By Jim Knippenberg
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Play reading: Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati kicks off its popular Theater of the Mind Series with a staged reading of Campaign, a new musical satire of the political system by Gary Bragg, David DeMichelis and Erick Ottem. 7 p.m. today, ETC, 1127 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine. $6. 421-3555.
Rosenthal Center: There are only a couple of months left to see the new art center's world-class inaugural exhibit Somewhere Better Than This Place: Alternative Social Experience in the Spaces of Contemporary Art full of floor after floor of site-specific installations, interactive displays, photography, film, video, sculpture and more. And there's no excuse to wait with free admission 5-9 p.m. today, Sixth and Walnut streets, downtown. 345-8400.
Piano lounge: The Federal Reserve Piano Lounge dishes up happy hour music with pianist Herby Kirschner this evening followed by music from pianist/vocalist Jim Swartout and friends. Fourth and Race streets, downtown. 784-1999.
First Ladies: Here's a little twist on history - the lives of the first ladies. Good idea, eh?, since we already know all about their husbands. First ladies are the topics of the latest edition of Workman Publishing's Fandex series, the long, slim, two-sided die-cut cards bolted together at the bottom so it fans out. The first ladies edition is a color reproduction at the top, then a whole lot of little info bits at the bottom - like Lucy Hayes was the first woman in the White House with a college degree and Lou Hoover frequently spoke Chinese around the house. Stuff like that. It's $9.95 at bookstores. Check it out at www.workman.com.
'Christmas Carol': An early taste of Christmas hits the box office today when Playhouse in the Park starts selling tickets for A Christmas Carol. The holiday feel-good spectacle, now in its 13th year, will run Dec. 3-30. Tickets are $32-$47 for adults, $15-$20 for children 5 to 12 years old. They're available today through Thursday only at www.cincyplay.com; they're available by phone (421-3888) or at the Playhouse box office in Eden Park starting Friday.
24 hours out: The Weston Art Gallery has started its new exhibition season, and offers gallery talks with artists Cole Carothers and Ron Isaacs currently showing "monumental/miniature" paintings and multimedia trompe l'oeil constructions at the Aronoff Center exhibit space. 6-9 p.m. Tuesday, Seventh and Walnut streets, downtown, free. 977-4165.
48 hours out: Singer-songwriter Chris Smither brings his celebrated blues-folk-acoustic sounds to Jack Quinn's Emerald Ballroom. 8 p.m. Wednesday, 112 E. Fourth St., Covington, $15-$18. (859) 491-6699.
72 hours until Thursday: The Enquirer's no-holds-barred columnist Peter Bronson is at Joseph-Beth Booksellers to meet readers and introduce his hot-off-the-press collection of his most popular (and controversial) columns Cincinnati . . . for Pete's Sake, 5:30 p.m., Rookwood Pavilion, Madison and Edwards roads, Norwood. 396-8960.
96 hours out: Built to Spill, the rock heroes from Boise, Idaho, led by Doug Martsch, roll into town for a show at Bogart's, supported by the Delusions and the Solace Bros. 8:30 p.m. Friday, 2621 Vine St., Corryville. $15. 562-4949.
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