Monday, August 31, 2015

72 hours in Nashville: Days One and Two

Bubbling with personality 
and background music everywhere


      We've made a few trips to Nashville, finding it a vibrant city with a variety of entertainment opportunities.  On our latest venture, six of us headed out on a Friday morning in a VW van.  Dining is an important part of our entertainment, so our first stop was at a favorite for lunch, Chefs Market & Catering in Goodletsville just north of the city.  It's a cafeteria with a fine dining slant and some very interesting side dishes.  Our "home" was the Residence Inn at Cool Springs about 20 minutes from downtown.  It's a convenient location if you're planning to visit some of the tourist areas south of the city, as we were.

Opryland Hotel
      Of course, any visit to Nashville is not authenticated unless you plan to see the Grand Ole Opry.  It's been at its current location adjacent to the Opryland Hotel since 1971.  We arrived early to take a look around the hotel.  It's a short walk from the Opry House and the parking is free on that side of the complex.  Otherwise, you're looking at a $25 per car parking fee just to see the hotel interior.  
Waterfalls in the Delta

That said, the charge is worth it when you consider the magnificent structures and landscaping.  A stroll through the Cascades and Garden Conservatory passes by numerous waterfalls and seasonal floral displays culminating in the Delta with more restaurants and shops.  
The Boat Ride

There's also a boat ride that everyone should take once, and that's all you'll need to do.  We've never stayed there, but I'm sure the experience is well worth it.  
Grand Ole Opry
The Opry House is an experience in itself.  Although there is always a line up of acts, one never knows who will show up for the live broadcast.  That surprise came from the appearance of Chris Jansen on our latest visit.  We think he has the makings to become a big star.  The audience also felt so because they gave him two standing ovations, something usually only reserved for iconic country stars.


Entering the
Johnny Cash Museum

      Our first stop was at the Johnny Cash Museum located in an old downtown warehouse.  It has won several top awards for museum design and content so I was really looking forward to seeing what all the hoopla was about.  My first impression was that the space was way too small, creating a bottleneck in the first viewing room.  Granted, there is a lot of memorabilia pertaining to the early Cash years that later expands when entering subsequent rooms exhibiting lavish costumes, records, and family values.  
Wall of Recordings
I particularly liked the long hall displaying his record covers and 45s.  It all culminates in the final room leading to Johnny 
Cash Family Timeline
Cash's accomplishments, one of which is that he is the only artist to have songs on the Billboard charts for six decades.  It's a museum befitting such an amazing entertainer.

All Day Entertainment Along Broadway
      Music Row (Broadway) has seen some changes in the past few years.  Walking up from the museum, there are several bars with live entertainment throughout the day.  We stopped in Ernest Tubb's Record Store only to find it desolate with very few CDs.  What happened?  Perhaps it was a sad sign of the times that have passed with iTunes and MP3 downloads.  

Bridgestone Arena
      Lori, Eric and I walked further past the Bridgestone Arena and on to the Country Music Hall of Fame and the flowing architectural lines of the Music City Center, host to the  
Music City Center
CMA Fest. A little backtracking to Broadway brought us to Jacks Bar-B-Que, an institution among visitors and locals that can be attested to by the line formed outside the entrance.  There was a large birthday celebration during our visit that was causing a backup in seating. Otherwise, the line moved fairly fast.

Ryman Auditorium
      Taking a right coming out of Jack's took us to Tootsies, another familiar spot for enjoying new acts and veteran performers that will sometimes come out the backdoor from the Ryman and play a few rounds before calling it a night.  Like so many places, one just never knows who they will run into.  Take a stroll around the corner to have a look at Ryman Auditorium, the original home the the Grand Ole Opry.

