with a festive procession of pooches dressed in their cleverest holiday wear. If you feel like entering your dog in the contest, here are some really genius human-animal couples’ costume ideas. You’re welcome. • Santa and Rudolph, except your dog is Santa (with a hat and long white beard) — flipped it! • Gingerbread man (dog) and oven (you) • Wrapped present (dog) and Christmas tree (you) • Christmas tree (still you) and Christmas light bulb (dog) • Baby Jesus (dog) and Mary and Joseph (you and friend/partner) • Olaf from Frozen (you, ha) and your dog is either Anna or Elsa — even better if your dog is a Chihuahua and you can put a wig on him/her • Any variation of A Christmas Story works. Dog is a leg lamp and you are Ralphie. Dog is a leg lamp and you are a “Fragile” box. Dog is Ralphie in Western wear with a Red Ryder BB gun and you are a cat burglar. Small dog is a Bumpus hound and you are a turkey… • Fruitcake (dog) and a monk (you) • Scrooge (you) and ghost of Christmas past, present or future or Jacob Marley (dog), depending on how well your dog tolerates chains • Shovel (you) and snow pile (dog) or dog is a dog but you are a snow pile with pee on you


ART: A Sense of Home: New Quilts by Heather Jones continues at the Taft Museum of Art. See review on page 38. Onstage: The Dancing Princesses is a musical fairy tale with an inventive score and choreography. See review on page 38.

EVENT: Bourbon & Bacon If you like eating divine swine or drinking high-quality Kentucky liquor, head to New Riff for CityBeat’s Bourbon & Bacon party. Guests will enjoy samples of bacon-inspired dishes from local eateries including Holtman’s, Django Western Taco, BrewRiver GastroPub and more. Wash down the pork with whiskey from Buffalo Trace, Old Forester and Indian Creek Distillery, among others, or just grab a wine or beer. Tickets include 10 drink samples and all-youcan-snack food. 5:30-8:30 p.m. Wednesday. $55. New Riff Distilling, 24 Distillery Way, Newport, Ky., citybeat. com. — MAIJA ZUMMO

P H O T O : hailey bollinger

Ongoing Shows THURSDAY 07

COMEDY: Rob Little Meet Rob Little, comedian, TV host and ordained minister. The latter he undertook as way to perform marriage ceremonies for friends, of which he’s done about four. “If it’s a good friend, I’m down to do it,” he says. “I’ve been asked by a few fans and it’s always like, ‘I don’t really know you and it’s hard to tailor it to you.’ Most of the time I’m booked anyway.” The process took no time at all. “Literally, how fast can you type your name and address? There’s no Jesus quiz,” he says. “There’s nothing to it. Super easy.” Through Sunday. $20. Liberty Funny Bone, 7518 Bales St., Liberty Township, liberty.funnybone. com. — P.F. WILSON


HOLIDAY: Holiday Pops Get into the holiday spirit with a little help from the Cincinnati Pops and conductor John Morris Russell. The Pops will perform a variety

of holiday favorites with help from crooner Denzal Sinclaire and dancers and singers from the Classical Roots Choir and May Festival Chorus. Bring a toy to donate to St. Vincent de Paul’s Angel Toy Program. 8 p.m. Friday; 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday; 8 p.m. Sunday. $25-$95; $15 kids. Music Hall, 1241 Elm St., Over-theRhine, cincinnatisymphony. org. — KENNEDY PONDER


Music: Multifaceted Blues Rocker Eric Johanson plays the Taft Theatre. See Sound Advice on page 50.

HOLIDAY: Mount Adams Reindog Parade If Fido is feeling more like Rudolph than the Grinch’s Max this season, take the pup to Mount Adams for the 28th-annual Reindog Parade. Dogs are encouraged to dress in holiday costumes for a festive procession through the neighborhood (led by Santa) with prizes in categories

ONSTAGE: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer at Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, OTR (through Dec. 9) ONSTAGE: Neverwhere at Know Theatre, OTR (through Dec. 17)

including small dog, large dog, dog/owner look alike and multiple dogs. Proceeds benefit the SPCA Cincinnati. 12:30-1:45 p.m. registration; 2 p.m. parade Saturday. Free. 1055 St. Paul Place, Mount Adams, spcacincinnati.org. — MAIJA ZUMMO HOLIDAY: Merry COV-Mas Pub Crawl ’Tis the season to get a little rowdy with your friends. This Merry COV-mas crawl — hosted by Braxton and New Belgium — leads you on a journey through Covington with stops at local favorite watering holes including The Gruff, Keystone, Smoke Justis and Molly Malone’s. Dress in your best holiday attire — or should we say

worst? — because there will be prizes for the most festive outfit. Spread Christmas cheer throughout the Cov and indulge in (most likely) a bad decision or two. After the bar crawl, there will be a mini festival at the Covington Night Bazaar with wobbly karaoke. 6-9 p.m. Saturday. Free. Leaves from The Gruff, 129 E. Second St., Covington, Ky., facebook.com/braxtonbrewingcompany. — ALISON BAXTER EVENT: Winter Covington Night Bazaar With the theme of “The Night Sky,” the Winter Covington Night Bazaar at Roebling Point will celebrate “creative placemaking” with a shopping-friendly pop-up featuring local music, local beer and crafts and goodies from local artists. Just in time to get some holiday shopping done, find one-ofa-kind pieces for yourself or a gift for someone else. (This event follows the COVmas Pub Crawl, so get ready CONTINUES ON PAGE 36

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ONSTAGE: A Christmas Carol Of course Charles Dickens’ 1843 tale of a miserly, mean-spirited man scared by ghosts of Christmas past, present and future into a generous and loving philanthropist has become a beloved holiday tradition. As staged by the Cincinnati Playhouse, it also happens to be a great piece of theater with an outstanding cast of local and national professional actors who give the show its warmth and gentle humor. As much as Bruce Cromer is a star playing Ebenezer Scrooge, so is the Playhouse’s gorgeous Victorian London set with

buildings that glisten, pivot and open up to warm interiors. It’s a must-see show this time of year. Through Dec. 30. $30-$85. Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, 962 Mount Adams Circle, Mount Adams, cincyplay.com. — RICK PENDER

The face of Christmas



to have a great night with friends, loved ones and that noisy neighbor of yours.) 6-10 p.m. Saturday; 4-10 p.m. Sunday. Free admission. Roebling Point, Third and Court streets, Covington, Ky., facebook.com/covingtonnightbazaar. — ALISON BAXTER ART: Cincinnati Art Book Fair The Cincinnati Art Book Fair is a two-day fair featuring the work of independent publishers and collections, on view at Anytime Dept. gallery in Hoffner Lodge in Northside. Saturday will feature a panel discussion moderated by Anytime’s staff, and Sunday’s program will include a film screening by Chicago-based fine artist and curator Jesse Malmed. Participants in the fair itself include the Camp Washington-based Archive of Creative Culture, Westwood’s Basketshop Gallery, the New York-based 8-Ball Community and the University of Cincinnati’s

socially engaged, small-run, Risograph-based art book press, Special Collections. Noon-7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday with special events at 8 p.m. both days. Free. Anytime Dept., 4120 Hamilton Ave., Northside, cincinnatiartbookfair.com. — MARIA SEDA-REEDER EVENT: Cyclones Star Wars Night A long time ago (1977) in a galaxy far, far, away (Hollywood) emerged the ultimate sci-fi fantasy, Star Wars. Forty years later, the franchise is still kicking, with Star Wars: Episode VIII − The Last Jedi hitting theaters in less than a week (but who’s counting?). The Cyclones want to kick off the celebration with an evening of wookies, ewoks, other staple Star Wars characters and, of course, hockey. Dress for a photo-op with some of the crew from the likes of the Death Star and Millennium Falcon, and stick around after the game to bid on specialty jerseys. 6:30 p.m. doors; 7:30 p.m. puck drop Saturday. $15-$27.50

advance; $17-$29.50 day of. U.S. Bank Arena, 100 Broadway St., Downtown, cycloneshockey.com. — ERIN COUCH HOLIDAY: Macy’s Downtown Dazzle Looking for a less traditional way to meet Santa? Watch him rappel down the Huntington Center to the Macy’s rooftop to kick off a holiday fireworks display. Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati’s wicked stepsisters, from the current production of Cinderella, will be on hand to sing festive family favorites with the Cincinnati Boy Choir before the show. 5:30 p.m. choirs; 6:30 p.m. Santa Saturday. Free. Fountain Square, Fifth and Vine streets, Downtown, downtowncincinnati.com. — KENNEDY PONDER HOLIDAY: Cincinnati SantaCon The following event may contain graphic images of Cincinnatians “celebrating” Christmas. This 10th-annual Cincinnati SantaCon festive bar crawl returns Saturday, filled with beer and holiday



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EVENT: An Evening with Puddles Pity Party It was a big year for clowns. With the feature film adaptation of Stephen King’s horrifying novel It raking in nearly $700 million worldwide and inspiring a slew of equally disturbing Pennywise Halloween costumes, clowns definitely took over pop culture. The trend continues at Bogart’s with the 7-foot singing clown sensation Puddles Pity Party, aka Mike Geier, whose crooning is surprisingly angelic and comes in a close second to the eclectic mix of artists he covers, which includes Lorde, Leonard Cohen, Blink 182 and Pixies. If you can get over the creepy clown getup, you might actually enjoy this atypical circus performer’s hidden talent. 7 p.m. Wednesday. $39.50$145. Bogart’s, 2621 Vine St., Corryville, bogarts.com. — ERIN COUCH


P H O T O : provided


MUSIC: Ill Poetic Ill Poetic, the Hip Hop artist who cut his teeth in Ohio before relocating to San Diego (where he has opened up his own record shop), has possessed an artistry that transcends genre stereotypes since he started, from the smart, inventive rhymes of his early duo Definition to his wildly imaginative production on releases like The Silhouette Project and Synesthesia: The Yellow Movement, as well as mash-up projects in which he made couplings like OutKast/Nine Inch Nails and Marvin Gaye/Pink Floyd sound entirely plausible. On many levels, he has lived up to his name over more than 15 years of making music. That skill was on display once again on November’s rich, remarkable An Idiot’s Guide to Anarchy, his first full-length effort since 2007. The musical and emotional depth of the album is as revealing as the growth rings of a thick tree — you can trace the wisdom his curiosity and maturity have earned him over the past 10 years. Featuring collaborations with Cincy artists like The Ingrid Rachel Project, Devin Burgess and Piakhan, the music on Anarchy straddles and defies genre boundaries (Funk, Soul, Industrial music and Rock find their way into the mix), while Ill Poetic is at the top of his already top-notch lyrical game. His homecoming show this weekend features an excellent roster of some of Cincinnati’s best Hip Hop acts, with performances by Burgess, Allen4President, Counterfeit Money Machine and Sons of Silverton. Ill Poetic is playing with a full backing band. 10 p.m. Saturday. Admission is a pay-what-you-can sliding scale. Northside Yacht Club, 4227 Spring Grove Ave., Northside, northsideyachtclub.com. — MIKE BREEN

HOLIDAY: Boar’s Head and Yule Log Festival

Ticket Distribution Christ Church Cathedral’s Boar’s Head and Yule Log Festival, presented on Dec. 30 and 31, has been a Cincinnati tradition since 1940 — the church’s rector at the time had fond memories of such a festival at his Episcopal prep school in upstate New York. The medieval Christmas-story pageant features a cast of some 200, as well as music, traditional English Christmas customs and even a live hawk. Demand for the free tickets to the four performances (at 2:30 and 5 p.m. each day) is so great that you have to be in line at

8 a.m. this Saturday for the distribution. There’s a limit of two tickets per person. 8 a.m. Saturday. Free tickets. Christ Church Cathedral, 318 E. Fourth St., Downtown, boarsheadfestival.com. — STEVEN ROSEN


MUSIC: Peter Oren brings his earthy baritone to MOTR Pub. See Sound Advice on page 50.


