Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Two New Award-Winning Mystery Writers, One of Whom is Breathtaking

     Lori Roy won the Edgar for Best First Novel this year for Bent Road.  Gillian Flynn won a number of awards for her first novel, was nominated for her second, and has what should probably be a bestseller with her third (and I say this without

Monday, July 30, 2012

"Beasts of the Southern Wild": Inimitable

     Benh Zeitlin’s Beasts of the Southern Wild is a one-of-a-kind surreal experience from a child’s point of view that both imagines and presents an apocalypse based on climate change.  However, this might be a metaphor for a child coming to terms with her place in the universe and in understanding her relationship with her difficult parents.  Neil didn’t believe that the movie presented the narrative in chronological order and he’s right.  In thinking through exactly what happened to the little girl Hush Puppy and her father Wink, some of it had to be in her imagination.

Quevenzhané Wallis and Dwight Henry
     Quevenzhané Wallis as Hush Puppy and Dwight Henry as Wink are remarkable.  The other performers that inhabit the delta area south of New Orleans that they’ve named ‘the Bathtub’ have the faces and attitudes of people caught

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Enzo’s: Good Food and Coffee in OTR's Hottest Area

      Enzo’s opened in Highland Heights nine years ago and quickly established itself as the lunch spot for many people working at NKU.  This took owners Al and Al jr. Enzo by surprise because they wanted to focus on being a coffee/latté shop.  The food was good (the soups came from the same supplier that works with Panera) and the coffee drinks were excellent.  In 2006, Enzo’s moved to downtown Cincinnati as part of the City Council’s and 3CDC’s move to revitalize the central core with local, independent businesses.  It was a sad day for northern Kentucky, but it made sense for Enzo’s.

Contemporary Italian Interior
     Jump forward to 2012 and Enzo’s is still downtown and across the street from the School for the Creative and Performing Arts (SCPA) and the newly renovated Washington Park.  There’s edgy artwork by the SCPA students on the

Friday, July 27, 2012

Washington Park: Finally a Place for All

The Entrance Featuring Rookwood Tiles
      I first heard about a renovation of Washington Park in Over-the-Rhine while paying a visit to the Schickel Design Company in 2007 that faces the then dilapidated city park.  When the plans were released in 2010, I was excited about what the area was to become.  On Friday, July 6, 2012 the vision came to life with the opening of the city's latest reconstruction of Washington Park.

Hand-Painted Silk Flags
for the Park Opening
      The opening coincided with the city's hosting of the World Choir Games.  Hand-painted silk flags helped draw attention to the central feature, a historic American bandstand completely restored and modernized.  The banners displayed the works of local artists telling the story of a person or organization associated with the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood.  The flags remain in the park until September 2012.  

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

"Moonrise Kingdom": This was a Literate, Middle-Class Childhood During Camelot

     Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom looked quirky, peculiar, and downright funny in its preview.  When we finally saw it, I turned to Neil after about thirty seconds and said, “Is this supposed to be set in 1962?”  A moment later, a postmarked letter showed that it was 1965.  That’s when quirky and peculiar were replaced by ‘oh, this is a period movie’ and it’s for families.  Actually, its target audience is the

Monday, July 23, 2012

Gateway Quarter Lab Takes Flight

Dexter Explores the Gateway Quarter
     Our trip to 1215 Wine Bar and Coffee Lab was for one purpose—dessert and coffee.  We had dined at Bakersfield OTR next door with Ann and Woody and since they don't have any sweets on the menu, our Bakersfield server suggested the lab.  On an earlier walk by one Saturday night the mood

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Gone Girl: Believe The Hype – This is an Instant Classic

     Gillian Flynn’s latest novel Gone Girl is the number one bestseller.  It places Flynn in the front ranks of American novelists, regardless of genre, gender, or anything else.  Like other reviewers, I don’t want to give away too much because part of the very adult fun of this work is that the narrative clips along like a kaleidoscope (Flynn's earlier Dark Places was

Friday, July 20, 2012

"To Rome With Love": Time for Woody Allen to Call It Quits?

     To Rome With Love is Woody Allen’s latest travelogue after the recently dark and dangerous Match Point (London), the sexy Vicky Christina Barcelona and last year’s magical Midnight in Paris, but it’s a major step down and is merely amusing and somewhat quaint.  There are four stories that aren’t interconnected in terms of narrative, but reflect on different aspects of taking a chance, two of them about love.  There are a couple of original ideas – an ordinary, middle-aged guy who

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Scouts Honor

      I jokingly say that I was a Boy Scout for two weeks.  That's not fully factual since I never really joined.  I went to two meetings that were held on the second floor of our Town Hall.  I was excited about the prospect of becoming a scout and spent most of the meetings fantasizing about who would become my friends while making the wood floor squeak with the bottoms of my shoes along with the other boys.  After assessing the lot and activities over those two weeks, I confessed to my family that I didn't want to become a scout because I didn't want to go on the overnight camping trips.  To this day, camping is not in my vocabulary and "roughing it" is a night at the Red Roof Inn.

