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This week's choicest event picks

Thursday | 09

Family Fun

Aliens at the Observatory

At about 11:20 p.m. on November 7, 1957, Huntsburg resident Olden Moore was returning home when he saw a saucer-shaped object approaching him from above the road, bright and shiny as a star. "In a matter of seconds it was over a large field. While it was still high in the air, it seemed to split apart, and one section moved upward out of my range of vision. The other descended slowly and silently into the field adjoining the road, where it loomed big like a house in front of me," he told the local paper. What followed was an investigation that allegedly went all the way to Washington, D.C. Turns out, Moore's sighting was one of many that occurred in Geauga County during the 1950s; retired mechanical engineer Glenn Frohning experienced his in 1954 and has since become something of a local UFO historian. Together with retired science teacher Bob Sledz, Frohning will be discussing the mysteries of the night sky at Montville Township's new Observatory Park tonight at 7 p.m. Besides the space talk, guests will be treated to coffee, tea, and pastries. It's free, but reservations are required at 440-286-9516 or at foundation@geaugaparkdistrict.org. The park is at 10610 Clay St. in Montville Township. The truth is out there. — Cicora

Friday | 10

Big Ideas

Launch the Weapons of Mass Creation

Despite the imposing moniker, this weekend's Weapons of Mass Creation Fest is "really just a chance for young creative professionals to come together and hear from the artists and designers who have inspired them," says founder Jeff Finley of the Cleveland graphics design firm Go Media. First launched in 2010, WMC Fest is designed to kick-start your creative mojo regardless of your medium. To that end, the festival offers talks by 20 young designers, artists, illustrators, and assorted creatives, along with 20 bands and a curated art show featuring local and regional talent. But while the event spans three days and three venues, you won't pay a major festival price to join the party. "We wanted to make it open to anyone, so cost should not be a factor," says Finley. Tickets for tonight's 7 p.m. pre-fest mixer at Happy Dog are just $5. On Saturday and Sunday, admission is $15 a day or $28 for both; tickets for the speakers only are $10. All three festival locations are on Detroit Ave.: Speakers are at the Reinberger Auditorium (5209 Detroit), the art show happens at Wall Eye Gallery (5304 Detroit), and the bands take the stage at the Happy Dog (5801 Detroit). For a schedule, speakers' backgrounds, and to purchase tickets, visit wmcfest.com. — Lydia Munnell

Ciao Time

Food & More at Italian Fest

Even if you don't hail from the land of salume and Sangiovese, there's plenty of bel cibo to be found at the 11th Annual Italian American Summer Festival at the Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds. On the menu: everything from pasta, calamari, and fried smelts to gelato, tiramisu, and cannoli. Test your devouring skills in the pasta-eating contest on Saturday, or enter Sunday's homemade wine contest. Also on the bill: a cornhole tournament and music daily, including tonight's performances by Cleveland's own '80s tribute band the Breakfast Club. Tickets are $8 at the gate, although Saturday's wine tasting will set you back another $10. Parking is free, as are kids under 12. Hours today are 5 p.m. to midnight. The fairgrounds are at 164 Eastland Rd. in Berea. Learn more at 440-243-0090 or visit italianamericansummerfestival.com. — Courtney Kerrigan

Funny Stuff

Christopher Titus Takes Over Hilarities

True or false: Custody battles are hilarious. Same for family suicides, heart attacks, and fist-fighting your old man. If you answered "true" to any of these, Christopher Titus is your kind of comic. Titus finds the funny in subjects most comedians wouldn't dare touch. Perhaps best known as the star of his own FOX sitcom Titus, Titus has made a name for himself with his dark yet accessible musings on the bad stuff that creeps into everyone's life. He'll be bringing it to Hilarities this weekend for four 21-and-over performances. Tonight's shows are at 7:30 and 10:15. Tickets are $23 and can be purchased online at pickwickandfrolic.com or by calling 216-736-4242. Hilarities is inside Pickwick and Frolic at 2035 East 4th St. — Maxwell Hayden