      Leaving Broadway, we took a little driving tour of downtown passing AT&T's "Batman" building and the Tennessee Capital sitting atop the city skyline.  Driving further west on Broadway, we took a short trek through Vanderbilt University and then Centennial Park, which is the home to the Parthenon, a reproduction of the original in Athens.  From there we drove through Belle Meade, one of Nashville's grander neighborhoods with many older mansions.  If you have the time, Cheekwood is a wonderful place to visit.  It's the former home of the founders of Maxwell House coffee, which is now an art museum and botanical gardens.  Both are exquisite.  
Bluebird Cafe
Onward, we made our way to the Bluebird Cafe made famous in the Nashville series.  It was closed for a private party, but none-the-less a popular selfie and photo spot.

     After a refresher at our hotel, we moved on to dinner at Marché in East Nashville.  It's a local hangout that serves some of the best (and inexpensive) European cuisine you'll find anywhere.  

    Our night was capped off at the Loser's Lounge in Cool Springs that would be our music fix for the evening.  Forty-five minutes after the published time for the music to begin, we were still waiting for the band to "check, check".  Finally, the lead female singer (trying to channel Stevie Nicks or Kim Carnes) took the stage.  We stomached three songs and called it a night.  For us, the place couldn't have been more appropriately named.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

"The Waterfall" by My Morning Jacket Disappoints

My Morning Jacket
     My Morning Jacket, a Louisville band with a deserved national reputation, has become a major independent neo-psychedelic rock band.  If they’d formed in 1992 instead of 1998, they would probably have become mainstream stars.  Instead, they’ve charted a more intriguing course by not selling out.  They’re almost legendary as a live band because they’ll play one of their entire albums and then cover five or more songs by various other artists that wouldn’t seem to fit them at all.  We haven’t seen them live, but know them from Evil Urges (2008) and Circuital (2011).  These are two great albums that are almost symphonic in their ambitions to collect songs into a greater whole and to refer to a range of ‘60s through millennial styles.  

Lead Singer and
Songwriter Jim James
     Their latest album The Waterfall fuses ‘70s progressive rock with ‘70s southern rock (Deep Purple meets Lynyrd Skynyrd) and refashions it with their mumblecore sensibility.  What I mean is that they’re low-key, type B personalities who put the music first and chat, but don’t really speak.  Lead singer and songwriter Jim James feels like Mark Duplass’s character in Your Sister’s Sister (2011) if he were a musician.  On Palladia’s Storytellers series, James talked interminably with a sweet sincerity that was both refreshing and excruciating.  

     The Waterfall acts as a stop gap between more major works and may not be the best jumping off point for new listeners.  It takes forever to take off with its fourth track “Waterfalls.”  As a band, they’re generous to a fault and want to play all night long in the tradition of The Grateful Dead or Phish.  Good for them!  Unfortunately, jammin’ along on an album can become too much of a good thing, especially if it’s a cut that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere.  Things get really interesting around the eighth and ninth cuts (“Big Decisions,” “Tropics (Erase Traces)”) that utilize some musical phrasing from Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here (1975), thereby uniting English and American baroque arena rock of the ‘70s before bogging down again with “Only Memories Remain.”  Those memories are from the first three tracks, which I didn’t want to remember.  They sing an abbreviated version at the end, thereby informing the listener how tough it is to get over a break-up.  Yup, it’s sad all right.  I can’t wait for their next album.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Aladdin's Eatery Put Us on a Magic Carpet Ride

Aladdin's Hummus
     Dee had been wanting us to join her at Aladdin's Eatery in Hyde Park.  Her granddaughter, Quinn, was a server there and Dee thought we would enjoy meeting her and exploring the food, which she had found to be quite good.  I'm beginning to enjoy Mediterranean cuisine, but I'm still not sure of some terms so therefore I like some guidance from whoever wishes to offer it to me.

The Nicely Appointed Dining Room
     Somewhere through the years, Fady and Sally Chamoun (Aladdin's founders) must have dined at a Cheesecake Factory and found inspiration from their menus and desserts.  That said, you'll find similarities in their menu design (spiral bound, multiple pages, coloration) and the numerous cheesecakes and layer cakes supplied by their own bakery in Lakewood, OH—Jasmine's (isn't that cute!).  As for the interior, it could be a pared down bistro version of the ornate aforementioned establishment.  Even with all of the similarities, Aladdin's still has its own personality.