MUSIC: The Topshelf Records Tour comes to the Southgate House Revival. See Sound Advice on page 51.

YOUR WEEKEND TO DO LIST: Local.citybeat.com

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cheer. Dress in your best Santa outfit or other holidaythemed costume and head to JACK Casino for your first stop. Then adventure around downtown to pubs and taverns and enjoy drink specials and caroling with your friends. You must be 21 or older to participate. Registration is required and a tip sheet on being your best Santa self is available online. Adults can have some holiday fun, too. Right? Noon-midnight Saturday. Free; donations encouraged for The Cure Starts Now. JACK Casino, 1000 Broadway St., Pendleton, cincinnatisantacon.com. — ALISON BAXTER


Stitches in Time


Two Taft quilt shows contrast the traditional with the modern BY K AT H Y S C H WA R T Z



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f the inventive 18th- and 19th-century women of the Elegant Geometry: British and American Patchwork Quilts exhibit at the Taft Museum of Art were alive today, they’d likely be swapping ideas with Heather Jones, a local quilter who has a solo companion show. In A Sense of Home, Jones honors her predecessors and the Taft’s refined art and architecture while staying true to her own modern style. Jones’ exhibit in the Taft’s cozy Sinton Gallery is part of a series in which local contemporary artists are invited to respond to the museum’s collection, décor or history. (Previous participants include cut-paper artist Kristine Donnelly and painter Cedric Michael Cox.) Jones, who regularly draws inspiration from the simplicity of parking lot grids, cityscapes and grain silos, immediately zeroed in on colors and lines. Shadows and weathering on the museum’s wooden siding inspired a subtle all-white quilt. Robert S. Duncanson’s landscape murals have been reduced to vertical blocks of blues, whites and browns. The tempest of J.M.W. Turner’s “Europa and the Bull” is calmed in a mini-quilt whose blue and orange strips still suggest the sea, sky and sand. Easily overlooked diamond details on a Barbizon gallery mantel now pop in quilted shades of red and orange. Jones, of Springboro, is a star in the world of modern quilting, a category that is generally defined by Minimalist designs, bold colors and improvisational piecing rather than precise patterns. She teaches workshops online and in person across the country, has appeared on PBS and been featured on marthastewart.com. She wrote a book (Quilt Local: Finding Inspiration in the Everyday) and founded the Cincinnati chapter of the Modern Quilt Guild. But the women of Elegant Geometry: British and American Mosaic Patchwork Quilts were no slouches themselves. The 19 quilts on display demonstrate amazing patience and ingenuity in hand-sewing thousands of hexagons together to make what were seen then as practical household goods and today as works of art. Though the 41-year-old Jones has a modern aesthetic, she appreciates the traditional, too. She started collecting antique quilts as a teen and loves that each one connects her to an anonymous woman from the past. “She couldn’t do a whole lot of other things, unfortunately, because of the time period she lived in, but she could make this,” Jones says. “And it’s still here. And that kind of gives me goosebumps.” Tamera Muente, associate curator at the Taft, arranged the two quilt exhibits in

recognition of the museum’s history as a home. A floor plan for the circa-1820 house designates the current Dutch gallery as a sewing room. A letter by museum namesake Charles Taft refers to a meeting of wife Anna’s sewing circle. It’s unknown if Anna Taft and fellow former residents Ann Baum and “Hexagon Quilt,” between 1870-1890, from Susan Longworth Elegant Geometry made quilts, but P H O T O : I N T E R N AT I O N A L Q U I LT S T U D Y C E N T E R & Elegant Geometry MUSEUM, UNIVERSIT Y OF NEBRASK A— LINCOLN represents the handiwork of upper-class women like them. A mosaic patchwork quilt required a lot of fabric, as well as paper for templates, and the price of those materials was out of reach for most in the early 19th century. A quilt of as many as 15,000 hexagons also required a lot of time, which women of that period and status had plenty of. For many, needlework was their sole creative outlet. The historic textiles come from the International Quilt Study Center & Museum in Lincoln, Neb., and the oldest was made in 1796. Through the 1700s, most quilts were pieced out of simple triangles and squares of fabric that had been basted onto paper patterns that were removed and reused. Heather Jones in front of But as geometry textbooks became widely one of her modern quilts available in the late 18th century, women were able to draft accurate hexagons that PHOTO: HAILEY BOLLINGER proved to be more efficient building blocks for flowers, verses, kaleidoscopic effects and other designs. Muente quotes a director of the Nebraska center: “Quilts can tell us a lot, but they never give us all of their secrets.” Many Then she married abstract painter Jeffrey makers and exact dates are lost to time. Cortland Jones and his sensibilities rubbed Englishwoman Frances Hawkins did stitch off. Now her “paintings” are small stitchedher name and the year 1818 onto her quilt and-stretched fabric works that play mind using small hexagons. What’s a mystery, tricks with viewers who think they are though, is why she chose to combine Minimalist acrylics or oils. applique and patchwork techniques. Her Jones’ love of quilts began with a pink symmetry is off in places where she added coverlet that her great-great aunt Ollie birds and flowers cut out of chintz. “What made for her when she was born. “But I I love about this piece — to me, it feels like was intimidated by the thought of making she was kind of winging it,” Muente says. a quilt myself because a lot of times, tradiNearly two centuries later, Jones was tionally, they are perfect,” Jones says. “All drawn to modern quilting because of the the pieces line up — or so I thought they freedom of not having to be perfect. In fact, had to all line up.” the path to her current artistic practice Seeing a 2004 exhibit of quilts made is kind of a crazy quilt. She began as a by the women of Gee’s Bend, Ala., was a painter, and a representational one at that. lightbulb moment, she says. The members

of that isolated African-American community are known for improvising with whatever scraps are available to make simple, free-form patterns. Now Jones’ quilts are creating lightbulb moments for others. Her modern interpretations of works by Duncanson and John Singer Sargent are startling yet refreshing to see in a museum of centuries-old art. It isn’t long before all the pieces fit together — just like in a quilt. Elegant Geometry continues through Jan. 21 and A Sense of Home continues through Feb. 18 at the Taft Museum of Art, 316 Pike St., Downtown. Tickets and more info: taftmuseum.org.


Dancing Princesses; Singing Orphans BY R I C K PEN D ER


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Musicals are a challenging art form resolves happily ever after — it is a fairy requiring extensive collaboration among tale, after all. creators and performers to come into There’s so much energy, wonderfully existence, let alone to be successful. So it’s harnessed by Meyers and the choreograno small feat that Ensemble Theatre Cinphers, that the show’s two hours (including cinnati has been staging world-premiere an intermission) speed by. In her director’s musical fairy tales during the holidays for note, Meyers writes, “Directing a world 20 years. This time around, playwright Joe premiere is an exquisite adventure.” I McDonough and composer David Kisor suspect holiday audiences will agree. It’s have adapted and updated a less-thanonstage through Dec. 30. More info and familiar Brothers Grimm fairy tale, The tickets at ensemblecincinnati.org. Dancing Princesses. It’s one of their best, Cincinnati Landmark Productions’ most entertaining creations. staging of the 1977 Tony Award-winning Staged by ETC Artistic Director D. Lynn musical Annie at the Covedale Center for Meyers, it’s the story of five fiercely independent princess sisters (the Brothers Grimm version had a dozen, but that would be a crowd on ETC’s smallish stage) who ruin their shoes nightly by sneaking off for dance parties in a dream kingdom. Their father, a stern single-dad named King Aldrin (Ken Early), is mystified and perturbed, as is his sister-in-law Zilda (Deb G. Girdler), their harsh aunt and governess, but the girls aren’t giving it up. Pharron (Michael Gerard Carr), a veteran The cast of Ensemble Theatre’s The Dancing Princesses soldier, is clued in to the situation by a mysterious, P H O T O : R YA N K U R T Z magical woman (Sara Mackie) — somewhere between a witch and a fairy godmother the Performing Arts has several earworm— who urges him to step in and solve the worthy tunes that are repeatedly reprised: mystery. Three more characters keep things Annie’s yearning for the parents who abanlively: Joziam (Michael G. Bath), the king’s doned her when she was a baby (“Maybe”); counselor and wannabe jester, and a pair her chipper, inspirational anthem of love-besotted cobblers (Darnell Pierre (“Tomorrow”); and a cheerful radio tune Benjamin and Andrew Maloney). repeated ironically by the orphans (“You’re Kisor’s score contains 33 brief, diverse Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile”). musical numbers, ranging from sprightly Jordan Darnell plays the title orphan, and to soulful. It’s his most clever and inventive she has the voice and necessary no-nonscore yet, hopscotching across umpteen sense demeanor. A high school freshman, dance rhythms. That keeps the cast almost she is a tad tall for the role but she performs constantly in motion, spiritedly organized winningly. Her patron Daddy Warbucks is by three veteran choreographers — Dee played by the extremely tall Justin Glaser. Anne Bryll, University of Cincinnati ColAnnie rises and falls on its ensemble of lege-Conservatory of Music’s Patti James orphans, and director Tim Perrino has and Cincinnati Ballet’s Victoria Morgan. It assembled seven spunky girls — Savannah makes for a visually entertaining producBoyd, Nora Darnell, Megan Hirka, Maya tion, enhanced by Brian c. Mehring’s Hunt, Esther Medlin, Sara Reynolds and three-tiered, Gothic-arched medieval Aine Steele — who rock the production scenic design and Reba Senske’s riotously whenever they’re onstage. imagined costumes. Each princess has a The rest of the time, this production of personal color scheme for gowns, sleepAnnie leans rather hard on being hammy. wear and even bedspreads. The show is based on a legendary comic The princesses — played by Maggie strip, so there’s some justification for flat Cramer, Maya Farhat, Rebecca Wei Hsieh, characters and overacting. But it’s an Samantha Russell and Brooke Steele — are aspect of Cincinnati Landmark Producan amusing quintet. They’re rambunctions that’s become predictable. Through tious, willful and yearning to learn about Dec. 23. More info and tickets at cincinnathe world, despite protective adults whose tilandmarkproductions.com. backstories explain their reticence. Thanks Contact Rick Pender: rpender@ to Pharron’s intercession, everybody’s citybeat.com desires are fulfi lled and, of course, all


