Get Out! 

The family's gone, now the real fun starts


Family Fun

Flying With Kids Never Looked This Fun

Imaginations take flight at the Aviation Education Center at the International Women's Air & Space Museum. "We offer very unique aviation activities, and it's all hands-on," says Toni Mullee, the museum's executive director. Tops among them is a simulator that allows junior pilots to experience the operation of the Wright brothers' glider. "It's very difficult, but it gives kids an idea of what the Wright brothers had to do when they were making this thing called an airplane." Children can also explore interactive lockers that help them understand what it's like to be a pilot, flight attendant, or mechanic; and an aviation "touch wall" allows them to touch actual airplane parts. Today, young visitors also can take part in a $1 craft session at 11 a.m. or 1 p.m. The museum is in the terminal building at Burke Lakefront Airport and operates from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily; admission is free. The Aviation Education Center is open today from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, call 216-623-1111 or visit www.iwasm.org. — Rebecca McKinsey




The sensational Dominick Farinacci trumpets in the New Year tonight with two performances at Nighttown. The Cleveland native was discovered at the age of 17 by no less a master than Wynton Marsalis. He went on to become part of Juilliard's inaugural Jazz Studies class, and he released his first CD — which reached the top of the Japanese jazz charts — while he was still a student. Since then, Farinacci has won international acclaim and a slew of awards for his musicianship, all while remaining a Cleveland favorite. He brings it all home tonight at 8 and 10 p.m. For tickets, call 216-795-0550. Nighttown is at 12387 Cedar Rd. in Cleveland Heights; learn more at nighttowncleveland.com. Erica Euse

Funny Stuff

Jeff Dunham Does the Wolstein Center

If you can't put a face to comedian Jeff Dunham's name, it's probably because he makes a living by drawing attention to his hand. In fact, Dunham doesn't even move his lips half the time, opting instead to let his puppets do the talking. But make no mistake: Being a ventriloquist hasn't stopped Dunham from gaining notoriety. 30 Rock fans might recognize him from the season-four episode "Stone Mountain." Comedy Central fans might recognize him from, well, countless Comedy Central specials. Dunham's stable of characters — like Achmed the Dead Terrorist, and Walter the grumpy retiree — catapulted him to No. 93 on Forbes' Celebrity100 list; and he's also snagged a spot on the New York Times bestseller list with his new autobiography, All By My Selves: Walter, Peanut, Achmed, And Me. Dunham's "Identity Crisis" tour stops at Cleveland State's Wolstein Center for a New Year's Eve show tonight at 8 p.m. Tickets are $49.50. Purchase them at wolsteincenter.com. The Wolstein Center is at 2000 Prospect Ave. downtown. Nathaniel Maund

Funny Stuff

Greg Behrendt Hits Hilarities

"I find cake to be evidence that life is supposed to be violently optimistic," says comedian Greg Behrendt. "And if you can't get down with cake, you've missed the boat." This is the kind of thing that Behrendt, who got his break as a story consultant for HBO's Sex and the City, likes to talk about. His standup routine covers an array of topics, but if there is a central theme, it's that life is good and cake is proof of that fact. But Behrendt's desire to rave about cake often obscures what he's most famous for: the 2004 bestseller He's Just Not That Into You. Since then, the comedian has frequently been asked for relationship advice by love-struck females. But Behrendt doesn't like playing Dr. Phil ("You come off as a prick"). "I've spent the last couple years just trying to put the spotlight back on my standup," he explains. You can catch his act tonight at 7:30 and 10:30 p.m. at Hilarities, at 2035 East Fourth St. Call 216-736-4242 or visit hilarities.com for tickets and prices. Maund

Cleveland Pops

Wicked Divas Play Severance Hall

Wicked Divas does not refer to the visiting aunts who have commandeered your guest room. It's a reference to Erin Mackey and Stephanie J. Block, sopranos who starred opposite each other in the Broadway production of Wicked, and who are in town this week to sing with the Cleveland Pops Orchestra at Severance Hall. Mackey, who played the goody-goody witch Glinda, and Block, the more interesting bad witch Elphaba, will warble tunes from Chicago, Funny Girl, Cabaret, and Phantom of the Opera before delving into their signature songs from Wicked. The concert lasts from 9 to 11 p.m. Afterwards, there's dancing in the upstairs lobby to a swing band led by conductor and clarinetist Carl Topilow. There's also dancing downstairs, where a light-rock band provides an alternative. Tickets are $44 to $104. Order by calling 216-231-1111 or online at clevelandorchestra.com. Severance Hall is at 11001 Euclid Ave. in University Circle. Michael Gill

