Cover Story: Stand Outs

The best of the best to see and do this fall

Sep 13, 2006 at 2:06 pm
Elder High School

Elder High School football

Cool Matchups: Ohio Vs. USA Football Challenge
It's as old as sport itself: Two guys, usually sitting at a bar, hypothesizing about who would win if two teams that never had a chance to play finally met. After a string of state championships and some flat-out dominant high school football teams from this region in the past several years, more than a few people started wondering what our best would do against the best in the country. One of those people was Kirk Herbstreit, ESPN analyst and former Ohio State star. Unlike those dopes in the bar, he did something — and the result is the second annual Kirk Herbstreit Ohio vs. USA Challenge. Nine Ohio teams (including St. Xavier, Moeller, Colerain and Elder, pictured above) will play elite powerhouse programs from around the country (including national top 10 schools Byrnes, S.C., and De La Salle, Calif.) at two sites; UC's Nippert Stadium will be the local site this Friday and Saturday. Matchups, game times and ticket information: (RODGER PILLE)

Cool Musical Feast: MidPoint
Cincinnati turns into the unsigned band capitol of the world again when the MidPoint Music Festival returns to the clubs in and around the Main Street Entertainment District Sept. 20-23. Now in its fifth year, MidPoint attracts hundred of musicians and music fans from around the country and beyond; besides the nightly music showcases, artists learn some of the tricks of the trade at the daytime panels and workshops. The festival was faced with a challenge this year, as several of the usual club sites have closed since the last MPMF (including Jefferson Hall, alchemize, RBC's and Jekyll and Hyde's), meaning organizers have had to scope out new, non-traditional spaces for performances or "renew" some of the closed venues. It's been pricey ("renewed" venues have increased costs due to lights and sound rentals), but MidPoint appears to be on track for another successful run.

Check The Macabre Museum Tour has a 19th century curator coming back to resume his fiendish experiments. There's also AfterShock, the real story of how Museum Center's 19th century predecessor, the Western Museum, drew crowds with "curiosities," oddities and freaks of nature. (P.F. WILSON)

Cool As Ice: Return of the Cyclones
The potential return of AHL hockey to the Cincinnati Gardens for 2006 stirred up some interest among fans last winter. Then in the spring, the ECHL quietly announced its return to US Bank Arena as the Cyclones once again rose from the ashes to schedule a 16th season. The AHL RailRiders, meanwhile, postponed operations until at least next year. A lot of folks enjoy the nostalgic feel of The Gardens and the memories it holds of great minor league hockey teams past like the Mohawks, Wings and Swords. Remember, though, that US Bank Arena was originally built for the city's only major league hockey team, the Stingers, and is still a fine building in which to watch a game. You can do that starting Oct. 20 when the Cyclones open their season against the Pensacola Ice Pilots. The regular season runs through April 6, 2007. (P.F. WILSON)

Reel Cool: Independent Film Nights at the Library
Erlanger isn't exactly known for its indie anything. Which might be why Venus Fasce, adult services librarian and programmer for the Erlanger Branch of the Kenton County Public Library (pictured), started the library's Independent Film Nights earlier this year. But more likely it's because, she says, "Unfortunately, most of the (independent) films aren't at big theaters, and the runs sometimes at the Esquire and Mariemont might be one week." Held on the second Friday of each month at 6:30 p.m., the event features recent DVD releases like Everything Is Illuminated, Thumbsucker and Chumscrubber (upcoming titles include The War Within and A Prairie Home Companion). Why is such an event important to the community? "Folks are watching a film that they probably aren't exposed to," Fasce says. "And people get together and discuss not only the films but the ideas in the films. We're learning something while we're being entertained." For free, too. (JESSICA CANTERBURY)

Cool Anniversary: CEAs
The Cincinnati Entertainment Awards program turns 10 years old this year, so look for this year's musical ceremony (the CEA trophies honoring local theater were doled out in August) to be the biggest CEA blowout yet. The 2006 event has been moved from its usual "Monday before Thanksgiving" date to Sunday, Nov. 19, and it will again take place at downtown's Taft Theater. Besides the usual top-notch performances by local music luminaries and a chance to people-watch your favorite local musicians, artists will be honored for their accomplishments over the past 360 days. Who will take home the Best Hip Hop or Jazz honors? Will Heartless Bastards repeat their virtual sweep last year? Which presenters/performers will be too drunk to perform? You gotta be there to find out. Watch for the nominees to be announced (and ballots to be issued) in the Sept. 27 issue of CityBeat. (MIKE BREEN)

Cool Restaurant: Aqua
Aqua, which recently opened in Mount Lookout Square, has the makings of becoming a bona fide hipster destination. Owner/General Manager Jason Druso (former GM of Carlo and Johnny, pictured on the right) and Executive Chef Stefan Kraus (who formerly cooked for Jeff Ruby, Scalea's Ristorante and The Maisonette) have created a chic environment that's as much about design and music as it is about the food. Paintings by Dzine, a cutting-edge artist who's exhibited at the Contemporary Arts Center, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago and the Palais de Tokyo in Paris, grace the walls. And you won't hear any Muzak here. The music changes every night and is selected on the fly to fit the patrons and the mood. (CRAIG BIDA)

Cool African Eats: Bi-Okoto Cooking Classes
Bi-Okoto African Drum and Dance Theatre is a professional African dance company with the goal of preserving traditional African drum and dance heritage and promoting cultural understanding. When not on the road performing, some of the artists take time to educate people about African culture through cooking. On the last Saturday of each month, the company offers hands-on cooking classes at their facility in East Walnut Hills at 3 p.m. (including instructor Jeaunita Olowe, pictured). Each class focuses on a particular African region, and instructors — as well as being singers or dancers with the company — are usually born into families that are from that region. After preparing the meal, participants sit down to enjoy the fruits of their efforts and conversation about the dishes and the region's culture. Be sure to pre-register a week in advance so there's enough jollos (rice) and dodos (fried plantains) to go around. 2511 Essex Place, 513-221-6112. (LORA ARDUSER)

Cool Comedy: Carlos Mencia
Carlos Mencia has developed quite a niche for himself, making fun of cultural stereotypes and exposing society's hypocrisies. So skillfull is he that Comedy Central gave him his own show, appropriately called Mind of Mencia, one of the channel's most popular programs. Talking to audiences about Hurricane Katrina he muses, "Black people, you're funny. You're hilarious. You'll get on a bus to go to the Million Man March, but you won't get on a bus to get away from Katrina." Of course the Hispanic comic can just as easily turn things around: "Did you see my people being interviewed after the storm? No. Because they sent one bus and we all got out." Adding a further twist, he states, "You white people love ethnic jokes. You just don't like laughing in public at them, when the ethnic people are watching you." Mencia performs at the Taft Theatre downtown Dec. 1. (P.F. WILSON)