Friday, March 30, 2012

Some of the Early 1900’s Still Remain at Fern Bank Park

Grand Old Oak Trees Along the Promenade
      Our early spring has resulted in an instant flowering of trees and vegetation.  Earlier this month, I was on the city’s west side and ventured through Fern Bank Park, 63 acres sprawling along the Ohio River for more than a mile in Saylor Park.  The park is maintained by the city offering a mixture of old and new structures.  Many of the veteran trees were lost in a 1974 tornado, but the main promenade is still canopied with some of those massive oaks.  After the leaves are out, it’s truly a special place to watch the river traffic and passers by from the many benches along the river walk.

A View Showing the Old Docking Station
and Dexter Watching Roller Skaters

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Classic Cuisine of Daveed's at 934

Dexter Waiting at the Entrance
      We've been fans of Daveed's at 934 since its opening.  It was one of the first new American menus to surface on the Cincinnati restaurant scene in late 1999.  That, along with the charismatic husband and wife team of David and Liz Cook (he's the chef and she runs the front of the house) and the eclectic interior, received a lot of attention.  

The Lively Interior
      Out to celebrate Lisa's birthday, she chose it as our destination.  Nothing much had changed visually since our last visit…the same arched mirrored faux windows, some colorful artwork, and a broken up layout that only an older building could conjure up.  We had a 6:30 p.m. reservation and it appeared that the serving crew was still warming up for

Monday, March 26, 2012

Suzanne Collins, "The Hunger Games" is a BLAST!

Dexter with Suzanne Collins

I remember when I had to compete for food!

     I first saw a display of The Hunger Games at Joseph-Beth in the summer of 2009 and I thought the book flap copy sounded intriguing, but as there was already an announced sequel, I thought it was going be a second-rate contender in the Harry Potter/Twilight Young Adult Blockbuster derby.  In the winter of 2011, I asked participants in our high school program a question about the trilogy and twelve hands shot up immediately.  Except for a question about Martin Luther King Jr., no other question in

Sunday, March 25, 2012

"The Tree of Life": The Movie as Coffee Table Book

      Imagine two slide shows interspersed with each other.  One is an evolutionary exploration of the beginning of life on Earth.  The other shows some incidents in a Texas middle-class family’s summer some time in the 1950s.  At various times, a couple of speakers say something about that Texas

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Fresh Table Is Set At Findlay Market

Fresh Table's Stall at Findlay Market
      The title Fresh Table seems simplistic enough for a food vendor inside Findlay Market.  A name should tell exactly what a place is all about. Co-founders Meredith Tromley and Louis Snowden search for the finest local ingredients and

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

“Pariah” and Romare Bearden at the Taft: Wary Exuberance

     Pariah, written and directed by Dee Rees and photographed by Bradford Young, is a female coming of age comedy drama that doesn’t pull any punches in its plotline and visually vibrates.  It’s a gorgeous movie with a pulsating color palette in perfect sync with the Hip Hop and Soul/Rock soundtrack.  In Look, I Made A Hat (more about that extraordinary book and its prequel in a later article), Stephen Sondheim reveals his admiration for Rap and Hip Hop

Monday, March 19, 2012

“Time Stands Still”: A Bread and Butter Production at Ensemble

     Donald Margulies’ Time Stands Still directed by Michael Evan Haney at Ensemble fits very well into the realistic, bourgeois comedy-drama slot that usually occurs at that theatre each spring.  I don’t intend that observation disparagingly because the intelligent, witty play that deals with timely issues in a realistic mode is probably one of the best ways to ensure an adult, middle class audience.  Margulies is the latest in a grand America tradition of the liberal Jewish award-winning commercial playwright that started with Lillian Hellman and continued with Clifford Odets, Arthur Miller, Arthur Laurents (the most under-rated and under-produced of the group), Neil Simon, and Larry Kramer.   What they lack in formal adventurousness, they make up for in a strong, clear plotline, and complex, smart characters.  And, most importantly, while their works are very much of a specific period and milieu, their best ones rarely feel dated.  I think this is the fourth Margulies play that Ensemble has produced.

Dexter with Jen Johansen on the Set of Time Stands Still
     Time Stands Still presents Sarah Goodwin (a plain sounding name that is a strong metaphor), a photojournalist severely injured in an Iraqi roadside bombing, returning stateside. She needs to recover physically whereas her

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Green Papaya: A Satisfying Thai Experience

      It was like slipping down a secluded alley in Bangkok into the sleeved entrance of Green Papaya.  The inside was all Asian in flavor from the lacquered finishes to the jasmine rice.  The low lighting (partially from the dreary rain outside) and the Thai background music added to my lunch escape.  

The Ambience at Green Papaya
      I was meeting Kathy, who lives down the street, but had never been there.  We settled as our server highlighted the

Friday, March 16, 2012

Must Monet Demand So Much Attention at the Cincinnati Art Museum?

Cincinnati Art Museum Entrance
      It seems like an Impressionist show pops up every other year or whenever a museum wants to increase its attendance or recognition.  It's a great premise and one that works, especially when Monet is somehow included.  There  

The Footbridge, Giverny
are currently three such shows in our area: Renoir to Chagall: Paris and the Allure of Color at the Speed Museum in Louisville (see our post from 2/12/2012), Monet to Matisse: Celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the Sirak Collection at the Columbus Museum of Art, and Monet in Giverny: Landscapes of Reflection at the Cincinnati Art Museum.  

