Over the last four months, more than 50 Fat Fish Blue performers have made their case for earning a cool grand. The last two competitors will take the mic Tuesday at the club's $1,000 Talent Search. Judging is simple: The Fat Fish house bandleader, its manager, and audience members all have a say in picking the winner. "If you have a large, boisterous following, you're in pretty good shape," says Deb Townsend, Fat Fish entertainment director.
The winner rakes in the thousand bucks; runners-up walk away with guitars, time at a recording studio, and hot-tub packages. Past winners have launched careers from their victory: The Swamp Boogie Queens and Stan the Man have since become Fat Fish Blue regulars. "We're looking for people to have a chance to be discovered," Townsend says. Discover them yourself on Tuesday at 8 p.m. Fat Fish Blue is at 21 Prospect Avenue. Admission is free; call 216-875-6000. -- Cris Glaser
Daniel Mason conjures his own Heart of Darkness.
In Daniel Mason's first novel, The Piano Tuner, the titular 19th-century character is sent to Burma to ply his craft. While there, he encounters an army doctor not far removed from author Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness resident madman, Kurtz. "I was influenced by Heart of Darkness," Mason admits. "But this is only because it so wonderfully articulates such a deeply universal theme -- the voyage into the wilderness." But don't lump The Piano Tuner in with that other modern interpretation of Conrad's classic. "My book is not based on [Heart of Darkness] as, say, Apocalypse Now is," he says. "Carroll [Piano's military surgeon] is not Kurtz. But I think it comes from the same place as that book, the same imagining about what it is like to travel upriver and into the unknown." Mason discusses and signs The Piano Tuner (which was recently released in paperback) at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Joseph-Beth Booksellers (13217 Shaker Square). Admission is free; call 216-751-3300. -- Michael Gallucci
Dole Out the Barrel
The best reward is wood at Little Italy's wine contest.
Dale Mitchell knows the recipe for fine wine: Age it properly, and "hope for a little dumb luck." Mitchell and five other judges will taste-test 100 different Syrahs, Zins, and Cabernets Saturday at the Taste of Little Italy Home Wine-Making Competition. The winning vintner will take home an empty 50-gallon oak barrel, the better to improve upon the winning recipe. To make your own barrel-worthy vino, start with ripe grapes. "Either fresh grape juice, if you're making white wine, or good, fresh, sound grapes, if you're making red wine," Mitchell says. The tasting starts at 1 p.m. at Holy Rosary Church, 12009 Mayfield Road. Serious pouring begins after the winner's barrel is bestowed. Admission is $12; call 440-888-7296. -- Cris Glaser
A Celebration of Apathy
Nothing Ever Happens is the first U.S. traveling exhibition by Japanese artist Yoshitomo Nara. His paintings, drawings, and sculptures -- many of them touching on adolescent angst and apathy -- refer to everything from Renaissance paintings to anime to punk rock. The exhibit opens Friday and runs through January 4, 2004, at the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland (8501 Carnegie Avenue). It's open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Admission is $3 and $4; call 216-421-8671. -- Michael Gallucci
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