Saturday, August 31, 2013

New Orleans To Go

It keeps on truckin', even with a sit-down space

Placing Orders at New Orleans To Go
      Eight years ago this week Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans and the gulf coast, forever changing the lives of millions.  LaToya Foster was one of those who left her beloved city to settle in Cincinnati.  WIth a passion for creole cuisine, she met her husband, Randy Filson, and together they started

Friday, August 30, 2013

The Candidate: Redford’s Finest?

A cool, laid-back political comedy that turns dark and cold

     Friends have asked, ”Have you seen any good movies this summer?”  Neil and I have had to really think because we can take or leave superhero movies and there haven’t been a lot of compelling indies and we missed Fruitvale Station – our fault since it was at The Esquire for three weeks.

It seems strange to say that “Yes, I’ve seen a really good movie that’s about American politics and it’s as compelling as it probably was when it was released in 1972.”  That would be

Wednesday, August 28, 2013


Cute dogs, pithy political statements, 
each side given its due in a darling book
by Chuck Sambuchino

Chuck Sambuchino at Books on the Banks
     I attended Chuck Sambuchino’s lecture at Books on the Banks last year and he shared smart, sensible advice in a witty manner that could have gone on for another hour at least.  So, to try and say thank you, I bought RED DOG * BLUE DOG:  When Pooches Get Political.  For some stupid reason, I

Monday, August 26, 2013

Cyndi Lauper’s Kinky Boots

Turning to the commercial theatre, 
Lauper scores a triumph

Dexter Joins the Kinky Boots Cast
     Kinky Boots won six Tony awards in June including Best Musical and Best Score in a headlong battle with the British musical Matilda.  It’s tough to find out much about a show from the Tony broadcast.  Though it’s usually the most entertaining

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Kanpai Japanese Steakhouse

It comes to the party smartly dressed and well-equipped

The Kanpai Sleek Dining Room
      Finding a lunch spot that has fresh cuisine with fast, sit-down service can be a challenge.  There are a few in Blue Ash…Through the Garden and Foster's come to mind, and now a Japanese steakhouse.  They're not usually on my short list, but Kanpai elevates the competition by offering a menu

Friday, August 23, 2013

Ellen Forney’s Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, & Me – a graphic memoir

A graphic memoir that pops the romance of crazy artists

     Marbles stunned me when I was reading it because, by being a graphic memoir instead of a literary autobiography, Ellen Forney pulls the reader into the vortex of bipolar mood disorder with an immediacy that is simultaneously funny and unsettling.  She begins by

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Katalina's Cafe Corner

A little Victorian Village corner in Columbus with lively, local color and great edible fare

Dexter Checks Out the Chalk Board
      The perfect formula for a coffee house, in my opinion, starts with a personality to emphasize its individuality and service that supports that quality.  Of course, the coffee must be great (something that's overlooked often times in the effort to

Monday, August 19, 2013

Blue Jasmine

A Streetcar Named Desire 
for the Economic Downturn

     Last year, I wondered whether Woody Allen should retire after the mediocre To Rome With Love.  I retract that assertion after seeing Blue Jasmine, his best drama (with a couple of nervous laughs) since Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989).  The basic set-up is an older, desperate sister forcing herself on the ambivalent hospitality of a younger, more outwardly normal sister.  Yes, it’s Streetcar and Woody himself parodied that iconic character in Sleeper (1973).  When Neil and I saw a production at Know Theatre many years ago, I said, “I hadn’t realized that Blanche was totally nuts at the beginning until this.”   