Aladdin's Lamb Rolled Pita
     There's plenty of decisions to be made from the extensive Lebanese/American offerings.  Our server recommended something from each category.  I'm always impressed when servers are trained to offer up something more than "everything is good here".  We started by sharing the hummus and pita appetizer.  Their version takes 3 days to make and is seriously puréed.  Think of it as melting ice cream.  Obviously, 3 days makes a difference.  Eric and I decided to share Aladdin's Lamb Rolled Pita, which is a lightly toasted pita wrap…this one filled with seasoned grilled lamb with tomatoes, turnips, onions, greens and Tahini dressing.  There were two house made sauces served with the meals.  I found the garlic one the most appealing, but the hot sauce was nice also without being too spicy.  We also shared the Cranberry Walnut Salad that 
Cranberry and Walnut Salad
was an updated version with quinoa and Lebanese Salata (marinated chopped tomatoes, cucumber, green pepper, onions, parsley and scallions).  Aladdin's dressing was a surprise with its lemony tang. 

Mediterranean Beef Kafta Plate
Dee chose the Mediterranean Beef Kafta Plate brimming with chunks of herb and spice coated beef, seasoned brown rice with vermicelli, cinnamon, roasted pine nuts and almonds.  She enjoyed it as she had on previous visits.

Lemoncello Cake
     Eric and I had sniffed out the desserts from the very beginning knowing that we had to have some. Dee decided to take the last piece of Coconut Layer Cake, which was a wise choice with its toasted coconut filling as well as one of plain coconut.  The icing tasted like a mixture of whipped cream and traditional icing.  Our shared Lemoncello Cake had multiple layers of what I would term as an icebox cake.  The creams, white chocolate shavings, white cake and lemon filling were all superb and refreshing.  Although it wasn't available that evening, Eric is still on a mission to sample their Pistachio Cake.  I can't wait either!

Click to add a blog post for Aladdin's Eatery on Zomato 

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Chef's Market: An Upscale Cafeteria Highlighted with Creative Side Dishes

Country Chic Chef's Market
     We first stopped by Chef's Market on a trip through Nashville in 2014.  Located on the north side at the Goodletsville exit, there is little curb appeal to lure one in. Once inside, the surroundings are country chic with some of 
the dining areas set amidst a country store.  It's one of those places where there's something for everyone and every taste.  If you're thinking it sounds like another Cracker Barrel…it's not.

My New England Pot Roast Plate
     The desserts were what I remembered most from our previous visit, especially the White Chocolate Banana Pudding.  It was a great take on an old-timer.  My memory then moved to the New England Pot Roast, tender and juicy beef roast with carrots and celery in a demi-glace.  Fortunately, they were both available on our second excursion recently.  I chose an Avocado and Corn Salad along with Creamed Spinach to round out my meal.  Their dinner rolls could double as a dessert, but the banana pudding was my prize.  

Little Hen Trio
Side Dish Selections
     Another hit that day was the Cranberry Quinoa Slaw.  I'm not much of a quinoa fan, but this hit the spot with its sweet and tart mix and was another example of their creative pairings.  Eric chose the Little Hen Trio and wondered afterwards why he had done so.  There was nothing wrong with the three mini croissants filled with three different versions of chicken salad: old fashioned, curried, and smoked Mexican. In fact, they were quite nice, but in comparison with some of the other options it was a bit on the pricey side.