Saturday | 11

Take the Kids

Time Again to Parade the Circle

It's been 22 years since sculptor and performance artist Robin VanLear launched Parade the Circle as part of the festivities marking the 75th anniversary of the Cleveland Museum of Art. As the museum's director of community arts, VanLear has overseen every parade since, earning oodles of awards and recognition in the process. The region's signature summer event returns today with the usual cast straight out of Wonderland: stilt walkers, dancers, musicians, and larger-than-life puppets, all decked out in fantastic masks and astonishing handmade costumes. This year's theme, "Voices Among Voices," celebrates the global village created by art and artists; guest creatives include three members of Johannesburg's Les Grandes Personnes d'Afrique, makers of ginormous marionettes who have been working in tandem with two artists from the parent company in France. While you're at the parade, be sure to check out Circle Village, featuring food, arts and crafts, and live music. The day's doings run from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The parade steps off at noon, and the entire free event goes on regardless of the weather. For more information and a full list of activities, visit universitycircle.org. — Hayden

Saturday | 11

Neighborhood Hop

Festivities in Gordon Square

Today while the East Side parades the Circle, the West Side will be hosting its own good times on Gordon Square. The multi-hour fest launches this morning at 10 a.m. with classic cartoons at the Capital Theatre and doesn't end till midnight, when the lights go off at Cleveland Public Theatre's end-of-season shindig. In between, you'll find live music on three stages, exhibitions at the 78th Street Studios, walking tours of the Gordon Square 'hood, specials at local restaurants, a beer garden, food trucks, and more. And in a fine show of cross-town solidarity, organizers are offering four free round-trip rides to Parade the Circle via Lolly the Trolley, between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. "Last year a group of women came from Shaker via the trolley and were in awe," says development manager Mary Hromyko. "They had never been to this part of town before." It's all happening on Detroit Avenue between West 54th and West 69th streets. For more information, go to gordonsquare.org or call 216-961-4242. — Maile

More Power to You

Temple of Tesla

It's not often that one event can wow physicists, composers, and steam punks alike. But tonight's Temple of Tesla seems poised to pull it off. A collaboration between Ingenuity Cleveland and the Tesla Orchestra, Temple of Tesla may be the strangest concert you've ever seen. It straddles the line between a rock show and a science experiment, with original compositions played on lightning bolts from two of the world's largest musical Tesla coils. "It's intense," says Ian Charnas of the Tesla Orchestra. Then again, what would you expect from a musical group made up mainly of Case Western Reserve engineers and researchers? In terms of engineering expertise, Charnas says the concert is "one of the most challenging things you can do. One of these 10-foot sparks transmits many, many kilowatts of power, and can be very dangerous." That hasn't deterred his team from coming up with additional special effects for tonight's gig, including something Charnas will only describe as a "lightning guitar." Opening the 8 p.m. show is Chicago's Blue Ribbon Glee Club, performing hip-hop, punk, and rock songs in a glee-club format. "They are really good," says Charnas. "I hope they don't upstage us." Tickets are $20 in advance or $25 at the door; snag 'em at 216-589-9444 or online at ingenuitycleveland.com. Temple of Tesla is at the Masonic Auditorium, 3615 Euclid Ave. For more info, check out teslaorchestra.com. — Elaine T. Cicora

Words & Pictures

14 Opens in Collinwood

More than most books, R. A. Washington's 14 is open to interpretation. That's because the local poet, artist, and musician wrote the 14-chapter novelette specifically to spark artful creativity. The storyline — which follows an unnamed protagonist who wakes up after an argument to find his lover dead in the bathroom with no memory of what happened — leaves plenty of room for artistic license. Says Washington: "I was playing with the idea of how we interpret relationships. As a man and a heterosexual, I like the ambiguity of that, and in art I think it is important to consider the notion of 'otherness.'" You can consider it too, tonight from 6 to 10 p.m. at the exhibition's opening reception. Fourteen local artists, including Dave Desimone, Chris Kulcsar, Katie Maurer, and Dott Schneider have brought each of the book's two-page chapters to life inside one of 14 rooms on the second floor of an abandoned 1960s-era bank building. Guests are invited to literally walk through the novelette, taking in the imagery while reading the story. The takeaway, says Washington, is all about collaboration. "Writers sometimes float above the ether, so I hope what people will see is the energy of what's possible when artists come together." The free exhibition will also be open June 18 from 6 to 10 p.m. and June 25 from noon to 7 p.m. Find it inside the former Key Bank building at 15619 Waterloo Rd. — Cicora