Family Fun

Fireworks and Festivities at First Night Akron

Now in its 15th year, First Night Akron celebrates the arts and culture of its community at indoor venues throughout the city. As always, tonight's festival is loaded with family fun — everything from photo exhibits and Irish dancing to reggae and rock bands. Kids can make paper airplanes at the Akron-Summit County Library or get their hair beaded and braided at the Shoppes at Akron Centre. There will be luminaria, decked-out (former) department-store windows, and a festive fireworks finale at midnight too. Your $10 festival button provides admission to all this and more, as well as shuttle service between venues. (Children under 10 are free.) For schedules, artist listings, and button purchases, call 330-374-7690 or visit firstnightakron.org. Euse


Eat for the Arts

Pancake Breakfast at Tommy's

As if we need another excuse to pig out, here comes Tommy's with a doozy: an all-you-can-eat pancake chowdown with the proceeds going to a worthy cause! Yes, it's the 11th Annual Tommy's New Year's Day Pancake Breakfast, happening this morning in Coventry Village. All proceeds from the meal go to support Heights Arts, a nonprofit community organization fostering public arts appreciation. Apparently, the model works: Tommy's has raised $39,000 since the event launched in 2001. (That year, the funds went to help build the Coventry Arch at the intersection of Coventry Road and Euclid Avenue.) The breakfast is also a way to off-load unwanted gifts: Pancake-seekers are instructed to bring an "unwanted and unwrapped, but greatly appreciated" gift for a raffle, which also benefits the arts group. Volunteers will be serving the flapjacks and all the fixings from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., while Ron the Flower Clown wows the kids with balloon creations. Cost is $10 for adults and $5 for children 12 and younger. Tommy's is at 1824 Coventry Rd. in Cleveland Heights. Call 216-321-7757 for more information. Maund

Dance Party

Clampdown Comes to Touch Supper Club

Didn't pack in enough partying last night? Lucky you: The weekend is just getting started! Among tonight's best bets, check out the Clampdown, a high-energy rock & roll dance party that takes place the first Saturday of each month at Touch Supper Club. Unlike your usual hip-hop and techno-oriented dance nights, the Clampdown focuses on rock. Every era is represented: from the Stones and Bowie to the Strokes and Yeah Yeah Yeahs. With its roots in Columbus, the Clampdown made its way to Cleveland in May of 2010. Tonight's party is hosted by Clampdown founders Charles Erickson and Lance Keeney, along with Cleveland DJ Reena Samaan. The party starts at 10 p.m. for those 21 and over. It's free, but you might bring along some cash for food and drink. Touch is at 2710 Lorain Ave. in Cleveland; call 216-631-5200 or visit touchohiocity.com for more information. Bill Delaney


Le Femme Mystique at the Beachland

It should be quite a show tonight at the Beachland Ballroom when the girls and boys of Le Femme Mystique take to the stage with A Very Roxy New Year. The Cleveland-based burlesque troupe has put together a rhinestone-studded evening of singing, dancing, and stripteasing that founder Bella Sin assures us will be "very interactive." For her part, the 26-year-old Ms. Sin has been a burlesque devotee since 2004, when she tried out her first routine in Denver. "I think it's all the glitter and the feathers," she confides. Tonight, her 12-member troupe will be joined by other luscious ladies from a similar burlesque group in Detroit, for a show that she promises will offer something for everyone, including the ever-popular "boobies, laughs, and boas!" Doors open at 8:30 p.m., and the 18-and-over show begins at 9 p.m. Tickets are $10 at the door or online at beachlandballroom.com. A portion of tonight's proceeds helps benefit the Domestic Violence Center. Cicora


Funny Stuff

John Caponera at Hilarities

If John Caponera looks familiar, it’s probably because he is. A Chicago native, the comic has spent the past 30 years appearing in shows like Blossom, ER, and The Drew Carey Show. But he’s also taken his show on the road, much to the delight and shock of audiences across the country. Reviewers use words like “physical,” “formidable,” and “street savvy,” to describe his routine, a shtick that one critic claims “soars into a dimension ruled in tandem by sarcasm and negativity.” Sounds like fun! Caponera will be soaring tonight through January 9 at Hilarities 4th St. Theatre. Tickets are $15 to $20. Call 216-736-4242 or go to pickwickandfrolic.com for more information and tickets. Hilarities is at 2035 East Fourth St. — Niehaus