Click to add a blog post for Chef's Market, Cafe & Take Away on Zomato 

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Lydia Loveless: If You Give a Damn About Rock and Female Singers, Check Her Out

     I started playing Lydia Loveless’s second album Somewhere Else (2014) and I was thrilled by the time she sang the third note.  Dang, I thought, a real rock singer!  I’d read about her earlier this year in City Beat because she was playing a concert here, but we weren’t going so I forgot about it until I was in Everybody’s Records looking for something else.  I saw her name and was arrested by the album cover, which doesn’t reproduce well, because it was elegant black 
lettering on a dark, moody profile photograph of her.  The inside sleeve displays the polar opposite:  straight on head shot of her in a white lace dress, everything white on white except for her open yet guarded dark eyes.

Lydia Loveless
     Loveless has been described as a country, country rock, and country punk singer.  Except for the steel guitar used on a couple of tracks and the slight twang in her voice, she doesn’t come across as country, but rather as a straight ahead rocker leading a slamming guitar band that salutes the late ‘70s.  As Spin magazine wrote, ‘Is Stevie Nicks singing lead on “Born to Run” overstating it?  Probably, but too bad.’  Actually, she has a bigger, clearer voice than Nicks.  It comes out of her diaphragm and chest, not her throat and nose.  There’s a yowl as well as tremolo and vibrato that made me feel she might lose control and end up yodeling or hog calling.  Of course, Springsteen sometimes gave off the same vibe, especially in his twenties and this album recalls his reckless, keening Darkness on the Edge of Town (1978).  That tightrope walking sound also reminded me of both Springsteen’s duet partner Patti Smith and Bette Midler and it’s easy to forget that she was (and probably still is) both a powerful and poignant rocker when she chose that type of material in “Beast of Burden” and “Shiver Me Timbers.”  

     The seventh track “Verlaine Shot Rimbaud” in which she sings ‘I wanna love you like a father loves a son’ feels like a tribute to Smith’s imagery as well as the Biblical prodigal son parable, but simultaneously explores her desperation in ‘I wanna be the only one you love / so take me home.’  As Jon Stewart pointed out about Springsteen during the Kennedy Center Honors, it was the sense of yearning in his songs that compelled him (and a generation) to listen.  That’s Lydia’s jumping-off point in the first two tracks, “Really Wanna See You,” and “Wine Lips.”  

     Loveless reveals her hand in the last three cuts.  “Somewhere Else” has a bass line and backing vocals that could have been used in Fleetwood Mac’s Rumors (1977) and she sings nasally, thereby directly honoring Nicks.   However, the jangling lead guitar departs from the Lindsey Buckingham model.  The epic “Everything’s Gone” describes a generation realizing there’s nothing for them except ‘to burn a rich man’s house down.’  It sounds the most traditionally country and seems to be about both the Depression era generation (and the dawn of American roots music as a commercial genre renamed Country & Western) and the Millennials waking up to the sparseness that avails them.  Her only cover “They Don’t Know,” by Kirsty MacColl, but a hit for Tracey Ullman in 1984, settles on a more bittersweet note; these could be lovers on the lam.  

    Lydia Loveless from Coshocton by way of Columbus is twenty-four and she’s established her artistic voice.  She clearly answers the oft-asked American Idol query, ‘what kind of artist are you?’  A female singer has a tough time making it big in any genre except pop in the current music world.  I believe that’s the reason Taylor Swift crossed over.  Country is primarily a Caucasian man’s game and Hip Hop is primarily an African-American man’s game.  Alternative rock was pretty much killed off by boy bands and bubble girls in the late ‘90s and iTunes exists for the single.  How refreshing and retro that a female artist writes and sings rock music and places it in an intentional album format.  Here’s hoping more than a few of us are taking note.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Presto Variations by Lee Lamothe

Sometimes it’s okay to say ‘no’

     I bought Lee Lamothe’s Presto Variations (2013) in a charming independent bookstore I’ve gone into a few times over the years in Niagara-on-the-Lake.  It had a really neat cover of overlapping keyboards.  I read the back cover and realized it was a police procedural thriller that seemed to be about money laundering.  I did not focus on the reason for the laundering, which was drug money.  Okay, we all have a blind spot about something and mine is pretty much anything to do with drugs.  Yes, they’re out there and yes I’ve been very close to people who did them and that’s how I know how they can destroy people and I don’t want to see that in ‘entertainment.’