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New Book Says Ohio Shaped President Grant BY JAS O N G A R G A N O

Ulysses S. Grant, the heralded Civil War general and the 18th president of the United States, was born in 1822 about 25 miles from Cincinnati in the tiny river town of Point Pleasant, Ohio. A year later, Grant’s family moved to Georgetown, Ohio, in Brown County, where he would spend the rest of his childhood before heading to the United States Military Academy in 1839. Ron Chernow’s new biography, simply titled Grant, argues that this Ohio connection had an obvious and undeniable impact on Grant’s worldview and his decisions concerning slavery, the Civil War, Reconstruction and beyond. As the commanding general of the United States Army for President Abraham Lincoln, he defeated the Confederates. As the Republican president from 1869-1877, he made sure the rights of newly freed Southern slaves were protected. “Grant grew up in this borderland between slave states and free states,” Chernow says by phone from his home in Brooklyn, N.Y. “He was born maybe 30 or 40 yards from the Ohio River, and the Ohio River at that time had great political significance. On one shore was the slave state of Kentucky and on the other shore was the free state of Ohio. On winter nights when the river would freeze over, you would actually have fugitive slaves escape across the river to freedom in Ohio.” Like Chernow’s previous efforts — including his biographies on George Washington, which won a Pulitzer Prize, and Alexander Hamilton, which inspired Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tony-winning musical, Hamilton — Grant is an impressively researched and elegantly written tome about one of our county’s most important figures. In fact, Chernow says the United States as we know it might never have endured if it weren’t for Grant’s unique background. “It’s not too far of a stretch to say that the Grant who was able to perceive the world from both the viewpoint of the slave-owning South and the free North, and his ability to see and understand both sides of the conflict, really goes back to his childhood, because he’s growing up in this border area,” he says. Chernow spent four years researching his subject’s life, pulling from the unusually robust volumes of Grant’s papers, as well as from Grant’s own incisive memoir, one of the most acclaimed books of its kind. “As I went back and looked closely at the memoirs, I realized that my job as a biographer was to talk about those things Grant didn’t want to talk about in his memoir,” Chernow says. “So I realized that was not as big an obstacle as it might have seemed at first, because what Grant wrote about, he wrote about brilliantly, but he was very selective. And because the man was dying of cancer as he was writing the book, quite naturally he wanted to avoid a lot of unpleasant topics from his earlier life.”

Among the topics Chernow sheds light on are Grant’s notorious binge drinking, his oft-troubled presidency and his various failed businesses both before and after his military and political careers. Yet for all of Grant’s flaws, Chernow continues to go back to the man’s vital impact on a nation that nearly tore itself apart during the Civil War — a topic, as we’ve seen with recent events, we’re still arguing about today.

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Ron Chernow PHOTO: BEOWULF SHEEHAN

“One of the things I liked about Grant that was quite unlike the other people whom I have written about — all of them were hungering for fame and glory, which Grant was not — was that he just did his patriotic duty, and of course in doing that the fame and glory came his way,” Chernow says. “He was very much respected by his soldiers because he was not a self-aggrandizing sort of general. He was not trying to glorify himself at all, and that very plain, unadorned style played very well with his soldiers. He was only concerned with winning the war.” “At the same time, because of his history, the business failure prior to the war, I think he also understands the psychology of defeated people, which is very important in dealing with the South after the war,” Chernow continues. “I think that Grant, having served in the Civil War as a general, having run so close to Abraham Lincoln, really inherits Lincoln’s legacy as his own — the preservation of the Union and protection of the 4 million former slaves who then become American citizens.” That, in Chernow’s estimation, makes him a worthy subject for a biography.


People’s Liberty Announces Grant Winners BY K AT I E G R I FFI T H

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People’s Liberty has announced the first educate on the Federal Student Aid process round of winners for its 2018 Project Grant and student loan debt, Cocks-Charles wants program. Eight individuals were awarded to prepare students for the unexpected $10,000 each to sponsor innovative ideas financial burdens of college. She will target that combat civic issues or promote coma local school that is still to be decided. munity development. Because the groundwork for these projSince its inception in 2015, the Project ects is yet to be laid, a lot of specific details Grant program has generated 56 grantees, for the grantees are still in the works. One with eight winners per bi-yearly cycle. winner however, knows exactly where his Winners in the first cycle of 2018 are Clayplans will pan out: the sewer. ton Brizendine, Simone Cocks-Charles, Kalagayan wants to combine the CincinApril Culbreath, Tina Dyehouse, Eric nati sewer system setting of his comic book Gruenstein, Jay Kalagayan, Jeffrey Miller with the experience of actually being in a and Geralyn Sparough. sewer service tunnel. MeSseD (the title of People’s Liberty is a selfdescribed philanthropic lab that experiments with allotting grants directly to people, as opposed to organizations or nonprofits. The grants also provide individuals with funding. Each grantee is eager to begin. Culbreath, owner of A.D. Culbreath Designs, says her “Operation Comfy Chair” idea will help distressed and homeless veterans by having them restore old furniture and donate the finished pieces. “The goal is to put these tools into veterans’ hands,” she says. “Put them back Eric Avner (back left) with the eight grant winners into the mindset of service P H O T O : a n n a m affe y because they want to serve. They have the opportunity to strip something down, which is symbolic the book and project) will raise awareness of their lives, and rebuild it, recover it and and appreciation for Metropolitan Sewer then put it back to good use.” District workers with an interactive display Aurore Fournier, People’s Liberty proof the story in an actual service tunnel. gram director, said this round considered “We are a very flush-and-forget-it 70-plus applicants. The four women and society,” Kalagayan says. “We only seem four men selected range in age from 27 to 75 to care about this essential service when and have a variety of positive ambitions. it goes wrong.” Brizendine is hoping to recruit an entire Another grantee is combating waste, but neighborhood of doers to restore at least in a totally different way. Miller is contwo dilapidated basketball courts in an area cerned with food waste and wants people to still to be determined. He plans to employ stop throwing out or avoiding the purchase local artists and volunteers to not only clean of “ugly food.” He will host an event with up, but also turn the courts into works of art. local chefs who will show attendees the “Center court — imagine that being the value of preparing meals with such food. center of your neighborhood,” Brizendine Finally, a project known as BioChar, says. “And residents can paint their most created by Gruenstein, is geared toward important symbols or words inside.” educating families about using charcoal Sparough will utilize an upcoming as a soil to grow food. He hopes to mitigate public event to host an all-inclusive weavthe dangers of climate change and promote ing operation. Her efforts, called Shelter nutritious eating habits. The oldest of the from the Storm, will yield an approximately grantees, he is a professor of molecular 10-by-30-foot community-woven piece to be genetics and neuroscience at University of used as a standalone shelter. And Dyehouse Cincinnati’s College of Medicine. will explore the power of social media and Fournier and the grantees are looking appoint an ombudsman to investigate and forward to launching these projects in Januresolve problems individuals have with ary, and hope to be celebrating their sucgovernment or public agencies. cesses come June. The next cycle of winners Cocks-Charles will use her local business will be announced in spring 2018. BLUSH The Event Loft as a meeting space For more information on the for beneficiaries of her project, Campus People’s Liberty Project Grant Closet. Whether it be assembling “care winners, visit peoplesliberty.org. packages” or organizing meetings to


C i t y B e at. c o m  |   D E C . 0 6 – 1 2 , 2 0 1 7



Notice is hereby given that Extra Space Storage will sell at public auction, to satisfy the lien of the owner, personal property described below belonging to those individuals listed below at location indicated: 525 W 35th St Covington, KY 41015 (859) 261-1165 on December 19, 2017 on or after 12:00 pm. Caitlin Carver, 03118, furniture; Jennifer Meyer, 04124, Household Goods, furniture; Brian Mason, 03427, Household Goods, Furniture, Appliances; Mark Smith, 06112, 3 coolers, misc racks; Lucy Turner, 02226, Household goods, furniture; Marissa Heeg, 03243, Household furniture; Kortney Royse, 02203, Beds and boxes; Sula Cook, 04127, 2 bedroom apt washer dryer; Anita Mullikin, 05139, 3 bedroom, living room and kitchen set, boxes, w/d; Jessica Simpson, 04615, 2 Bunkbeds, 1Queen bed, 1 Twin, washer/dryer, Boxes; Lisa Vickers, 04610, entertainment center, washer, dryer, household; Freddie Dixon, 04326, household goods and furniture; Tabitha Gentry, 04219, Household furniture and other misc items; Nina Wilson, 06102, baby stuff, clothes, fishing poles, totes, games; Christopher Early, 03310, Houshold Goods;

Shonda Perkins, 03354, Misc items; Brian Barnes, 02334, Bunk bed and other misc items; Jasmine Powell, 02321, beds, clothes, washer dryer; Joyce Ross, 02306, Household items; Jonathan Thompson, 06119, Household Goods; Joyce Ross, 04211, Household items; Johniesha London, 02430, Furniture 5970 Centennial Circle, Florence, KY 41042, 859-4085219, December 19th, 2017, 10:30 am. Dorothy J Collins, 645, Household items; Glenn Wallace, 409, Household; Kathy Wolfe, 108, Household items; Timothy Bell, 566, Household items, furniture; Stephanie Donlin, 905, Household items; Audra Morgan, 944, Household items 2900 Crescent Springs Rd, Erlanger, KY 41018 on Tuesday, December 19th at 11:00 AM. Jessica Corbin, Unit 144, Household furniture; James Wymer, Unit 152, Household goods; Kathy S Smothers, Unit 269, Household, Patrick Moore, Unit 270, Mattresses, washer, dryer, misc. household; Dara Lawson, Unit 289, Washer, dryer, bicycles; Elbert Eubank Jr, Unit 338, Household items, furniture; Suzanne O Linstruth, Unit 427, Household goods; Lori Hogan, Unit 512, Misc. restored furniture; Edith Witt, Unit 544,

Household goods; Steven Caddell, Unit 577, Household Goods; Alicia Hardin, Unit 644, Household goods; Heather Young, Unit 828, Furniture, household goods Extra Space Storage, 8080 Steilen Dr. Florence, KY 41042 on December 19, 2017 at or after 10 am. Lesia M Lowe, Unit 2703, Household Goods; Michael L Grob, Unit 1601, Household Goods; Michael Kersting, Unit 150, Household Goods; Carole Gemmer, Unit 1, Household Goods; Joseph Hadden, Unit 2535, Household Goods; Sarah Austin, Unit 1120, Household Goods; Tamarie Welsh, Unit 2633, Household Goods; Robert Jones, Unit 1519, Household Goods; Glenn Tefft, Unit 1045, Household Goods; Deborah Smith, Unit 401, Household Goods; Gary Howard, Unit 1506, Household Goods; Jacob Street, Unit 1211, Household Goods; Brandi Bennett, Unit 2809, Household Goods; Ronald Holt, Unit 1033, Household Goods Purchases must be made with cash only and paid at the above referenced facility in order to complete the transaction. Extra Space Storage may refuse any bid and may rescind any purchase up until the winning bidder takes possession of the personal property.

