Thursday, December 26, 2002

Knip's eye view

Santa finds no time for dinner

A little something here to warm the cockles of the heart - if you like stories about a starving Santa.

Last week, ad exec Rob Riggsbee dressed up as Santa, dressed his kids Bobby, 9, and Katie, 6, and two friends as elves, and distributed 150 gifts at Tender Mercies, an Over-the-Rhine shelter.

Then he had a hankering for Boathouse ribs, but he didn't have a change of clothes. So he called co-owner Dean Gregory and requested an isolated table so they wouldn't be conspicuous.

"Right. We got there at 6 and there was a huge line. It took 45 minutes to get past all the kids wanting a word with Santa. I sat on those cold steps the whole time."


Then got seated, but danged if the diners didn't think the kids were so cute they kept coming to the table. Finally, the kids went and visited every table.

When the food arrived, we're three hours into dinner now, Riggsbee was about to take off his fake beard so he could eat. His kids would have none of it - too many kids in there, they said.

"So I visited tables, took gift requests and posed for pictures. Between me and the kids, I know there were 500 pictures. I had my food boxed and left at 10:30.

"Next year I take clothes and change in the car."

Hit a note: Meanwhile, composer Joe Gorman and lyricist Lee Horvitz are moving right ahead with their Blues Alley Cat project.

Cat, two years in the making, is an opera set in Over-the-Rhine and written to celebrate racial and cultural diversity. It's a project that Gorman hopes will draw positive attention to the neighborhood, even as it lightens racial tensions.

According to Gorman, the protagonist, a guy named Blue, transcends the differences that can divide people. He teaches his protÈgÈ, a boy named Jamael, lasting lessons about life and hope.

Anyway, they begin auditions - adults and children - in January, and hire a crew as well. Send bio and 81/2-by-11 photo to Blues Alley Cat, 67 Mulberry St., Cincinnati, OH 45202. For information, go to

The show will premiere in April 2003 at the newly rehabbed Empire Theatre, 1521 Vine St.

Got info? And this from the shadowy world of serial killers. Columbus writer Pete Franklin is writing a book about Anna Marie Hahn, the Cincinnati woman executed in 1938 for poisoning elderly gents.

She was America's first known female serial killer, he says, confessing to four murders and suspected of six more.

"But there's so much written about her that's just plain wrong, I decided to write this and set the record straight. In one book, there were 20 errors on one page alone."

What he's looking for now are locals with a connection to Hahn. Descendants of police who worked the case, of victims, relatives of jurors, anyone who might have heard something firsthand. E-mail him at


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