      The Scoutmaster was an acquaintance of our family and convinced my mother that scouting would be good for me.  I didn't realize what effeminate meant so long ago, but now I can identify that he was and I felt embarrassed because I wasn't really interested in the scouting adventure.  He was an enthusiastic leader and took a special interest in me.  Even with all of the attention, I couldn't join the force.  He ran into my brother-in-law a couple of years ago and asked how I was doing.  I thought of all the boys he had worked with over the years and all that he had taught them about becoming scouts and men.  As a gay (albeit closeted) Scoutmaster, he was fully committed to making a difference in their lives.  No one questioned his sexuality because he had such a fine record with the Boy Scouts.

      Then in the late 90's the Mormons (they are the largest group sponsoring Boy Scout troops) initiated a ban on gays joining the now 102-year-old organization.  It went all the way to the Supreme Court where it was upheld in 2000.  There has been meeting after meeting, and yesterday the Boy Scouts of America reaffirmed their ban on gays.  It made me think about my two weeks with them and how whether the leadership realizes it or not, there are gays in their society and probably always have been and will continue to be.  Its exclusion made me realize just how ridiculous their statement was.  I had the chance to be a gay scout and turned them down.  Whether it was premonition or lack of interest, I reaffirmed my decision.

I guess that leaves me out too.

“Magic Mike”: “Valley of the Dolls” Redux

     The primarily middle-aged, female audience that attended the matinée when we saw Magic Mike was there to see Channing Tatum et al. dance and strip.  If it had just been about that experience, it would have been fun.  However, the writer-producer Reid Carolin decided that there needed to be a story so he chose the moldy cliché of the performer who reaches too far and has to be brought down.  Back in the early ‘40s when the performers were female starlets, it was called Ziegfeld Girl and along with dreary Lana Turner, whose character turns to alcohol, there was the eye candy of Hedy Lamarr as the gal who lands a rich guy, and the propulsive talent of Judy Garland as the kid who makes it.  In the ‘60s, drugs substituted for alcohol, resulting in the wildly tawdry Valley of the Dolls.  In the ‘70s, the black version was Sparkle and it’s a minor gem because both Lonette McKee and Irene Cara were crackerjack singer-actresses.

Dexter Performs with the Strippers
     I wish there was a scene like Patty Duke screaming, “I am Neely O’Hara” in the alleyway at the end of Valley in Magic Mike, but no such luck.  Critics have been remarkably

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Why It's Truly Wunderbar!

      For years, Neil and I wondered why there wasn’t a good, relaxed German restaurant in a region that was settled by German immigrants.  Lenhardt’s always seemed pricey and The Iron Skillet was both mediocre and pricey, while Mecklenburg Gardens only offered one or two dishes that could be considered German.  Schmidt’s in Columbus (and at Oktoberfest in Cincinnati) has done a roaring business for two generations, but there wasn’t anything comparable here, though we haven’t eaten at Wertheim’s in the Mainstrasse district of Covington.

Dexter Finds Frankfurt on the Map
      Whenever I’ve brought up the fact of the paucity of attention on German food, people always say it’s heavy or they don’t like it, etc, etc., yet they think nothing of grilling

Monday, July 9, 2012

"Your Sister’s Sister": Imagine Ingmar Bergman Hooking Up with "Friends"

     Lynn Shelton’s first movie Hump Day was small, elegantly structured, but with a raunchy edge.  The plot revolved around two best straight guy friends – one married, the other single – who decided to enter Seattle’s underground newspaper The Stranger’s annual amateur porn contest by filming themselves having sex.  The third major character is the married guy’s wife and her reaction to the whole plan is the linchpin for the delicate sensibility that Shelton expresses.

Dexter Enjoys the Northwest Landscape
     Your Sister’s Sister is the second excellent movie I’ve seen this year in a cinema (the other one was The Kid with the Bike).  Visually, this is beautiful because of the Washington state exteriors and the island cabin that serves as the main setting.  Its palette focuses on earth tones and I kept

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Two Anxiously Influenced Novelists

     Harold Bloom has spent the thrust of his career in literary criticism detailing earlier generations of writers influencing later ones and the anxiety this produces in those newer writers.  After consciously understanding their forebears, these younger writers then need to forge their own identities

Friday, July 6, 2012

Hello World!

Dexter Enjoys the Topiary Outside U.S. Bank Arena
      362 choirs from 64 countries and cultures descended on Cincinnati this week for the 2012 World Choir Games.  In true olympic style, the games opened on July 4th with ceremonies

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Blublu: A Reason to Visit Mt. Healthy

Dexter on the Outdoor Terrace
     Neil wanted to check out blublu because there aren’t a lot of Greek restaurants in the region.  It’s a storefront on Hamilton Avenue with an old walk up window looking out on what is now a pleasantly decorated exterior terrace.  It’s a simple, clean space painted in white and a pale, sea blue

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Where to Eat During the World Choir Games

      The world may be coming to CIncinnati during the World Choir Games, but our city has something else to sing about… an abundance of international culinary fare from local chefs.  (That's one of the reasons we started blogging.)  With a city so

Monday, July 2, 2012

Hysteria: A Dark Hoot

     Victorian women enjoying ‘paroxysms’ to relieve the patriarchy of their ‘hysteria’ has become popular lately with Sarah Ruhl’s play In The Next Room (or The Vibrator Play) and the recent movie Hysteria, which is finishing up its run at The Esquire.  The humor derives from middle-class and upper class characters unable to speak openly about female sexual