The Duo Behind ‘The Disaster Artist’ BY T T S T ER N - EN ZI

How many films have taken us behind forgiven for assuming they’re about to see the scenes of a movie set, revealing the a spoof of The Room’s pretensions. controlled chaos that gives life to the “Every other chapter of the book The mercurial creative genius? Thanks to Tim Disaster Artist: My Life Inside The Room, the Burton, we watched the stunning lunacy, Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made is about the the ambition and thwarted dreaming of history of the making of (the film),” Weber the films made by the titular Ed Wood. says. “But the alternating chapters detail And there is Kevin Smith’s Zack and Miri the history of the friendship. We, both literMake a Porno, which juggles the desperally and figuratively, took the book apart ate frenzy of attempting to make porn for and removed the production chapters, profit while two of the performers develop because the relationship was much more a romantic attraction for each other. interesting to us. They were two guys who But what screenwriters Scott Neustadter believed in each other when no one else and Michael H. Weber have done with The did. That was pretty much our story, and Disaster Artist, in conjunction with director and star James Franco and producing partners Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, is bring audiences into the real-life story that is the film’s basis. It’s about the relationship between Greg Sestero (Dave Franco), a struggling actor, and Tommy Wiseau (James Franco), a mysterious and eccentric fellow artiste, as they forge a passionate friendship that leads them to Hollywood to pursue their dreams of making a movie together. That movie, 2003’s The Room, Dave Franco (left) and brother James in The Disaster Artist has developed a so-badP H O T O : J ustina M intz / courtesy of a 2 4 it’s-good cult reputation over the years. The Disaster Artist — with a title taken that was where the emotional stakes were.” from Sestero’s memoir (with co-writer The screenwriters’ chosen focus synchs Tom Bissell) The Disaster Artist: My Life up with the onscreen interplay between Inside The Room, the Greatest Bad Movie the brothers Franco. But to my eye, James’ Ever Made — takes The Room’s creators Tommy comes across as a surreal and seriously. Neustadter and Weber have eerily moving reflection of the Andy their own unique creative partnership, Kaufman brought to life in Man on the having penned a series of screenplays Moon by Jim Carrey. that deftly merge comedy and romantic “By week two of the production, we had entanglements, starting with (500) Days spent more time with the ‘Tommy’ James of Summer back in 2009. As Neustadter than with the ‘James’ James, so we got shared during a recent phone interview used to him staying in character,” Weber with him and Weber, the duo gravitates says. “Now, he wasn’t acting erratically toward relationship stories “where the or throwing fits — such as the antics of people themselves are the issue.” Wiseau that are documented in the book. “It isn’t one of those ‘she likes cats, But because he had to be in the prosthethe likes dogs’ kind of things where there ics and it took a while for him to get that are these (artificial) Hollywood bound­ look on his face, it was just easier for him aries separating the characters,” Neusto keep the voice and the mannerisms.” tadter says. The one sentiment that popped up again In The Disaster Artist, when we catch and again during my conversation with our first glimpse of Greg in his acting class, the writers was how much fun the entire we see nothing more than a frustrated filmmaking process is for them. They striver experiencing typical discomfort have no interest or desire to make the with pretending. Tommy, however, is leap to directing. There is a sense of shock completely unencumbered by inhibitions in them “every time cameras are rolling,” or concerns about talent. It is obvious Weber says, due to the seemingly imposthat these two are destined to join forces sible nature of marshaling the resources because, quite honestly, no one else and talent behind such endeavors. Being would join with them. Because The Room able to avert disasters along the way in forces audiences to question whether they the service of capturing the nuances of are laughing with or at its creators, viewinterpersonal relationships is their artistic ers of The Disaster Artist could easily be calling. (Opens Friday) Grade: A-


Searching for Humanity in ‘The Walking Dead’ BY JAC K ER N

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It’s a good time to recap The Walking the Kingdom suffers its biggest loss yet, Dead’s hits and misses ahead of the Season Ezekiel drops the regal act, stripping down 8 midseason finale (9 p.m. Sunday, AMC). to reveal the real guy underneath it all. It’s This season of the zombie drama had a one of the finest moments of the season. lot to prove. The previous Season 7 packed Over the course of the entire series, Lena ton of material into its 16 episodes — the nie James’ Morgan stands out as one of the introduction of King Ezekiel’s Kingdom, best and most complex characters. So it junkyard Jadis’ Scavengers and the womenwas a shock when James recently revealed led Oceanside; the long-awaited emergence on after-show Talking Dead that he would of Negan, the Saviors and the Sanctuary; be leaving the series. and the pivotal deaths of Glenn, Abraham Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkand Sasha — yet the plot barely advanced. man had teased fans in October with the With so many characters scattered across announcement that there would be a locations, several episodes would pass character crossover between the show and while the overall story stayed stuck in one place. So it was promising when Season 8 opened with a bang as the three communities of good guys finally united on screen to attack the Sanctuary. But, as we’ve come to expect, a stellar episode of Dead is often followed by a few snoozers; the ups and downs of this current season have been real. What makes or breaks an episode isn’t the battle scenes or the creative ways in which undead walkers are incorporated — both of which Dead does well. Khary Payton’s King Ezekiel is an inspiring character. For me, it all comes down P H O T O : g ene pa g e / a m c to the characters: how well they’re written and developed, their dialogue, that cast’s its spinoff series, Fear the Walking Dead, performance. Again, Dead is a mixed bag meaning someone from one series would in that respect. There are way too many to appear in the other. It was later confirmed call out, but a few characters represent the that a character from the original would show’s strengths and weaknesses. “cross over” into prequel Fear. It’s becoming clear that Negan is not the Since Fear is set about three to four years villain the show banked on. The notorious earlier than Walking Dead, the move could figure from the comics just isn’t translating appear as a flashback, providing insight to screen as fans hoped. Negan is intriguinto some character’s past. For that reason, ing, for sure (read: actor Jeffrey Dean it had been previously speculated that Morgan is attractive), but telling one vague Abraham (Michael Cudlitz), who was killed story about his background is far from the off in Season 7’s bloody premiere, would amount of humanizing that his character cross shows. Not so, James confirmed. needs and deserves. The most successful Instead, it will be Morgan — a character antagonists in any narrative aren’t 100-perwe’ve known the longest, aside from Rick, cent flat-out evil. A season and a half into and played by one of the most talented his storyline, I’m still left to wonder how performers in the bunch. And sadly, that Negan rose to power. means Morgan will exit the original entirely. On the flipside is King Ezekiel (Khary It’s a clear ratings-grab: Fear garners maybe Payton), who is everything Negan is not: a third of Walking Dead’s viewership. Surely kind, inspiring and fantastically developed. they’re banking on more fans beginning It’s evident why the Kingdom residents to tune in to see Morgan’s whereabouts on follow his lead — he’s adopted this role of Fear. Whether that will pan out is questiona Shakespearean-speaking ruler. While he able. Regardless, Walking Dead will suffer a doesn’t always make the right call, he does major loss with James’ departure. always have the best of intentions. He’s Looking ahead to the second half of the helped cultivate one of the most prosperseason, likely picking back up in February ous communities in all the zombie-laden 2018, I’m hoping for more plot-advancing land. He has a goddamn tiger. It’s easy for action, inventive implementation of walkers him to be confident and encouraging playand thoughtful character development to ing this (rather silly) character because the keep this roller coaster on the right track. Kingdom has faced, comparatively, very Contact Jac Kern: @jackern few setbacks. The shtick works. But when





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A Foodie Philosophy


Sartre OTR plays with “French(ish)” cuisine in a brasserie-inspired environment R E V I E W BY PA M A M I TC H EL L


drinks list testifies to their experience at many fine area restaurants and bars along with a dedication to finding the best spirits and wines to accompany the menu and the unique setting of Sartre. After a few sips, we were primed to try the cooking of chef Justin Uchtman, a Cincinnati native who left that Michelinstarred San Francisco gig — the restaurant is called SPQR — to take the helm here. While the name Sartre, from the French playwright and philosopher, might indicate that the menu skews completely Gallic, not all the dishes go that way. In fact, the menu had us scratching our heads a bit, since it’s not organized like most fine-dining menus we’ve run across. And even within the subheadings of Vegetables, Grains, Fish, Meat and French(ish), many dishes may seem unfamiliar. Our server supplemented the menu descriptions and indicated which ones other diners had especially liked. That was Sartre OTR helpful, and you might want to waylay your server for 1910 Elm St., Oversimilar guidance. the-Rhine, 513-579The four of us each started 1910, sartreotr.com. with something from the Hours: 5-9 p.m. SunVegetables section ($7-$14). day and WednesdayMy kabocha squash with Thursday; 5-10 p.m. pumpkin-seed pesto seemed Friday-Saturday. more like a side than an appetizer, and was a little too filling as a starter. Patty had grilled lettuce with buttermilk dressing and prosciutto crisps and George went Sartre’s menu skews Gallic with something that went well with our but also features dishes like drinks: beet jam with whipped goat cheese tempura-style fish. and toasted hazelnuts. P H O T O : hailey bolli n ger The star of this course, however, was Bob’s choice — roasted Brussels sprouts with thick-cut bacon and croutons. I hope this becomes a permanent menu item. We didn’t quite know what to do for a “main” course, given options that ranged from country pâté, moules frites and steak frites in the French(ish) section to yellowfin which came with a large cluster of maitake tartar, “poisson frit” (quotation marks from mushroom resting on warm grains that the menu) and a $7 lamb poutine. Patty had had been seasoned with lardo and given read online that the poisson (fish) was precrunchiness with chopped pistachios. The pared tempura style and had been a hit with flavor and texture contrasts melded beausome diners, so she tried it — a deal at $10. tifully and the smallish portion was just George usually orders fish and, true to right. The bulgar wheat dish was seasoned form, took the server’s suggestion for the with pork belly and Green Goddess dressroasted sea bass, the priciest menu item ing and got its crunch from walnuts. I’m all at $27. Bob and I each got something from about crunch as a flavor component, which the Grain section: farro for me and bulgar these grain dishes delivered. wheat for him ($13 each). Both the fish entrées struck me as I thought the grain dishes were the under-seasoned, with not enough salt most successful. Along with the Brussels on the fried fish and vegetables (and no sprouts, my overall favorite was the farro, shaker on the table) and the sea bass and

its accompaniments tasted bland. Dessert turned out fabulous. George and I split the buttermilk panna cotta, while Bob and Patty shared soft serve custard with Luxardo cherries and salted caramel ($7 each). We didn’t even get to try our server’s favorite, apple cake with butterscotch pudding, apple cider caramel and vanilla ice cream. Whatever you do if you eat at Sartre, save room for dessert.