     Lamothe lives in Toronto, which was another selling point for me, but I couldn’t tell exactly where the story was taking place (Toronto, Detroit, Buffalo) as the set-up was on the border, but seemed to start on the U.S, rather than the Canadian, side.  Lamothe demonstrates a jazzy style that owes something to Elmore Leonard with less juice.  It’s certainly not the frenetically baroque voice of James Ellroy either.  Here’s a bit from a conversation between the main launderer and his psychotic second in command, who plans to muscle him out somehow:

      Markowitz hung his head, hangdog.  “I took the shot, that’s all a guy can do, right?  Take his shot.”  He made a guilty smile and started laughing.  “Okay, okay, I’m an asshole.”

      Jerry Kelly didn’t mind kicking a sick cat.  He piled it on.  “Plus, we just lost another eighty.  That guy Petey that said he had a pipeline to get the dough out?  Do a test run with eighty grand?  He just fucked right off.”   Jerry Kelly’s blank blue eyes studied Markowitz gnawing at his lip.  “ I’ll fix that.”

     I read on for another sixty pages where the two lead cops Ray Tate and Djuana Brown were trying to get back to their dream of retiring to Paris and various dangerous lowlifes were setting up their schemes.  One complete innocent trying to do something decent for the world got beaten up and it turned me off.  The prospect of another three hundred pages really didn’t do it for me.  So I skipped to the end and found out that a lot of the lowlifes were killed off and the major asshole was offed in a nasty manner and I thought, “Enh.”  

    It’s like ordering something in a restaurant and then just not liking it, but also not being able to send it back because it was what it was.  I just couldn’t take it this time.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Nellie McKay's "My Weekly Reader" Delights

Pop Singer Nellie McKay
     Nellie McKay is a wonderful, complicated idiosyncrasy:  a pop singer who isn’t a fawned over superstar, a multi-instrumentalist in an era when singers can barely play “Chopsticks,” and a historian of popular music who puts the song before her ‘interpretation’ of it.  In short, she’s extraordinarily talented and unique.  Geoff Emerick, who engineered a number of The Beatles’ albums, has been a key collaborator as her producer from her debut Get Away from Me (2004).  She can also sing in any genre:  Pop, Rock, Hip-Hop, Country, Jazz, Great American Songbook.  She feels like the granddaughter heir apparent to Dinah Washington and Rosemary Clooney.

     Whether singing her own compositions or covering other composers (her 2009 album Normal As Blueberry Pie – A Tribute to Doris Day), she is neither cynical nor self-serving.  Her songs, however, generally touch upon contemporary and/or continuing social issues, which used to be a primary root of American popular song.  Unfortunately, the music corporations place little value in that so McKay moved from Columbia to Verve – a better fit for her in the long run.  She wanted to rediscover an era that was artistically and politically sincere for her latest album so she turned to the Vietnam War, concentrating on songs from 1965 – 1973.  Though she hasn’t written the songs on her latest, she plays about eighteen different instruments on it.  

     From the title My Weekly Reader, recalling the urban underground press’ heyday, to the production that initially sounds like the move from mono to stereo, this sounds like the late ‘60s.  However, she presents further nuance especially in Moby Grape’s “Murder In My Heart For the Judge,” which speaks to urban unrest in the aftermath of the Trayvon Martin killing and the Ferguson, MO riots and Crosby, Stills, and Kantner’s “Wooden Ships,” a haunting, wistful note on which to end the album.  She sounds like she could be Mary Hopkin’s younger sister on Steve Miller’s “Quicksilver Girl” or Small Faces’ “Itchycoo Park,” and even channels the profound sadness of Sandy Denny on Ray Davies’ “Sunny Afternoon.”  It’s a treat to hear Paul Simon’s “Red Rubber Ball,” and Frank Zappa’s “Hungry Freaks, Daddy.”  I didn’t love Richard Fariña’s  “Bold Marauder,” mainly because it seemed musically monotonous and her straight ahead version of”Don’t Let The Sun Catch You Crying” is respectful, but it doesn’t reveal her in the way of Rickie Lee Jones’s 1989 version.