Fresh Air

Cookie Burner Hike at CVNP

If post-holiday visions of sugarplums are making you feel a little queasy, the outdoorsy types at the Cuyahoga Valley National Park are ready to help. Set out with park ranger and interpreter Jesse Kanuch at 9 a.m. today on a strenuous, 11-mile "cookie burner" hike. Yes, 11 miles is a long, long way — especially when you measure them along the Buckeye Trail, a back-country route that Kanuch calls the most challenging in the park. "I've had strong men poop out on me, and I've also had 11-year-old kids complete the hike," he says of the five-hour trek. Be sure to wear sturdy shoes and pack a cookie-free lunch! The free hike steps off at the park's HQ at 15610 Vaughn Rd. in Brecksville. Interested in a shorter or longer hike? Stop by the visitors' center, and the rangers will map out an appropriate path. For more information, visit nps.gov/cuva or call 330-657-2752. Alyse Lamparyk


Great Lakes Science Center

Last Chance to Explore Strange Matter

You'd better hurry if you want to get in touch with your inner scientist: The Strange Matter exhibit at the Great Lakes Science Center ends today. Luckily, there's still a little time left for you and the kids to poke, prod, squeeze, and shatter all sorts of weird stuff. Among the dozen hands-on options, you can feel the bumpy ridges of a larger-than-life foam display that reaches up to the ceiling, and slip on a pair of gloves and push your hands through a vat of liquefied metals. Then try to channel your inner Hercules as you hurl a bowling ball at a sheet of heat-tempered glass that may or may not shatter on impact. It's more than just fun: It's a perfect way to learn about the nature of the world around us. The exhibit is open today from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $14.95 for adults, $13.95 for seniors, and $12.95 for kids ages 2 to 17. The Great Lakes Science Center is at 601 Erieside Ave. Visit greatscience.com or call 216-694-2000 for tickets and more information. Chrissy Niehaus


College Football

Sugar Bowl Party at the Blind Pig

Today's the day the Ohio State Buckeyes meet the Arkansas Razorbacks in the Allstate Sugar Bowl. Fans unable to make the trek to New Orleans have a fun alternative: Downtown's Blind Pig Speakeasy will be hosting a watch party beginning at 4:30 p.m. If you're going alone, snag a five-buck seat at the bar; if you roll with a crowd, plunk down $20 to $30 to reserve a table for four or six. Once you've marked your spot, you can dig into the Cajun buffet or take a swig of your first beer, compliments of Bud Light. Drew Kraemer, director of event operations at Hermes Sport and Social, assures us there will be plenty of TVs tuned to the game's 8:30 p.m. kickoff. But there might not be many remaining seats. "We're anticipating a sellout," says Kraemer. To register, hurry on over to hermescleveland.com or call 216-623-9933. The Blind Pig Speakeasy is at 1228 West Sixth St. Lamparyk


Road Trippin'

RV Super Show Pulls Into the IX Center

Camping and vacationing enthusiasts, take note: The annual Ohio RV Super Show returns to the IX Center today through Sunday. Billed as America's largest indoor event of its kind, the expo will feature more than 600 new RVs, including tent campers, travel trailers, and motor homes. Special guest Brian Brawdy will be on hand with his Green RV, demonstrating how an RV can be eco-friendly while still possessing a honking big diesel engine. And there will be plenty of opportunities to check out the RV accessories and get lost in the wonderland of aluminum siding and steel-belted radials. Show admission is $11.50 and does not include the $8 parking fee. Visit ixcenter.com for more information or call 216-676-6000. The IX Center is at One IX Center Dr. in Cleveland. Aaron Vilk

Film for Foodies

Kings of Pastry Reign at the Art Museum

Gastro-porn at its finest, Kings of Pastry will screen tonight at the Cleveland Museum of Art. Directed by the Academy Award-nominated duo of Chris Hegedus and D.A. Pennebaker, the documentary follows 16 French pastry chefs through a grueling culinary gauntlet to claim the title of best in France. We hear the pastries are mouthwatering, and the plot is as suspenseful as Hitchcock. "Forget MasterChef; this is the culinary Hurt Locker," raves the Herald Scotland. The bake-off begins at 7 p.m. in the museum's Lecture Hall. General admission is $9, or $7 for CMA members, students, and seniors. For more info, call 216-421-7350 or visit clevelandart.org. The Cleveland Museum of Art is at 11150 East Blvd. in University Circle. Vilk

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