Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Experience Eli's BBQ In Its Entirety

      Every time a new BBQ place opens my reaction is "do we really need another one"?  And when I start hearing a buzz about it, I think "really"?  So Louie and I set out to give Eli's BBQ the test as we had done so many times when we were traveling around the U.S. together on photo shoots and would seek out local BBQ joints.  

      I had a heads up from the previous weekend when Mary Beth brought Eli's pulled pork to a gathering.  It was of high quality with little fat and had a smoked aroma surrounding it.  The sauce was both tangy and sweet.  I had seconds.

Eli's—A Contemporary BBQ Joint

      Eli's is located on a section of Riverside Drive that is just starting to take off.  With ample off-street parking, it is poised to

Monday, February 27, 2012

"The Artist" Takes 5 Oscars Along With "Hugo"

Billy Crystal Hosts the Oscars
Thank you to the Academy…for bringing back Billy Crystal!  Eric thinks he should be the permanent host.  The highlight last evening was the opening number with him appearing in segments from several of the nominated pictures—the signature opening that he created back in 1990.  After that, I have to admit that I nodded off for a while.  Neil and Eric caught me up when I woke up for the last three awards.  I heard Neil say "Oh, no" when they announced Meryl Streep and then she called him out when she said "I thought i could hear half of America saying 'oh, no' when my named was called".  Now that was weird!  He felt bad because he really does like everything that she does.  We were just all cheering for Viola Davis this year.  And Jean Dujardin was a bit of a surprise too. Congratulations to all of the winners!  It was a big night and I'm pooped this morning.

      Dexter came out on top by predicting 8 out of 12.  The Academy agreed with 3 of Neil's picks, and only 1 of Eric's.  Everyone has their favorites and there has been much

Saturday, February 25, 2012

“A Better Life” Tackles Two American Taboos

      Demián Bichir is nominated for the Oscar for A Better Life, which played in Cincinnati for a week last summer.  Mark Harris also wrote about it recently in Entertainment Weekly.  I hope these two occurrences get it some greater attention than it has so far received.  No one has written so far that it has the

Thursday, February 23, 2012

An Evening in Florence (KY) at Karlo's Bistro Italia

Angel Hair with Chicken and Spinach
      I'm enjoying part II of my Angel Hair with Chicken and Spinach from a few days ago.  I don't always write and eat at the same time, but then kitty bags don't always inspire one to do so.  All of the flavors were still vibrant with the angel hair pasta, chicken, and spinach awakened from the reheating.  The light lemon-agilo-olio was the mild sauce that brought it all together originally and continued to do so.  The only thing missing was our server grating fresh parmesan on top.

Entrance to Karlo's Bistro Italia
      We weren't expecting the crowd when we arrived at Karlo's in Florence on a Saturday night.  The parking lot was full and we found ourselves in the overflow area.  We were meeting Chris and Mark and luckily I had the foresight of making a reservation.  It had been several years since any of us had dined at Karlo's so obviously the word was out. Eric and I have never had a bad experience there nor any issues with the preparations.  We were immediately seated and our server, Chucko, set the tone for the evening. We felt unhurried and

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Our Votes for the 2012 Academy Awards

I actually saw some of the nominees this year on Movies on Demand.  They were mostly for performances though.  Congrats to Uggie, Blackie, and Cosmo (and their agents) for keeping the canine profile out there.  Maybe there'll be more feline roles next year.  I think The Artist will be the big winner, and I like the fact that it's mostly silent.  Something that I'm not

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

“Speaking in Tongues”: Terrific Ensemble in a Flawed Production

      Andrew Bovell’s Speaking in Tongues at the Playhouse’s Shelterhouse stage starts with a real coup de theatre.  Two couples, contemplating infidelity, begin assignations in hotel rooms.  They’re in two different locations, but it’s the same set and they say the same lines to each other, but with completely different intonations.  As the first act progresses and those four characters interact with one another, the writing deepens, but rather than turning into a more serious version of Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice, it turns into a mystery and that was when Neil and I realized that