Nellie McKay appears at the 20th Century Theatre in Oakley on September 17, 2015.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Au Revoir to local legend Annabel

     Annabel’s has probably earned more great reviews than any restaurant in this region.  It was a Mt. Lookout fixture for over a decade.  It was open four days a week for breakfast and lunch, never took reservations, and never served 
We'll Never Have That
Lemon Meringue Tart Again!
anything less than an excellent dish.  We salute the retiring chef/owner Annabel Stolley, her daughter and wonderful waitress Emily, and their entire staff!  Thanks for the memories – we’ll miss you.

For our original review of Annabel's:

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Sleepy Bee Cafe

I'm kicking myself that we waited so long

Oakley's Sleepy Bee

     I admit it.  The whole reason we had not been to Sleepy Bee Cafe was because several of the early reviews reported deplorable service.  A sub reason was the long wait lines, which I wrongly attributed to the poor service.  The one beacon was the food.  Everyone seemed to love it.

The Main Dining Room
     April suggested we go there for lunch last week and I decided it was time to encounter it for myself.  Let me sum it up be saying my previous misgiving about service was dispelled.  In fact, our server was one of the best I have ever encountered in Cincinnati.  We went with her suggestions of ordering from both the breakfast and lunch menu selections and they were spot on.  

The Avi Omelet and Hive Fries
     From the breakfast side came The Avi Omelet, a mix of avocado, spinach, mushrooms, tomato, onion and white cheddar.  Everything served is locally sourced from the Tri-State area.  We hear that a lot these days, but in this case the proof was in the taste.  Alongside was the oven roasted Hive Fries that were crispy with a soft center.   We opted to
Piggy Cake
substitute the multi-grain toast that came with the omelet for a Piggy Cake filled with bacon and topped with whipped cream and candied pecans.  That would serve as our dessert and a special one it was!  

The Bee Keeper and Roasted Root Vegetables
     On the lunch menu was The Bee Keeper Sandwich combining house roasted Amish turkey, bacon, more avocado, muenster cheese, sprouts and a nectar sauce tying all the trimmings together.  It was a hit for both of us.  This time we chose the Roasted Root Vegetables (carrots, purple and sweet potatoes) as our side.  I preferred the hive fries, but our server was really into the vegetables.  It is definitely a personal choice.   Beverages were continuously filled with to go cups offered.

Outdoor Patio Dining
      We were seated on the patio, which was a nicely secluded outdoor spot.  That came about 25 minutes after arriving at 11:30 on a Friday and as predicted by the hostess.  (Eric and I tried to get in on a Sunday at 12:30 and it was an hour and 15 minute wait time.)  A new Sleepy Bee will be opening in Blue Ash late summer 2015.  They're hoping that will alleviate some of the long wait times.  At this point, that seems to be the only downfall.

Click to add a blog post for Sleepy Bee Cafe on Zomato

Friday, August 14, 2015

Another Period / Kevin (from work)

Two off-the-beaten path comedies 
show the sitcom is alive and well

     Comedy Central has aimed at the crosshairs of the cultural zeitgeist over the past decade with Chappelle’s Show, The Daily Show (or, as we thought of it, Jon Stewart four nights a week), The Colbert Report, and South Park (creative, yes, but I can’t watch it for more than ten minutes because the animation is metaphysically awful i.e. it’s ugly and is supposed to be).  But, right now, Comedy Central is hitting the bull’s eye with Tosh.O,  which deals with a male’s curiosity and panic about homosexuality while checking out computer videos to an extent that seems endless, especially since it’s repeated interminably, Key & Peele (finally up for Emmy awards), Inside Amy Schumer and new this season Another Period.