Thursday, March 15, 2012

“A Separation”: The Best Family Drama of the Year

Through the Streets of Tehran
     The Best Foreign Film Oscar was very deservedly awarded to A Separation from Iran a couple of weeks ago.  It’s akin to when The Lives of Others won five years ago, i.e. the arguably best movie of the year was not in English.  It begins simply with a middle-class housewife deciding to leave her husband and daughter because he doesn’t want to use their hard won

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

For the Second Consecutive Year, Cincinnati Keeps Food & Wine Best New Chef Title

"Best New Chef" Daniel Wright of Senate
      Congratulations to Chef Daniel Wright of Senate, winner of Food & Wine magazine's The People's Best New Chef Award for the Great Lakes Region.  The publication nominates 10 new chefs yearly from 10 regions across the country, but the winners are voted by the people.  According to Food & Wine,

Monday, March 12, 2012

Nick Cave: Yeti Bodysuits at the Cincinnati Art Museum

      The Cincinnati Art Museum is currently focused on Chicago-based artist Nick Cave.  His medium is textiles and the pieces are structured around the body in a variety of shapes and finished with buttons, ribbons and, most spectacularly, hair.  There are elements of fashion, clothing, 
and performance in each sculpture.  One piece resembled a green abominable snowman riding a giant polar bear.  The bear was covered in white sweaters and one prominent label was ‘Land’s End’ – an ironic touch.  There are videos that show people wearing these fabric sculptures, moving and dancing in public celebrations.  We suggest you view the video after seeing the pieces as it allows the imagination to interpret its own movement.  In an inspired move, due to renovations, the exhibit is spread throughout most of the museum.  

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Reserve March 12-21 for Spring Restaurant Week

      The original is back for another 10 days of dining and wining.  Check out the list of independent restaurants that will be displaying their favorite dishes all for the amazing price of $26.12 for three courses.  Depending on the restaurant it may be an appetizer, entrée, and dessert or an appetizer, salad or soup, and entrée with the option of adding a dessert for a nominal fee.  Wine pairings are available at most restaurants at modest prices also.  Enjoy some of the city's finer restaurants as they say "thank you" to their patrons and welcome new ones.

Friday, March 9, 2012

“Merrily We Roll Along”: Finally, it works in a Must-See

The Cast with Dexter at the Marx Theatre*

      John Doyle directs Stephen Sondheim and George Furth’s Merrily We Roll Along at the Playhouse in a production that mines and polishes the jeweled potential that critics have claimed for this work, but which audiences haven’t always seen.  Until now, that is.  As in his great production of Company (2006), Doyle strips the show to its basics – the music performed by actor-musicians in a strong ensemble

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Why Congress Should Listen to “The Voice”

      People grouse about Washington, either because they think the President is too strong/not strong enough or, more recently, because Congress yaps a lot for publicity, but does little.   And I think most of us know that Congress does little because the members are too worried about being re-elected,

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Tano Bistro and Catering: A Good Reason to visit Loveland

The Main Dining Room
      We were looking for a place to meet my cousin George and some friends that would be close to I-275 at a peculiar time (2:30 p.m. for lunch) and it couldn’t be too far from Montgomery.  Neil checked out Urbanspoon to see what was ranked there and he found Tano, which he remembered Carole and Tom really liked.  We couldn’t make a reservation because we weren’t certain the number that would be eating

Monday, March 5, 2012

Heartless Bastards – Can Any American Rock Band Touch Them Right Now?

Dexter Hangs Out with Heartless Bastards
      Recently, a number of bands that either originated in Ohio or are based here have taken off nationally.  The Black Keys have gone from clubs to stadiums and, though I liked them back in 2004, I don’t feel compelled to listen to any of their

Sunday, March 4, 2012

A Long Shelf Life is Predicted for Cake Flour

Sidewalk Café at Cake Flour
      On a recent visit to Louisville, our final destination was Cake Flour, a natural baking company, in the NULU neighborhood on the near east side of downtown.  The area was interspersed with businesses, factories, and vacant

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Lynn's Paradise Cafe—A Daily Party in Louisville

The Playfulness Beckons

      Themed restaurants once covered the landscape from coast to coast.  They slowly died out, finally becoming an enigma.  But, in 1991, Lynn Winter had a calling to open Lynn's Paradise Cafe in the Highlands neighborhood (after a short stint elsewhere).  Lynn incorporated her love of furniture

Friday, March 2, 2012

A Shout Out to Actors’ Theatre of Louisville

      We saw The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity by Kristoffer Diaz at ATL this past week and, even though it’s closed, I want to recognize it anyway.  Actors’ Theatre of Louisville has been one of the great incubators of new works through its annual Humana Festival, which plays throughout March and April.  Chad Deity is a recent work that was nominated for the 2010 Pulitzer Prize.  It lost to Next to Normal (we reviewed the excellent production we saw at Ensemble in the fall), but I think it’s a stronger literary work than Normal.  

Alex Hernandez as Mace with Dexter (foreground)
and Kamal Angelo Bolden as Chad Deity
      The problem it faces is that it is less likely to enter into the national repertory because it requires three actors that must plausibly resemble professional wresters and then actually

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Get Ready For 10 Days of Music, Singing, and Celebration

Dexter Helps Out Twirl and Whirl
      It's the 2012 World Choir Games and they're coming to your backyard!  Not quite—but they will be in several venues all over downtown Cincinnati from July 4-14.  Tickets go on sale at 10am today, March 1, and it looks like there's something for everyone's taste and budget  An all day pass that will get you into all of the competitions that day is $15.  A 3-day pass is just $40.  Opening and Closing Ceremonies and Celebration Concerts offer tickets as low as $25.  Take a look at all of the competitions and plan to take in as many as you can. 

The Official Poster
by C.F. Payne
There's also the official poster illustrated by Cincinnati native C. F. Payne for $30.  Start thinking about how you'll react when groups of strangers start singing to you on the streets of Cincinnati!