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Gallery Veronique To Help Save The Congo

Fishermen at Zanzibar Harbor by George Brose

      An East African photography exhibit by five artists will be on view at the Gallery Veronique in Harper's Point opening with a reception on Saturday, February 25 from 5 to 9:30pm.  The exhibit will continue through Saturday, March 3 with proceeds benefitting Project Congo, an organization formed

Friday, February 17, 2012

Mardi Gras at Findlay Market

      Findlay Market's free Mardi Gras celebration is Sunday, February 19 beginning at 10:30 with events throughout the day until 4pm. in the OTR area of downtown CIncinnati.  Now in its 8th year there will be a parade, food samplings, music tent, and the traditional beads with a King and Queen crowned.  Market shops will be offering special food selections for sale from beignets at Skitz & Johnston to shrimp and grits waffles at Taste of Belgium.  Plan on getting your family and friends there early for the market's largest event of the year!

Parking options can be found at:

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Beginners: Gormless

      We missed Beginners when it played for months at The Esquire, but caught up with it on Movies on Demand (thanks cable) because the conventional wisdom seems to be that Christopher Plummer will win the Oscar.  He probably will because he’s one of the oldest nominees.  Max von Sydow is older, but none of his movies have been as popular as or play on TV as much as The Sound of Music.  Plummer and Cosmo, the Jack Russell terrier who plays his dog Arthur, are the liveliest elements of this film.  

Christopher Plummer
      It’s based on writer-director Mike Mills’ own life and he may have needed greater emotional distance from the subject matter to give it some narrative juice.  Mills uses some cute (gimmicky?) ways to tell the story by repeating specific beats

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A Night at the Louisville Museum

Eric surprised Neil with an overnight trip to Louisville as his Christmas gift.  They both were so busy around the holidays that they weren't able to get away until last week.  Of course they invited me to go along, but I preferred to stay back and watch the house…or sleep all day…no one will ever know!

DAY ONE: Rolling down I-71 we called Actors' Theatre of Louisville at 10 AM for tickets to their evening performance.  The theatre reserves 20 tickets at $20 available the day of the performance.  We luckily snagged a pair to The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity.  Now our first stop would be lunch at Jack Fry's (see our 
Jack Fry's Dining Room
separate review from 2/5/2012) on Bardstown Road in The Highlands.  It's one of several quirky bohemian neighborhoods that we found on the southeast side of downtown.  Jack Fry's is an award winning landmark that has been serving since 1933 with a ten year interruption in the '70s.  It's a sportsmen's style atmosphere that we found entertaining on many levels with superb food.

      From there we followed a route through the University of Louisville. It's a large campus with little visual appeal other than some of the buildings dating back to 1923 when the campus was moved to its present location.  A highlight was one of the casts of The Thinker by Auguste Rodin in front of Grawemeyer Hall.  

Entrance to Churchill Downs and the Derby Museum
      Just around the corner was Churchill Downs, site of the longest running sporting event in the US and "the most exciting two minutes in sports" -- the Kentucky Derby.  We were hoping for a Derby Day experience and that was exactly what we had!  We started with the 360º movie in the Derby Museum, after which it was time for our first escorted tour of

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Renoir to Chagall: The Allure of Color in Louisville

Speed Art Museum
      The Speed Art Museum on the University of Louisville campus has a comprehensive collection that covers the major periods of art of the last 
Hans Arp Sculpture
five hundred years.  There are a couple of beautiful works by Hans (Jean) Arp and Ida Lansky in the upper level.  It also presents some intriguing exhibitions, the latest being Renoir to Chagall:  Paris and the Allure of Color.  It runs until May 6 and it’s worth checking out.  It consists of ninety pieces so it’s possible to thoroughly cover both it and the museum in a couple of hours.  