Key and Peele
     That’s a pretty heady line up.  No other show right now says more about America’s preoccupation with race, politics, history, and the male psyche (straight and gay) than Key & Peele, though Jordan Peele does some of the best drag work on TV since Flip Wilson or Lily Tomlin.  Inside Amy Schumer works in a narrower vein for women and sexuality, though she goes very deep and usually gets raunchier the further she goes.  Another Period skewers the higher brow soap Downton Abbey and the lower brow reality soap Keeping Up with the Kardashians.   Both series have entered the popular consciousness in a way where people who have barely or never watched know more about the characters than they may initially admit.

Creators Natasha Leggero and Riki Lindhorne
     Another Period (Tuesdays at 10:30 p.m.), created by Natasha Leggero and Riki Lindhome, both of whom are probably familiar from their guest star roles on various shows, presents the decadently rich Bellacourt family and their servants in 1905 Newport, R.I.  A large, gifted ensemble work the darkest aspects of the vast gap between the wealthy and the poor – one in which the perpetual servants are not even seen as human by their masters.  The latest episode saw hissy fit thrower Lillian (Leggero) trying to buddy up to her brother’s fiancée by hosting a seventeen-course gourmet dinner for their dogs.  When the dogs refused to eat the food, it had to be thrown out immediately.  One of the servants sneaked a bite, though he knew he could lose his job, because he was curious what ‘food’ tasted like since the servants got by on gruel.  Like much of Monty Python’s classic work, there isn’t a drop of human kindness or compassion in the Bellacourt’s world.  If two characters – whether related, married, or working alongside each other – seem to get along, it’s only for a moment and it’s an anomaly.  

Jason Ritter
     It’s touched upon various hot topics including incest (Lindhome plays the drama queen idiot savant in love with her dullard Senator brother Frederick played straight by the darling Jason Ritter), homosexuality (easier for the family to address wrongly about Frederick than the incest, while overlooking the sisters’ actual homosexual husbands), abortion, women’s liberation, prostitution, capitalist exploitation, the sociopathic arrogance of the entitled and the self-abnegating response of their slaves – I mean, servants.  Whenever I watch a period movie or show, I always wonder about kitchens and bathrooms since these have evolved over time.  While Downton Abbey (and Upstairs, Downstairs before it in 1971 – 1975) have presented culinary detail like a fetish, Another Period showed servants having to transport feces buckets after a genteel afternoon event hosted by the Bellacourts and somehow played even that for laughs.  

Noah Reid and Paige Spara
     If Another Period doesn’t sound like your proverbial cup of tea, then ABC Family offers Kevin from Work on Wednesdays at 8 p.m.  Like other shows on ABC Family, the cast is very diverse in terms of ethnicity, body type, and age, though the lighting makes everything look like the most beautiful ice cream shop or gelateria imaginable. Like other shows on ABC, it moves lightning fast and it’s easy to miss a sight gag or the significance of a line of dialogue that might reverberate later.  Scrubs (2001 – 2010) was the game changer that transformed American slapstick into this high tech, quick cut format and it reached its zenith in the brilliant, frenetic Happy Endings (2011 – 2013).  Kevin has used some clever and beautiful graphics to show what’s happening on the characters’ computers in this work place cubicle comedy.

Reid and Sedaris
     The initial hook is that Kevin (Noah Reid) leaves his job for a dream one in Italy and he writes a drunken letter telling his cubicle neighbor Audrey (Paige Spara) that he loves her.  Italy falls through and he has to beg his crazy boss played to the hilt by the wild Amy Sedaris (remember when Stephen Colbert was her co-star on their collaboration Strangers with Candy?) before facing Audrey.  A variety of interesting characters have been introduced and ABC Family smartly ran the first two episodes back to back, allowing viewers to get a firmer grasp of where the show may go.