The Glamorous Life Back in New York
     Blanche DuBois has been romanticized in the academy because of her lyrical manner of speaking and elegant storytelling.  Allen smartly avoids this fallacy by cutting between Jasmine’s (Cate Blanchett) current hanging on in San Francisco and her glamorous past in New York City, married to a crooked mogul (Alec Baldwin).  Instead of talking

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Natalie Maines: Mother

A great singer whose first solo album disappoints

The Dixie Chicks in 2003
     Natalie Maines possesses a big, clear, keening voice that is inimitable.  She was the front woman for The Dixie Chicks, the last superstar female-centric band.  They began as a country group and immediately crossed over to enormous mainstream pop success after other female artists like Trisha Yearwood, Shania Twain, Faith Hill, and LeAnn Rimes had led the way.  Unless you lived under a rock in 2003, you know

Friday, August 16, 2013

The Palace at The Cincinnatian

Excellent food, mature service, 
charming surroundings combine 
for a purr-fect experience

Dexter Takes a Special Seat at The Palace
     During last week’s restaurant week, Neil thought we should try one of the mostly downtown establishments.  Some offered $35 menus/couple while others offered $35 menus/diner.  We thought, what the heck, we’re not going on vacation anywhere soon so let’s look at the high fliers.  The menu at The Palace featured choices from the actual menu, but there weren’t any

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Dream of Perpetual Motion

A world of wonders brought together 
by Dexter Palmer’s quietly astonishing style

Dexter Palmer Meets Dexter Palmer
     While browsing at Carmichael’s Bookstore in Louisville, which is a worthwhile reason to go to Louisville, I found The Dream of Perpetual Motion by Dexter Palmer.  Dexter Palmer?!  Dexter’s written a book?  The jacket made it sound pretty good, though “An extravagantly wondrous and admirable first novel” from The Washington Post could describe about half the first novels published.  I hadn’t run

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Pistol Annies: Annie Up

Smart, funny, independent, and sexy, 
the soul of American country pop lives on

Dexter Cozies Up to Lambert, Presley, and Monroe
Miranda Lambert
     I respect Miranda Lambert’s solo career and admire her gutsy songwriting talent, but her singing voice is an acquired taste.  Her timbre and range are probably closer to Hank Williams than any male singer who’s been influenced by him.  And, I realize this will make me sound like an American pop heathen, but I

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Main Bite

A charmer that could become 
a mainstay after some tweaking

The Inviting Front Porch at Main Bite
      Main Bite has almost everything it takes to soar as an eating establishment in the MainStrasse area of Covington.  One half of a wood-framed home supplies the welcoming restaurant space with a front porch and outdoor garden area

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Joan Rivers: Our Little Secret

Whether you like her or not, Joan Rivers nails the laughs

Joan Rivers
     The other night, we were watching one of our TV guilty pleasures:  Fashion Police on E!  We don’t watch it weekly, but we’ll turn it on while channel surfing and usually stay with it until the end.  It repeats a number of times weekly so it’s not too difficult to find.  Joan Rivers is the host and den mother with panelists Kelly Osbourne, who has an almost

Sunday, August 4, 2013

LumenoCity: A Fabulous Welcome

Music Hall Facade During LumenoCity
Louis Langrée
     To welcome Maestro Louis Langrée as the new conductor for the Cincinnati Symphony, the city planned a party to host the entire community.  Borrowing from visual effects that have been previously used at such celebrations as the Queen's 60th Jubilee in 2012, the show was taken to new heights at a 40-minute length and a live symphony accompaniment. We were situated on the perimeter of Washington Park so we didn't have the best vantage point, but

Saturday, August 3, 2013

The Swerve: How the World Became Modern by Stephen Greenblatt

Subatomic theory was first published 
in the first century BC, believe it or not

The Geographer by Vermeer
     Can a book change the western world’s course?  Many might say The Torah, The Bible, and The Qur’an did so.  Stephen Greenblatt won a lot of awards for The Swerve, which posits that the rediscovery, copying, and redistribution of On the Nature of Things by the Roman poet Lucretius.  It won a lot of awards in 2012, which was part of the reason I bought it. Yes, I know that reason is the definition of middlebrow thinking and I’m fine with owning that.  What also intrigued me was the relationship

Thursday, August 1, 2013

The IKEA Catalog…Dream On

The New IKEA Catalog with a Pop-Up Urban Garden
      As I sat in the garden looking through the new IKEA catalog, I realized I was having that same feeling I used to get in late September when I was a kid and the Sears WishBook would arrive or we would pick up a copy of Penney's or Montgomery Ward catalogs at their stores.  I would drool over each page…not so much the clothing, but the toys and holiday