Dexter Guards the Entrance to the Exhibit
Dancer Adjusting Her Shoes
by Edgar Degas

      “Paris and the allure of color” is a misnomer.  The major subjects (figures in exteriors and interiors, landscapes, seascapes, and still-lifes) and painters are all in evidence.  Monet and Degas are still incredible even with only a couple of examples of their work, but Renoir is horribly over-rated because his half dozen great works aren’t on display.  It’s ‘the others’ that make up the bulk of the

Friday, February 10, 2012

Shame: So the Penis Earns the NC-17

      Steve McQueen’s Shame starring Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan has garnered attention because it’s ‘controversial’, i.e. it shows a lot of sex, but most significantly displays that Fassbender’s amply endowed both physically and artistically.  Fassbender plays Brandon, a creative type who works in some type of New York agency.  The hook is that he is a sex addict whose sister Sissy, played by Mulligan, is emotionally voracious yet also as incapable of connection.   Fassbender gets across the range of conflicting reactions to

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Go for the Sampler Plate

      For the past 26 years every art form in the Cincinnati area has been showcased during the Sampler Weekends. Starting Saturday, February 11, and continuing on February 25 and March 10, Artswave will continue with the tradition.  From music to museums and dance to theater, it's a chance to "sample" everything the area has to offer from the arts perspective throughout the year.  

      Artswave is the organization that operates as the fundraiser (formerly the Fine Arts Fund, which we felt was a much better descriptive name) and underwriter for many of the art programs in our area encouraging participation from younger patrons that normally would not have exposure to the arts.  Macy's is the sponsor again this year (thank you!) and has developed an App featuring a complete list of events, venue descriptions, and mapping.  

      It's a great time to support Artswave, as well as the arts, by exploring a new form that you may not normally patronize!

For a complete calendar of events:

Jack Fry’s: An Evergreen Classic in Louisville

      We found Jack Fry’s on Tripadvisor and also checked Urbanspoon.  It’s considered the top in Louisville. It opened in 1933 and the current owner is the third.  We stopped by for lunch at 11 a.m. on a weekday when it opened and it was packed by noon. It’s a restaurant that has a huge, diverse local following.  

The Sportman's Dining Room
      The interior is somewhat dark with many framed photos on the walls and a number of awards that are discreetly placed high above eye level.  It feels like a club from sometime in the 1930s to 1950s period and there is an air of time worn chic about the place (one booth had a taped seat).  However, the maitre d’ and servers are friendly, polite, and elegant in their whites.  The servers refill beverages before a diner even realizes the levels have decreased.  

Carrot Soup

      The food is extraordinary.  Neil and I followed our server’s suggestions for the entire meal and we were highly satisfied.  Neil had a cup of the Soup of the Day, which was a carrot purée with crabmeat throughout, topped with a little honey.  There had to have been a roux base because it was smooth and creamy without any bits of carrot in it.  There were sweet and garlic notes that rendered it both clean and simultaneously smoky.  Okay, I’ve made it sound like some type of wine and it

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Thanks Madonna (after a difficult month)

Madonna's Grand Entrance
      Madonna’s epic narcissism has been on ugly display since winning the Golden Globe for best song.  When does Mary J. Blige get the respect she deserves?  Madonna went on to slam Lady Gaga, who had the greater maturity not to

Trio Bistro Stays on a Conventional Course

Lunchtime at Trio Bistro
      Trio is a restaurant that conjures up the attitude and look of some establishments I’ve visited in southern Florida.  I’m not talking about the beachside resorts, but the more sedate neighborhood diners found in Ft. Lauderdale and Miami suburbs.  Eric and I frequented Trio in the '90s, but put it on

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Yep, the Oscars actually picked some of the best

Dexter Eyes the Big Prize

     The Oscar nominations came out last week and we didn’t write about them because the nominations were pretty good in the major categories.  As far as I’m concerned, Hugo, Viola Davis, Brad Pitt, Melissa McCarthy, Martin Scorsese, and Bridesmaids’ script were the best of the year in their categories.  I wish Armie Hammer had been nominated for J. Edgar because I thought he was elegant and heartfelt even