Find more restaurant NEWS AND reviews at CityBeat.com/ food-drink

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he Cincinnati foodie world buzzed this summer in anticipation of the opening of what promised to be an exceptional new venture in OTR. Word first came in August, in the form of a cryptic, free-verse poem delivered by managing partner Jim Cornwell to a handful of media types. Headlined by a chef most recently at a Michelin-starred San Francisco restaurant and top staff from our city’s best dining spots, Cornwell soon provided a few more details. The new place would be a brasserie style, French-accented eatery at street level in the Rhinegeist building on Elm Street. At the end of September, Sartre OTR made its debut. A few weeks later, we managed to score a table for four on a Saturday night — reserved well in advance — to see what all the commotion was about. Before we took a single sip or bite, and in fact before seeing a menu, I could tell that Sartre could become one of our go-to OTR destinations. The vaulted ceilings, remarkable woodwork and indirect lighting create a feeling both majestic and intimate. To the left of the hosting station you’ll find a large bar with a variety of seating areas; to the right, the main dining room. Overall, you get the impression that you’re entering the grandest place in that part of town — or maybe in all of metro Cincinnati. A host showed us to our table, where our friends awaited. We noticed the ample space between tables, which made it seem almost as if we had our own private dining area. Even when the room filled up, it never got too loud for civilized conversation. We turned our thoughts to before-dinner drinks, and here, too, things looked promising. A dozen inventive house cocktails ($11-$12) graced the left column of the dinner menu; on the right side, a similar number of mostly French wine by the glass ($7-$16 for a glass of Champagne) vied for our attention. Our friends went with cocktails — a Negroni for Bob and a Manhattanlike drink called Sore Wounded for Patty. I tasted both and they were very well made. As a rule, cocktails tempt me, but a mostly French wine list is catnip for this Francophile, especially when even the glass pours go far beyond typical choices. My husband and I therefore started with an Alsatian Riesling and a Loire Valley chenin blanc; later in the meal I had an absolutely lovely gamay from the Jura region, and he enjoyed a cabernet franc from the Loire. On a subsequent visit for drinks at the bar we had the chance to talk with both the bar/cocktail director Joshua Miller and general manager/wine specialist Randy Diedling. A couple of passes through the





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3410 Telford St., Clifton, 513-2813663, postmark. restaurant My reliable dining companion (my husband George) and I lined up four neighbors for a weeknight dinner at Postmark. We caught up soon enough with glasses of wine from the daily happy hour list. Until 7 p.m., Postmark offers three different wines, usually at $6, each paired with a small bite of food. While the restaurant has played with a couple different ways of presenting the menu in its short life thus far, when we dined the categories were “Introduction” — eight appetizers ($8-$14) — and “Body,” or nine main courses ($18-$29). More recently, they’ve started handing you a large-format postcard with a slightly different organization of about the same number of dishes. Standouts among the appetizers included French onion soup, steak tartar and a special off-menu foie gras. My onion soup ($10) came classically prepared with a rich, oniony broth enhanced by bone marrow and topped with toasted garlic baguette and plenty of melted Gruyère cheese. Our entrées ranged from a stuffed pasta called agnolotti ($21) to a duck breast special ($31) and a couple of fish dishes ($28-$29). The pasta stuffi ng included white corn, hen of the woods mushrooms and a hint of black truffle oil. I thought the halibut was interesting — the Postmark version came with radishes, beans and creamy polenta. Since our visit, duck breast has become a regular menu item, served with pumpkin purée and pepitas. Chef/owner Brad Bernstein told me in a later interview that with Postmark he’s shooting for a more produce-centered “farmhouse refi ned.” The evolving menu will reflect “Ohio river culture and Creole and Southern influences,” he added, “with classic French training” mixed in. (Pama Mitchell)

Royal OTR

(859) 5 81-3 0 65 p o m pi li o s .co m 6 0 0 wa s h i n g to n av e . n e w p o r t, k y

1200 Main St., Overthe-Rhine, 513381-3092, facebook. com/royalotr You don’t have to be a member of any monarchy to feast like a king or queen at The Royal OTR. The “sandwiches + greens” spot in Over-the-Rhine offers a refreshing new option for lunchgoers and sandwich-seekers alike amid the myriad pizza slices that pepper Main Street. Sandwiches are indeed the bulk of the menu, with inventive takes on classics like

chicken adobo grilled cheese and beef dip. But if you came for the sandwich, you’ll probably stay for the farro grain bowl. The concept is self-explanatory enough: Start with a bowl of farro, then layer on tons of customizable topping options like pickled carrots, sunflower seeds and roasted sweet potato. Add chicken or chopped pork for $3, top with a dressing, et voilà. The verde pork sandwich is not something I’d normally order, but executive chef Mike Kasak’s in-house 24-hour salt-cured pork and melange of pickled onions and carrots made it a worthwhile step outside of my comfort zone. (Kasak and his crew go through 30 quarts of pickles a week.) The pork used for this sandwich and the Peruvian ham melt can also be found in the excellent braised cabbage and pork soup — one of the best soups I’ve ever tasted. Even without a hangover, the Deep South chili dog is a big winner. Starring Avril-Bleh’s andouille sausage and Kasak’s housemade pork étouffée on a solid bun topped with garlic jack cheese and onions, this chili dog delivers the perfect amount of zing and heat. (Leyla Shokoohe)

Hi-Mark 3229 Riverside Drive, East End, 513-492-7119, thehimark.com A new collaboration between Eli’s and the folks behind another popular restaurant team — the Lang Thang Group — is the latest welcome addition to Columbia Tusculum: the newly christened Hi-Mark, a nautical sports bar with a menu that packs a punch. Half the menu comes from the Eli’s BBQ side, whose pulled pork sandwich and sothick-it-breaks-your-plastic-spoon macaroni and cheese proved their worth long ago. Hi-Mark’s other culinary inspiration comes from the Lang Thang side, the people that brought us the beloved Over-the-Rhine eateries Pho Lang Thang and Quan Hapa. Their flavors dance across Hi-Mark’s menu with the unreal Smoked Pork Bánh Mì and Lang Thang Chili. The South meets Vietnam in Hi-Mark’s Southern-Fried Chicken Thigh Sandwich, topped with tangy coleslaw and tossed in Buffalo sauce.  Wings are available in orders of six or 12 with sauces ranging from classic Buffalo style to Eli’s BBQ sauce, garlic pepper lime or a dry rub. A basket of crinkle fries can be “loaded” with variations of bacon, cheddar, green onion, tomatoes, scallions and either beer cheese or Lang Thang Chili.  Both of the bar’s signature sandwiches are served on hefty baguette-style breads with a heftier side of napkins. You’ll need all of them to clean yourself up with after wolfi ng down the food. (Madge Maril)


Bourbon & Bacon — Join CityBeat at New Riff Distillery for the finest swine, beer and bourbon. Enjoy samples from local restaurants paired with different brands of bourbon. If bourbon ain’t your thing, there’s plenty of other alcohol to imbibe. 5:30-8:30 p.m. $55. New Riff Distillery, 24 Distillery Way, Newport, Ky., citybeat.com.


Over-the-Rhine’s Sweet History — The Over-theRhine Museum presents a Three Acts Program on OTR’s sweet history. The speakers will be Greg Clark and Chip Nielsen of Doscher Brothers, the city’s oldest operating candy company; Paul Picton of Maverick Chocolate Company; and Sherri Prentiss of Velveteen Chocolates. 6 p.m. $5 suggested donation. Empower, 15 E. 14th St., Over-theRhine, otrmuseum.org. Gnocchi Workshop — Learn to make basic gnocchi dough and transform it into a sauté of gnocchi with thyme-butter sauce, herbed gnocchi with panko-crusted chicken and even dessert gnocchi with cinnamon butter. 6-8 p.m. $75. The Learning Kitchen, 7659 Cox Lane, West Chester, thelearningkitchen.com.



Date Night: Indian Curries — Grab your sweetie and prepare chicken curry, vegetable curry and prawn curry with coconut milk. 5-7 p.m. $160. The Learning Kitchen, 7659 Cox Lane, West Chester, thelearningkitchen.com. Cincinnati SantaCon — Don’t drink and fly your sleigh — the 10th-annual SantaCon bar crawl is on its way. Dress in your best Santa costume or other holiday-themed wear and trek to various bars and pubs to spread Christmas cheer. Noon-midnight. Free to participate; donations to The Cure Starts Now encouraged. Leaves from JACK Casino, 1000 Broadway St., Pendleton, cincinnatisantacon.com. Breakfast with Santa — Head to the Millennium Hotel for a breakfast buffet, face painting, ornament decorating and a visit from Santa. Bring your own camera. RSVP recommended. 9-11 a.m. $14.95; $6.95 ages 4-12; free 4 and under. Millennium Hotel, 150 W. Fifth St., Downtown, 513-352-2120.



Northside Yacht Club Ramen Monday — The bar hosts chef Hideki Harada

Holiday Prosciutto — Prosciutto is the result of seasoning, salting and time. Learn to use the meat in a variety of dishes like a crostini with artichokes and spinach, pasta with shitake and balsamic and chicken stuffed with prosciutto. 6-8 p.m. $75. The Learning Kitchen, 7659 Cox Lane, West Chester, thelearningkitchen.com.


Slow Food Holiday Happy Hour — The Cincinnati chapter of Slow Food features local sweet and savory bites during this meet and greet happy hour. 6-8 p.m. $20; cash bar. Orchids at Palm Court, 35 W. Fifth St., Downtown, slowfoodcincinnati.org.

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Ramen Tuesday at Please — Please hosts a ramen night every Tuesday with unique twists on the traditional dish. 5:30-10 p.m. Prices vary. Please, 1405 Clay St., Over-the-Rhine, pleasecincinnati.com. Sip & Shop at We Olive & Wine Bar — Get happyhour-pricing on wine selections (plus complimentary snacks) while shopping for the foodies on your list. Gift baskets will be available for discounted prices to fill with gourmet foods, including olive oils, vinegars, tapenades, pasta and more. 3-9 p.m. Free admission. 33 E. Sixth St., Downtown, weolive.com/cincinnati. Hands-On Mushroom Madness — Learn how to select, clean and use mushrooms to make a magnificent meal. Dishes include chicken with morels, warm mushroom salad with arugula and wild rice and barley with mushrooms, cranberries and pecans. 6-8:30 p.m. $75. Jungle Jim’s, 5440 Dixie Highway, Fairfi eld, junglejims.com.


Brunch with Santa — Enjoy an all-you-can-eat buffet before snagging a free photo with Santa Claus. Seatings at 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. $18.35 adults; $8.75 child; advance tickets required. Mill Race Banquet Center at Winton Woods, 1515 W. Sharon Road, Forest Park, greatparks.org.

every Monday in December for a ramen pop-up. Veggie options available. Harada and his wife are opening Japanese restaurant Kiki in College Hill in late spring. 4 p.m. Prices vary. Northside Yacht Club, 4227 Spring Grove Ave., Northside, facebook. com/northsideyachtclub.