Reunion in Cain Park

Bela Fleck & the Original Flecktones

For Grammy-winning banjo player Bela Fleck, getting the original Flecktones back together after nearly 20 years has been a joyful experience. "It feels ancient and brand new at the same time. Everyone has grown and has new ideas to inspire each other, yet we have all the tools in place to work well with each other. It's just fun." Now Bela and the boys are touring in support of their newest album, Rocket Science, which topped the iTunes jazz chart when it debuted in May. Their new material presents a broad range of influences, including classical, jazz, bluegrass, African, and Eastern European folk dances. "It's always been music that challenges the mind while moving the feet," says Fleck. "If the music has a strong groove, it can have a lot of cool ideas in it without losing the common man." Besides the new tunes, tonight's Cain Park concert will feature music from the quartet's first three albums, made between 1989 and 1992. "And we'll only be on tour this year," reminds Fleck. "After next April, we go back to separate projects — so this is the time to see the Flecktones if you ever wanted to." Tonight's show is at 8 p.m. in the park's Evans Amphitheater. It's $22 on the lawn and $32 for reserved seats; snag 'em by phone at 216-371-3000, in person at the park, or online at ticketmaster.com. Cain Park is at 14591 Superior Rd. in Cleveland Heights; check out cainpark.com for directions and details. — Cicora

Sunday | 12

Polka Fest

Oom-pah On the Lake

If there's a better way to spend a Sunday afternoon than with pierogies and polka, the fans flocking to the Northeast Ohio Polka Fest probably don't want to hear about it. Back for its 23rd year, the festival features ethnic fare (think kielbasa, kraut, and those plump pierogies) along with continuous music from some of the region's best-known polka bands. Today's entertainment begins at noon with the Joey Tomsic Band and continues until midnight with sets by Mike Wojtila, the Casuals, and Me & My Gang. Admission is $7, and kids under 12 are free. It all happens at the Old Firehouse Winery in Geneva on the Lake. While you're there, make time to enjoy a bottle of the Firehouse's premium wine — the crisp Lake Erie Riesling, perhaps? — and a ride on the 1956 Erieview Park Ferris Wheel. The winery is at 5499 Lake Rd. For more info, call 440-466-9300 or check out oldfirehousewinery.com. — Maile

Cleveland Food Rocks!

Chefs Jam Today at the Rock Hall

"The Cleveland food scene is really kicking ass right now," says Steve Schimoler, owner and executive chef of the soon-to-relaunch Crop Bistro on West 25th St. A rock fan and talented drummer, Schimoler founded Chef Jam in 2009 to leverage our rep as a music city into national acclaim for our food. Now in its third year, Chef Jam, which returns today to the Rock Hall, seems to be doing just that: Among the talent judging the Maker's Mark Chef's Challenge will be journalist and Iron Chef judge Akiko Katayama, Food & Wine associate food editor Daniel Gritzer, and James Beard Award-winning chef Koren Grieveson of Chicago's Avec. Local chefs will be serving rock-inspired dishes like the "Yellow Submarine" (Pier W's Fab Four-inspired yellowtail hamachi) and "Eggs on a Plate with Idiot Hot Sauce" (Blue Point's crabby tip o' the hat to Iggy Pop). And for entertainment, Schimoler's Cream of the Crop All-Stars will perform along with Abbey Rodeo and New York's infamous Naked Cowboy. Few know that the Cincinnati-born Naked Cowboy (Robert Burck) is a spokesman for Blue Island Shellfish, which sells Naked Cowboy Oysters. In fact, local celeb chef Zack Bruell will be featuring the product in his own Blue Öyster Cult-inspired dish. Assuming there are still tickets left, $65 gets you food, beer, wine, and access to Rock Hall exhibits from 7 to 11 p.m. Get them at rockhall.com. The Hall is at 1100 Rock and Roll Blvd.; call 216-515-1266 for more info. — Ryan Young

Sunday | 12

At Crocker Park

Going to the Dogs

It's art and bark at Crocker Park this weekend, as the shopping destination combines its annual Fine Art Fair with some pooch-friendly fun. Amid the annual exhibit of jewelry, ceramics, glass, and wood, the retail haven is hosting the new Crocker Bark fest, featuring canine-related games, shopping ops, and 12 local rescue groups offering doggies for adoption. Take your best friends through an agility course, let them cool down in the Kalahari Splash Zone, and show them off on the catwalk in the dog-adoption fashion show. There's also plenty of fun for owners, including 20-plus vendors featuring canine-related products. Besides the frivolity, organizers hope the event will help raise awareness of animal rescue and adoption efforts. Cat people, meantime, can stick to perusing more than 130 booths of juried artistry and craftsmanship from across the country. Today's hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Crocker Park is at 189 Crocker Park Blvd. in Westlake. For more information, visit crockerpark.com. — Kerrigan