Choo Choo, Chocolate and Cheer — Holiday toy trains chug through the museum’s cities and holiday landscapes. Cedric Michael Cox will be

on hand to lead an interactive art experience and Santa will be making a trip to see everyone at the hot chocolate bar, featuring from-scratch hot chocolate with marshmallows, whipped cream, sprinkles and more. 5:308:30 p.m. $5-$9. BehringerCrawford Museum, 1600 Montague Road, Covington, Ky., eventbrite.com/e/choochoo-chocolate-cheer-tickets-40105353191.

DEC. 0 5 –12, 2 0 17

Sweet Treats from the Greeks — Holy Trinity-St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church (of Panegyri fame) hosts a weekend-long pastry sale. Purchase your favorite Greek pastries and hors d’oeuvres in time for holiday entertaining. Featured goodies include baklava, pasta flora, kataife, kourambiethes, tiropita, spanakopita and more. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday; noon-3 p.m. Sunday. Prices vary. 7000 Winton Road, Finneytown, holytrinity. oh.goarch.org.

Most classes and events require registration and classes frequently sell out.



Meet the Folkers In a relatively short span, Cincinnati’s Motherfolk has built a loyal following BY B R I A N B A K ER

C i t y B e at. c o m  |   D E C . 0 6 – 1 2 , 2 0 1 7



ne of the highlights of the Cincinnati’s Bunbury Music Festival in 2015 was the scorching set from Indie Folk sextet Motherfolk. But one of the highlights of the set itself was when vocalist/guitarist Nathan Dickerson called out the assembled multitude and playfully chastised them for not assembling at the band’s recent gigs. “Where have you all been?” chided Dickerson as he acknowledged the 40 or 50 Motherfolk regulars who were dancing wildly in front of the stage. “We played the year before at Bunbury and I think there were like 40 people there,” guitarist/vocalist Bobby Paver says. “Everything was running smoothly and there were a lot of people there (in 2015), especially for us. That show in particular really kind of kicked off our fan base in Cincinnati. It ended up being really good for us.” Overall, things have been good for Motherfolk since its 2013 inception. The band has maintained a consistent release schedule, including a self-titled 2014 debut, the Trying to Kill the Moon EP and 2016’s Fold album, which was reissued in October in a deluxe format that includes the new songs “You” and “All That’s Left.” Fold Deluxe also teed up the release of evocative accompanying videos for the songs “Fold I,” “Fold II” and “Fold III,” which were recorded live in the beautiful St. Xavier Church sanctuary (“I” and “II” have been released, “III” is coming shortly). Motherfolk has also established itself as a viable touring entity in its brief existence, with an amazing amount of regional and far-flung roadwork. The seeds for the group were planted when Dickerson and Paver attended the same high school. Their personal friendship blossomed when they were both enrolled at Kentucky Christian University — about 150 miles southeast of Cincinnati — which led to an inevitable musical collaboration. “We were proximity friends,” Paver says. “That turned into jamming together sometimes in the dorm rooms and eventually showing each other songs we had written, and then writing songs together,” Dickerson adds. The duo’s expanding musical bond resulted in adding a member, playing occasional performances as a trio and ultimately testing the waters in Cincinnati. Dickerson tried to get bookings at various local venues but was routinely denied

Motherfolk P H O T O : G I r l ie A c tion

because their “out-of-town” status meant they didn’t have area fans to draw into clubs. For Motherfolk’s first Cincinnati show at the 86 Club in Corryville, Dickerson offered a slight deception. “I was like, ‘I could say we’re from there,’ you know, like a liar,” Dickerson says. “Honestly, that moment in time might be why we’re all in Cincinnati now. We could have wound up somewhere cooler. I could have said we were from New York.” It was that first 86 Club performance that led the musicians to the conclusion that they should keep the name they had hastily invented for themselves. The reception at that first show convinced them to retain their provisional moniker. “The name was kind of a joke for a long time. At first, we did these little three-piece Folk things, so we were like, ‘We’re called Motherfolk, because that’s funny,’ ” Paver says. “I don’t even remember the conversation where (it was brought up), but it just kind of stuck. At that first show, there was definitely a change in the room when we started playing. It was the energy we brought to it, and you could tell that we really loved what we’d been working on. Although Dickerson and Paver didn’t intend to form an actual band, Motherfolk coalesced regardless of their plans. That might never have happened without the input of producer Stephen Keech, former

vocalist of Hardcore band Haste the Day and the producer of Motherfolk’s self-titled 2014 debut. After Haste the Day’s dissolution, Keech moved to Nashville, set up a home studio and canvassed for clients on Facebook. Dickerson, a Haste the Day fan, saw a post and in a musician’s WTF moment, emailed Keech and asked if he’d be interested in producing him and Paver. After hearing their songs, he readily agreed. “The first couple of times we went to Nashville, I don’t think we had the intention of forming a band,” Paver says. “It seemed like a lot of work, and I didn’t know that we had the potential, but listening back to the songs, I started to believe in it. And Stephen said, ‘You know, if you found some solid band members, you guys could do this.’ ” Over the past couple of years, Motherfolk has had some personnel shifts, but the current lineup of Dickerson, Paver, keyboardist Karlie Dickerson (Nathan’s wife), bassist Clayton Allender, guitarist Joel Call and drummer Ethan Wescott has been stable since the recording of Fold. The new deluxe edition of Motherfolk’s sophomore album satisfies a variety of needs for the band. “We’re facing a new writing project where we’re trying to think of what the next step is — what do we say that hasn’t been said, how do we keep relevant to our fans,” Paver says. “One of the things with the deluxe version is that we wanted people to know we still

care. And it’s one last push for Fold — we’re kind of saying goodbye to what we wrote for Fold and trying to embrace the next step, but also give people a reason to continue to listen to us. That’s kind of what we did with the EP. We just wanted to let our fans know it was still important to us and we were still writing. From the live perspective, it’s just more fun to play newer songs.” Fold introduced the solid band version of Motherfolk to the wider world, and gave them a foot in the door to a number of important touring opportunities. Fold was also successful in separating Motherfolk from its Folk roots, and establishing the band as an Indie Rock entity. That delineation remains important as Motherfolk prepares for fresh opportunities. “We did use a lot of acoustic stuff on the first album but then we moved to an Alternative, Indie Rock, almost Surf sound, and we really kind of found our identity with Fold,” Paver says. “Whatever we do in the future, we’ll just build on that. For the first album we were throwing the best songs we had at the album. Fold gave us a chance to step back and think about what we want to actually say with an album and make it a cohesive statement all the way through.” Motherfolk plays the Southgate House Revival on Dec. 22. Tickets/more info: southgatehouse.com.


Drum Legend Kickstarts Piano Project BY M I K E B R EEN

Cincy Groove Celebrates 10th Anniversary On Nov. 17, the website cincygroove.com officially turned 10 years old. Founded by photographer Scott Preston (who also does promotional work for local venues and artists), the site regularly features info on music events around Greater Cincinnati, photo galleries from various concerts and updates on local musicians’ latest projects.

BY M I K E B R EE N The protests in response to the jailing of Meek Mill will likely heat up after a recent bail hearing. The rapper was sentenced to two-to-four years after Judge Genece Brinkley decided two since-dismissed charges violated his parole. During a delayed hearing on Dec. 1, Brinkley denied Mill bail, saying he was a “danger to the community.” Many believe the judge is being exceptionally unfair to Mill and are rallying in support — superstars Jay-Z and Drake, as well as activists like Al Sharpton, have spoken out on the matter. Brinkley is reportedly under FBI investigation for possible “extortionate” demands after she allegedly asked Mill to drop his current management team and sign with a friend of hers.

The Never-Ending Wu-Tang Album Story

Jim Nunn’s biography of John Von Ohlen PHOTO: PROVIDED

tommy womack devils backbone beer tasting

thu 7

human heart near earth objects

fri 8

hissing tiles, hateflirt

s at 9

us, today, moira

sun 10

matthew milia + peter oren

mon 11

willow tree carolers

tue 12

motr mouth: stand-up comedy

writer’s night w/ lucas

free live music open for lunch

1404 main st (513) 345-7981


dance yrSelf clean a tribute to lcd SoundSyStem

We Might Rock You The long-in-the-works authorized biopic on Queen has some bumps on its way to production (Sacha Baron Cohen was originally cast as Freddie Mercury but quit). And now that it’s filming and has a Christmas 2018 release date, it has hit another major snag. The movie has halted production because director Bryan Singer hasn’t showed up on the set since Thanksgiving. Singer’s representatives say his absence is due to health problems, but sources told The Hollywood Reporter that he has missed days before and has been routinely late to the set, frustrating the producers, who are said to be considering replacing him.


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“Santa goeS Straight to the hood” movie premiere


madcap puppetS: juleS & verne’S excellent adventure buy tickets at motr or woodwardtheater.com


Contact Mike Breen: mbreen@citybeat.com

When the only copy of Wu-Tang Clan’s Once Upon A Time In Shaolin was sold for $2 million to the much-hated Martin Shkreli, a faked tweet purported to show a clause in the purchase contract that voided the sale if a member of the Hip Hop group — or Bill Murray — reclaimed it in a “heist or caper.” That would make a great movie, but a script written from the point of view of the actual album might be event better (Charlie Kaufman, are you listening?). Besides its shrouded-in-mystery genesis, the album has lived through Shkreli’s creepy live streams and efforts to sell it on eBay for $1 million (no one knows if it was sold). The latest Shaolin chapter could see it seized by prosecutors involved in Shkreli’s securities fraud case. Could the final scene of Shaolin’s Big Adventure be a sad close-up of the crying album being sold at a police auction for $12?

wed 6


Cincy Groove’s 10-year anniversary is being celebrated (logically) with the Cincy Groove Music Festival, which takes place Saturday at the Southgate House Revival (111 E. Sixth St., Newport, southgatehouse.com). The stacked lineup features some of the best of Cincinnati’s long-stellar Americana scene. Local music veteran Jeremy Francis (who has also performed with acts like Atlas River, Bibs and Barefeet and Blue Caboose) opens the show at 7 p.m. Also on the bill are the progressive Bluegrass/Jazz/Rock/ Etc. group Hickory Robot (which is nearing its own 10th anniversary) and Illinois’ Chicago Farmer, who has built up a local following with regular tour stops in the Cincinnati area. Rounding out the lineup are two of the region’s most popular Roots acts — Buffalo Wabs & the Price Hill Hustle and The Tillers, who will return to the Southgate House Revival on New Year’s Eve for a show with the Legendary Shack Shakers. Tickets for the Cincy Groove Music Festival are $15 in advance or $20 at the door on the day of the show.

1345 main st motrpub.com

Put Through the Mill

DEC. 0 6 –12, 2 0 17

In 2005, drummer John Von Ohlen was inducted into the Cincinnati Entertainment Awards’ Hall of Fame. While his credentials and status in the Jazz world had long been established — Von Ohlen played in Stan Kenton’s and Woody Herman’s groups, as well as with Rosemary Clooney and many others — he is also a longtime educator at the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music and he co-founded the Blue Wisp Big Band in 1980. But at that CEA ceremony, drummers from seemingly every corner of music (including Patrick Keeler of The Greenhornes/Raconteurs/Afghan Whigs fame) watched in awe as The Baron (as he is nicknamed) performed a set with piano player Steve Schmidt and other local Jazz greats, a testament to his jaw-dropping skills and how his legacy truly transcends genres. Von Ohlen has remained very active since receiving those Hall of Fame honors, with 2017 being especially busy. The year began with the release of It’s Gotta Swing: Th e John Von Ohlen Story, a self-published biography written by Jim Nunn. On the live front, while he no longer performs with the Blue Wisp Big Band, he still holds down a weekly gig with his Flying Circus Big Band, which plays a variety of dance-friendly music, including Swing and Latin Jazz, at 7:30 p.m. every Monday at The Greenwich (2442 Gilbert Ave., Walnut Hills, the-greenwich.com). The residency also serves as a benefit for the Freestore Foodbank; admission is $5 or two canned goods. Other members of the Flying Circus Big Band include Billy Byers, Al Cohn, Billy May, Alan Baylock and Frank Foster. Creatively, Von Ohlen’s next project might be a little surprising to some of his fans. The album Th e Pond is based on several compositions written for piano as “compositional exercises.” When renowned pianist Kim Pensyl heard the songs, he invited Von Ohlen into the studio to record them. There is currently a Kickstarter campaign to help bring those recordings to the public. The funds raised will go to covering the production of CDs and also the studio costs. Some of the various perks for donations include autographed CDs and photos, Blue Wisp Big Band CDs on which Von Ohlen played and a cool T-shirt designed by local artist/musician Joshua Moore. The Kickstarter for Th e Pond ends on Dec. 12 and is in need of pledges (it’s an “all of nothing” campaign, so if it doesn’t reach the $5,000 goal, it won’t be funded). Visit kickstarter.com and search “John Von Ohlen” to contribute. Blue Wisp Big Band’s Facebook page (facebook.com/ bluewispbigband) has also been providing updates on the project.



SOUND ADVICE infused between the grooves. Along with his solid playing and singing, Johanson’s willingness to write Blues music without adhering to the genre’s traditional structuring makes for a compelling listen, as does his deeper examination of the emotions that the Blues were built upon. On multiple levels, Burn It Down represents a full-circle journey for Johanson, the most obvious example being his return to the musical field he was so passionate about as a child and onward. Now, he successfully figured out a way to make a living and life out of it. (Mike Breen)


DECEMBER 20 | TAFT THEATER Visit CityBeat.com/win-stuff to enter for a chance to win tickets to this upcoming show!



Eric Johanson with Tab Benoit Saturday • Taft Theatre

DECEMBER 6 Puddles Pity Party

12 Silent Cincy

9 Arin Ray

13 The Four Horsemen: Tribute to Metallica

13 Brett Young: SOLD OUT 15 Kissmas w/ Blackbear SOLD OUT

16 “Never Landing” The Show

23 Thunderstruck: Tribute to ACDC



DEC. 0 6 –12, 2 0 17

29 Saved By The 90’s


19 Black Label Society 20 Tonight Alive & Silverstein 26 Steve Lemme & Kevin Heffernan 27 Chippendales

30 Brojob, Shadow of Intent, The Earth Laid Bare, Denihilist


31 Blake’s Big NYE Bash (18+)

6 Kayzo


8 Corey Smith

5 Southern Accents: Tribute to Tom Petty

11 Starset

6 Resolution: Night of Cincy Rock & Reggae

16 Blues Traveler

11 Bone Thugs-N-Harmony

10 Cin City Burlesque 15 Badfish 23 Iced Earth 27 Why Don’t We: SOLD OUT


It seems like a lot of Blues guitarists begin as a “young Blues prodigy,” something that bodes well for the survival of the uniquely American art form. Google those words and you’ll get a half million results about musicians as young as 8-years-old from all over the world. Louisiana native Eric Johanson is a good example of a young player (he started when he was 5) who worked hard on his chops, stuck with his passion, explored new ground and grew up to become a reputable artist in the Blues world. Inspired by Stevie Ray Vaughan and his family’s rich musical background, Johanson began playing in bands by the time he was 13. The singer/guitarist deviated from the Blues and formed the heavy and progressive Alternative Rock band Cire, which released a pair of albums at the beginning of the millennium, and then further explored beats and electronics with his Emptyself project. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina flooded and destroyed his apartment and studio, leading Johanson (who holds a degree in philosophy) to move to New Zealand the following year. When he returned to New Orleans four years later, the guitarist immersed himself in the city’s music and culture, playing with hometown heroes from the Funk and Zydeco worlds. Eventually finding his way back to Blues, armed with the musical lessons learned — as well as the emotional questions raised and the understanding gained while dealing with the Katrina fallout — Johanson released his Blues-based solo debut, Burn It Down, in October. He found a dedicated supporter in popular Blues artist Tab Benoit, who not only produced Burn It Down in his Louisiana studio but also played drums on the album and released it on the label he cofounded, Whiskey Bayou Records. Burn It Down features tight, multifaceted Blues Rock in which one can hear Johanson’s varied influences subtly


Peter Oren with Matthew Milia Sunday • MOTR Pub

Even a cursory listen to Peter Oren’s two magnificent albums, last year’s Living by the Light and the just-released Anthropocene, will fire sophisticated musical synapses into making a number of relevant connections. As a vocalist and guitarist, Oren’s earthy baritone and plaintively powerful fi ngerpicking style will inspire thoughts of Smog’s Bill Callahan and Brit Folk progenitor Nick Drake, if he’d been raised in the upper Midwest. And as a political activist and a road-bound troubadour, Oren certainly wears the colors of Woody Guthrie and Phil Ochs, who roamed the country they loved in order to sound the alarms for their respective generations about the ills of the day that would have consequences far beyond their lifetimes. Oren was born in Columbus, Ind., setting his poems to music as a high-schooler to deal with teenage angst and as a natural escape valve for his already fi nely developed sense of sociopolitical outrage. After learning the lessons of Occupy Wall Street, Oren loaded his meager belongings into his battered pickup truck and began crisscrossing the country, writing songs about his personal experiences and the collective ennui that has gripped the nation for so long.

Future Sounds Murder By Death – Dec. 30, Southgate House Revival Ben Miller Band – Jan. 10, Southgate House Revival Bone Thugs-NHarmony – Jan. 11, Bogart’s St. Vincent – Jan. 11, Taft Theatre

People Like You

Umphrey’s McGee – Jan. 12 and 13, Taft Theatre

P H O T O : E lle D i o G u a r d

Oren caught an early break with an opening slot for singer/songwriter Joe Pug, whose creative sensibilities mirror his, leading Pug to offer Oren the same opportunity for a bigger Chicago show. Shortly after, Wilco drummer and renowned producer Ken Coomer also took notice and invited Oren to Nashville, where they cherry-picked some of the city’s best talents (including Sturgill Simpson guitarist Laur Joamets and John Fogerty keyboardist Michael Webb) to create an all-star band and make Anthropocene. The title of Oren’s latest potent album is a reference to a recently adopted scientific term describing the epoch of human existence and the effect that our stewardship has had on the planet as a whole, which is not exactly a cheery subject. But unlike a good many Folk naysayers who merely shake their fists at injustice from soapboxes, Oren offers glimmers of hope and inspires people to make an effort to change the things they would like to see changed. On the road, Anthropocene’s sonic atmospherics are stripped down to Oren and his guitar, but that’s exactly how his songs began and, if anything, they blossom into full flowers in that stark environment. (Brian Baker)

Wednesday (Dec. 13) • Southgate House Revival If you’re even a casual fan of Punk, Emo, Indie Rock, Post Rock or any tangentially related combinations or offshoots, chances are you’ve sought out a release from Topshelf Records. Over the past 11 years, the renowned independent label has amassed an impressive roster of nearly 40 artists including respected veteran Indie Rock bands (The City on Film, Mock Orange), more recent but acclaimed newcomers (The World is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die, Field Mouse,

D E C . 0 6 – 1 2 , 2 0 1 7   |   C i t y B e at. c o m

Topshelf Records Tour featuring Prawn, People Like You, Slingshot Dakota and Us and Only Us

Wildhoney) and even Braid, an icon of Post Hardcore/Emo experimentalism. Topshelf was created in 2006 when Seth Decoteau and Kevin Duquette were trying to establish their band as a legitimate entity and thought a real label might offer the desired credibility. When the band fizzled, Decoteau and Duquette decided to maintain the label in order to release albums by their friends’ bands, quickly became an independent success story. Along the way, the label has risen in stature within the industry and relocated from its Boston-area birthplace to new digs in San Diego. After years of buzzy South by Southwest showcases, Topshelf is now presenting a package tour of roster artists, featuring Us and Us Only, People Like You, Slingshot Dakota and Prawn. Dreamy Indie Rock/Slowcore quintet Us and Us Only is touring on Full Flower, its recently released full-length debut after seven years of EPs and singles. The band’s whisper-thin vocals and subtly powerful soundtrack hit with Shoegaze intensity and Ambient emotion. With juddering rhythms and slithering guitar lines, Boston’s People Like You explores the intersection of Indie Rock, Baroque Pop and Jazz on its new sophomore album, Verse, its second full-length in three years. Slingshot Dakota is a sparkling Indie Pop/ Synth Punk duo from Bethlehem, Penn., that mix heavy messages with a light but impactful touch. Since last year’s excellent full-length Break, the twosome has released the brilliant Broken 7-inch, featuring the noisily melodic “Grudge” and the Suddenly, Tammy!-adjacent “Dying Stars.” Headliner Prawn earns its showclosing status with its latest Indie/Emo/ Punk triumph, the roiling, raucous Run. On 2014’s Kingfisher, the Ridgefield, N.J. quintet was considerably more expansive and adventurous musically, but Run finds Prawn cutting away all extraneous elements and aiming straight for its sonic and lyrical core. (BB)


The L argesT seLecTion of hemp on The pL aneT


CityBeat’s music listings are free. Send info to Mike Breen at mbreen@citybeat.com. Listings are subject to change. ★ is CityBeat staff’s stamp of approval.


Your holidaze procrastination station norThsiDe 4179 Hamilton Ave. 513-569-0420 o’BrYonViLLe 2034 Madison Rd. 513-871-HEMP sharonViLLe 11353 Lebanon Rd. 513-524-HEMP


DaYTon 548 Wilmington Ave. 937-991-1015

h e m p, Va p e & s m o k e h a B e r D a s h e r Y

Bogart’s - Puddles ★ Pity Party. 8 p.m. Various. $39.50. BrewRiver GastroPub Old Green Eyes & Bbg. 9 p.m. Jazz. Free. Crow’s Nest - Steve Dirr. 9 p.m. Acoustic. Free. Knotty Pine - Dave Deluca. 10 p.m. Acoustic. Free. The Liberty Inn - Stagger Lee. 7 p.m. Country/Rock. Free. MOTR Pub - Tommy Womack. 10 p.m. Rock/Roots. Free.