Monday | 13

Fit for (French) Foodies

Cheese and Wine Tasting at L'Albatros

In preparation for tonight's Tour de France tasting at L'Albatros, sommelier Brandon Chrostowski has devoted the past six weeks to sampling more than 40 cheeses and 50 wines — just to find eight "magical" pairings. "It's a hard job," says the first-rate food guy. But yes, somebody has to do it. Besides the farmhouse cheeses and fine wines that Chrostowski sourced during a recent trip to the French countryside, guests will be treated to hors d'oeuvres, petit fours, and live music from Rolando Pizana. "There's a nice energy," says the sommelier. "It's like a party. About halfway through, people are up and dancing." Discover the magic tonight at 6:15 p.m. Cost is $55 per guest, excluding tax and tip, and reservations are required at 216-791-7880. Busy tonight? No problem. The Tour de France takes off again tomorrow, June 14. L'Albatros is at 11401 Bellflower Rd. in University Circle. For directions and more, go to albatrosbrasserie.com. — Cicora

Tuesday | 14

Fit for (Italian) Foodies

Wine Dinner at Encore

Chef Shawn Brozic and his team at downtown's Encore restaurant have cooked up a mouthwatering menu for tonight's Flavors of Tuscany wine dinner. Beginning with crostini topped with aged prosciutto and crisp sage goat cheese, the six-course blowout features a parade of tongue-tingling sensations, including chilled tomato consommé, seared bronzini, pork cheek ravioli, seared Duroc pork tenderloin, and moscato-macerated berries with sabayon brûlée and chocolate-dipped pistachio tuiles. Of course, each course — save for the pinot grigio sorbet intermezzo — is paired with a perfectly matched wine representing a particular region of Italy. (The Nessun Dorma super Tuscan shows up with the pork.) And considering that the $50 tariff includes dinner, tax, tip, and valet parking, it's a great value. Make your reservations at 216-615-3318. Encore is at 1260 Euclid Ave. inside the Wyndham Cleveland at Playhouse Square. For more info, go to wyndhamcleveland.com. — Cicora

Wednesday | 15

Funny Stuff

Dangerously Delicious in Lakewood

Let us break this down for you. Aziz Ansari is not a menu item. Aziz Ansari is not a type of automobile. Aziz Ansari is not a Third World ruler. Instead, Aziz Ansari is an actor and comedian, and according to divine authorities such as Entertainment Weekly, Conan O'Brien, and David Letterman, a pretty darn good one at that. The Parks and Recreation star brings his multi-city Dangerously Delicious Tour to the Cleveland area today when he appears at the Lakewood Civic Auditorium for a 7:30 p.m. show. Coming off a successful third season of Parks and Rec — not to mention the DVD release of his hour-long Comedy Central special Intimate Moments for a Sensual Evening, which continues to chart on iTunes' comedy best-seller list — Ansari will talk about everything from his love of food to his ideas for new business ventures. Tickets are $35 and can be purchased at livenation.com, all Ticketmaster locations, or charged by phone at 800-745-3000. The Lakewood Civic Auditorium is at 14100 Franklin Blvd. in Lakewood. Find more info at azizisbored.com/dangerouslydelicious. — Hayden

Brew at the Zoo

Lions & Tigers & Beers

Finally, a reason to get a buzz on in the company of wild animals: Tonight, the Akron Zoo is hosting Brew at the Zoo, a spread of light apps and beer tastings from local breweries, including Chardon BrewWorks and Eatery, Thirsty Dog Brewing Company, Ohio Brewing Company, Rocky River Brewing Company, and Indigo Imp Brewery. Sampling stations will be offered throughout the grounds and are included in the price of your $21 ticket. Still thirsty? Full-sized pours will be available for an additional $3. While you cruise for brews, take in the zoo's most popular attraction, Penguin Pointe, or say "yo" to critters like the Galapagos tortoises, African lions, and a real, live komodo dragon. The event runs from 6 to 9 p.m., and you must be of legal drinking age to attend. Parking is free. Visit Akronzoo.org for more info. Find them at 500 Edgewood Ave. in Akron. — Young

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