Southgate House Revival (Lounge) - Chelsea Ford with Harlot and Twig&Leaf. 8 p.m. Roots/Americana. Free. Urban Artifact - Blue Wisp Big Band. 8:30 p.m. Big Band Jazz. $10.

THURSDAY 07 Arnold’s Bar And Grill Dottie Warner and Wayne Shannon. 7:30 p.m. Jazz. Free. Common Roots - Open Mic. 8 p.m. Various. Free. Crow’s Nest - Aaron Hedrick. 9 p.m. Acoustic. Free. The Greenwich - Mike Sharfe’s Mambo Combo. 8:30 p.m. Latin Jazz. $5.



DEC. 0 6 –12, 2 0 17

Knotty Pine - Chalis. 9 p.m. Pop/Rock/Blues/ Various. Free.


Madison Theater - B105 Toys For Tots Show with Lanco, Morgan Wallen and Walker Mcguire. 7:30 p.m. Country. $20, $25 day of show. McCauley’s Pub - K.J. Summerville. 7 p.m. Country/Varoius. Free. Northside Tavern Karaoke Fantastic. 9 p.m. Various. Free. Southgate House Revival (Lounge) Amber Nash, Andyman Hopkins and Casey Campbell. 8 p.m. Folk/ Americana. Free.

Urban Artifact - Jazz Night with Camp featuring Michael Cruse. 8 p.m. Jazz.

MVP Bar & Grille - Trailer Park Floosies. 9 p.m. Dance/Pop/Rock/Country/ Various. Cover.


Octave - Broccoli ★ Samurai. 9 p.m. Jamtronic. Cover.

Arnold’s Bar And Grill Willow Tree Carolers. 9 p.m. Americana. Free. Blue Note Harrison - Big Smo. 8 p.m. Country Rap. $20. Bogart’s - Zoso. 8 p.m. Led Zep Tribute. $20, $22 day of show. Bromwell’s Härth Lounge - Samantha Carlson with The Steve Schmidt Trio. 8 p.m. Jazz. Free. College Hill Coffee Co. Anna and The Deeper Well. 7:30 p.m. Pop/Folk/Various Common Roots - Shiny Old Soul. 9 p.m. Roots/ Rock/Swing/Blues/Various. Free. Gallagher Student Center Theatre Kneebody. 8 p.m. Jazz/ Fusion/Various. $30-$35.

The Greenwich - “Just Friends” Friday with Kathy Wade. 9 p.m. Jazz. $10. Jim and Jack’s on the River - Danny Frazier. 9 p.m. Country. Free. Knotty Pine - Bad Habit. 10 p.m. Rock. Cover. Lawrenceburg Event Center - Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Evening. 8 p.m. Led Zep Tribute. $50-$85. Madison Live - The Nothing with The Loveless and The Zg’s. 8 p.m. Punk. $8, $10 day of show. Mansion Hill Tavern Soul Pushers. 9 p.m. Blues. $4. Memorial Hall - Over The Rhine’s Acoustic Christmas. 8 p.m. Acoustic. $40-$65.

MOTR Pub - Hissing ★ Tiles with Hateflirt. 10 p.m. Noise Punk. Free.

Plain Folk Café BearFoot Pickers. 7:30 p.m. Bluegrass. Free. Rick’s Tavern - Second Wind. 10 p.m. Rock/Soul/ Various. $5. Silverton Café - Dejavue. 9 p.m. Rock. Free. Southgate House Revival (Lounge) - Mack McKenzie with David Payne. 9:30 p.m. Singer/ Songwriter. Free. Southgate House Revival (Revival Room) - Punk Rock Night with Rat Trap, Methmatics, Lockjaw and The Mudlarks. 10 p.m. Punk Rock. $5. Southgate House Revival (Sanctuary) - Sundy Best with Brother Smith. 9 p.m. Country/Roots/Americana. $15, $18 day of show. The Underground - Battle Of The Bands 2017 SemiFinals with B-Sides, Daniel In Stereo, Lily Isabelle and Break Up Lines. 7 p.m. Various. Cover. Urban Artifact Huckleberry Funk. 9 p.m. Funk. Free. Washington Platform Saloon & Restaurant Rob Dixon Quartet. 9 p.m. Jazz. $10 (food/drink minimum).

SATURDAY 09 Arnold’s Bar And Grill Part-Time Gentlemen. 9 p.m. Americana/Bluegrass. Free. Bogart’s - Arin Ray. 8 p.m. Pop. $10. Bromwell’s Härth Lounge - Steve Schmidt Trio featuring Brian Lovely. 8 p.m. Jazz. Free. Cincinnatian Hotel Philip Paul Trio. 7 p.m. Jazz. Free.


College Hill Coffee ★ Co. - Ma Crow & Co. 7:30 p.m. Bluegrass. Free. The Comet - Twin Trances, Smoke Signals, Cult Of Sorrow and Draculas. 10 p.m. Rock/Punk/Metal/ Various. Free. Jim and Jack’s on the River - Radio Romance. 9 p.m. Country. Free. Knotty Pine - Bad Habit. 10 p.m. Rock. Cover. Live! At The Ludlow Garage - Kris Allen. 8 p.m. Pop. $25-$50. Macadu’s - Ambush. 9 p.m. Rock. Free. Madison Live - Round 2 Crew. 8 p.m. Pop/Rap. $15-$250. Mansion Hill Tavern Johnny Fink and The Intrusion. 9 p.m. Blues. $4. Memorial Hall - Over The Rhine’s Acoustic Christmas. 8 p.m. Acoustic. $40-$65.

MOTR Pub - Us, Today ★ with Moira. 10 p.m. Post Rock/Experimental/ Indie/Various. Free.

Northside Tavern - Hang The DJ: Second Annual Smiths & Morrissey Dance Night. 10 p.m. DJ/Indie/ Dance. Free. Northside Yacht Club The Rubs, Black Planet and Dinge. 8 p.m. Rock. Free.

Silverton Café - Night Owls. 9 p.m. Various. Free. Southgate House Revival (Lounge) - Whistle Stop Revue. 9:30 p.m. Bluegrass/Americana/ Rock/Country/Various. Free. Southgate House ★ Revival (Sanctuary) - Cincy Groove Music

Festival featuring Chicago Farmer, The Tillers, Buffalo Wabs & The Price Hill Hustle, Hickory Robot and Jeremy Francis. 7 p.m. Folk/Roots/Americana. $15, $20 day of show.

Taft Theatre - Tab ★ Benoit with Eric Johanson. 8 p.m. Blues.

$22, $25 day of show (in the Ballroom).

Urban Artifact - Go ★ Go Buffalo, Tiger Sex, Ad.Ul.T, John Bender

Irish Heritage Center Irish Christmas In America. 2 p.m.; 7 p.m. Irish/Celtic. $27, $30 day of show.

Plain Folk Café - The Jenkins Twins. 7:30 p.m. Americana. Free.

Memorial Hall - Over ★ The Rhine’s Acoustic Christmas. 2 p.m. Acoustic.

The Greenwich ★ Baron Von Ohlen & The Flying Circus Big Band.

12/8 - sundy best, brother smith; mack mckenzie, david payne; punk rock night: rat trap, methmatics, the absolute beginners, the mudlarks

7:30 p.m. Jazz. $5 (or two canned-good donations for the FreeStore Foodbank).

Incline Lounge At The Celestial - Tom Schneider. 6 p.m. Jazz. Free. McCauley’s Pub - Open Jam with Sonny Moorman. 7 p.m. Blues/Various. Free.


MOTR Pub - Matthew ★ Milia and Peter Oren. 8 p.m. Indie Folk. Free.

12/9 - cincy groove music festival: chicago farmer, the tillers, buffalo wabs & the price hill hustle, hickory robot, Jeremy francis; the whistle stop revue; band of pirates year end revelry! 12/13 - topshelf records tour: prawn, slingshot dakota, people like you, us and us only; chelsea ford & the trouble, the old souls string band 12/14 - the steel wheels; wilder, t. lipscomb, arlo mckinley & the lonesome sound; Josh morningstar


Wednesday 12/6

Open Mic w/ Bill & Amy 8-11

Thursday 12/7

Todd Hepburn & Friends 8-11

Friday 12/8

Vocalist Samantha Carlson w/ The Steve Schmidt Trio 8-12

saTurday 12/9 The Steve Schmidt Trio feat. Brian Lovely 8-12



Wed. - Fri. open @ 4pm | Sat. open @ 6pm 125 West Fourth st. | CinCinnati, ohio 45202


Muggbees Bar & Grill - Karaoke DJ. 8 p.m. Various. Free. Northside Tavern - The Qtet. 9:30 p.m. Fusion/ Jazz/Funk/Various. Free.

TUESDAY 12 BrewRiver GastroPub John Ford. 6 p.m. Blues/ Roots. Free. Christ Church Cathedral - Music@Lunch with The Sunburners. 12:10 p.m. Holiday. Free. The Comet - Marr. 10 p.m. Alt/Electronic/Pop. Free. Stanley’s Pub Trashgrass Tuesday featuring members of Rumpke Mt. Boys. 9 p.m. Bluegrass. Cover.



Northside Tavern Classical Revolution. 8 p.m. Classical/Chamber/ Various. Free.



Shady O’Grady’s - Sonny Moorman. 9:30 p.m. Solo Blues.

12/7 - two beards & a babe: amber nash, andyman hopkins, casey campbell

no Cover

DEC. 0 6 –12, 2 0 17

Various. $5.


MOTR Pub - Willow Street Carolers. 9 p.m. Folk/ Americana

Mansion Hill Tavern Open Jam with Deb Ohlinger. 6 p.m. Various. Free.

Rick’s Tavern ★ Elementree Livity Project. 10 p.m. Reggae/

12/6 - chelsea ford & the trouble - dec. artist in residence, harlot, twig & leaf

Westside Venue - Saving Stimpy. 9:30 p.m. Rock. Free.


live MusiC

Lewis Connell, Kaitlyn Peace & The Electric Generals, Rachel Mousie, Abby Vice with Vice Ensemble, Mockery, Karla Weisenberger and Jess Lamb And The Factory. 6 p.m. Various.

Washington Platform Saloon & Restaurant Ron Jones. 9 p.m. Jazz. $10 (food/drink minimum).

Octave - Hyryder. 9 p.m. Grateful Dead Tribute. Cover.

Pompilios - John Ford. 7 p.m. Blues/Roots. Free.

Urban Artifact ★ Pianos For Puerto Rico Benefit Concert with

The Mockbee - Oh Jam! presents Off Tha Block Mondays with Hosts Stallitix, Goodword, DJ Noah I Mean, Chestah T, Gift Of Gabi, Christian, Toph and Preston Bell Charles III. 10 p.m. Hip Hop. Free.

and Vampire Weekend At Bernie’s. 9 p.m. Punk/ Various. Free.

111 E 6th St Newport, KY 41071




| DEC. 0 6 –12, 2 0 17


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11/20/17 10:07 AM

Profile for Cincinnati CityBeat

Citybeat | Dec. 06, 2017  

The Holiday Issue

Citybeat | Dec. 06, 2017  

The Holiday Issue


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