Alt-rock is alive and well in a pair of young bands from California. Trapt and Smile Empty Soul, on their eponymous debut albums, churn out ultra-heavy guitar riffs, while their easily irritated singers pile on enough dark and brooding imagery to populate a Wes Craven flick. Sure, these guys need to soak in their home state's sun once in a while, but if they did, a deep well of inspiration undoubtedly would be lost. Just scan the songs for proof: "Made of Glass," "Hollowman," and "Enigma" (Trapt); "Bottom of a Bottle," "With This Knife," and "All My Problems" (Smile Empty Soul). Three Days Grace is also on the bill. They play the Agora (5000 Euclid Avenue) at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $10, available by calling 216-241-5555.
Friday, August 8
Exactly what does it take to become a certified Lego MasterBuilder? First, candidates have to pass several timed tests using the tiny interlocking blocks, explains Lego spokesperson Kristin Greene. Then they must build a Lego sphere. One of the world's 40 MasterBuilders is in town this weekend for Lego's "What Will You Make, Cleveland?" Challenge. There'll be tips and tricks and things being built. Then the MasterBuilder tells you what's right and wrong about your creation. "These guys get paid to play," Greene says. "They can conceive and build six-foot-tall robots out of the same elements that any child can use. But they obviously have access to a few more Legos." The Challenge takes place from noon to 5 p.m. today, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. tomorrow, and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday at the Great Lakes Science Center (601 Erieside Avenue). Admission is free (Science Center admission is $5.95 to $7.95). Call 800-422-5346 for more information.
Saturday, August 9
Legends of the Old West sounds like Westworld, without the gunslinging robots gone awry. Tapping into the spirit of the 1870s, the Old West fest includes panning for gold, a shotgun wedding, square dancing, and card-playing with an old-school gambler. Even better is the planned bank robbery: After bandits make off with the loot, you can join a posse of angry villagers in tracking down the thievin' varmints. Just be sure to keep an eye out for the cowboy who looks like Yul Brynner. He's trouble. Legends of the Old West takes place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. today and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. tomorrow at Century Village Museum (at the intersection of routes 87 and 168 in Burton). Admission is $5, $3 for children (kids under six get in free). Call 440-834-1492 for more information.
Angelina Jolie, Tobey Maguire, and Jennifer Garner won't be at tonight's Super Star Party at Penitentiary Glen Reservation. But astronomy experts with huge-ass telescopes will be, and they're way better at spotting the Perseid meteor shower. "It's amazing how many people are passionate about astronomy," says nature center manager Dan Burnett. "And this is the very best night to see the shower." Super Star Party takes place from 8 p.m. to midnight at Penitentiary Glen Reservation (8668 Kirtland-Chardon Road in Kirtland). Admission is $4, $3 for kids, and advanced registration is recommended; call 440-358-7275. For more meteor-shower action, see Sports/Outdoors.
Sunday, August 10
Today's the last day to get an earful about the Metroparks with its Hear Here! Audio Tours. Pull your car into any of the designated reservations, tune your radio to 1620 AM, and listen to facts and historical stuff that happened on that spot before you parked there. You're sent on your way with tips on how and what to explore at the respective parks. Hear Here! is available at the following reservations: Rocky River, Garfield Park, Huntington in Bay Village, Mill Stream Run in Strongsville, Ohio & Erie Canal in Cuyahoga Heights, and North Chagrin in Willoughby Hills. Call 216-351-6300 for more information.
Monday, August 11
Prune the bushes, and tell the monkeys to sit up straight -- it's time for the Cleveland and Akron zoos' photography competitions! They're open to amateur photographers who shoot pics of the parks' animals and plants. Cleveland Metroparks Zoo's Photo Safari offers prizes in five categories (mammal, bird, plant . . .) for three age groups. Akron Zoo's Shutterbug Photo Contest also splits its prizes among three age classes, but doesn't differentiate among categories. Cleveland Metroparks Zoo's Photo Safari runs through August 31. Entry forms are available at the zoo (3900 Wildlife Way); call 216-661-6500 for more information. Akron Zoo's Shutterbug Contest runs through August 18. Entry forms are available at www.akronzoo.com; call 330-375-2550 for more info.
Tuesday, July 12
Cole Porter's Kiss Me Kate has always been a little too meta for its own good. The story, about an ex-husband and wife working together on a musical version of The Taming of the Shrew, mirrors Shakespeare's tale of a bickering couple. The key to the show is Porter's award-winning score. "Too Darn Hot" is among his best songs, and the plot-driving "Another Openin', Another Show" and "Tom, Dick or Harry" are nearly as good. Kiss Me Kate is at the Carousel Dinner Theatre (1275 East Waterloo Road in Akron) through August 31. Show times are 8 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 8:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 5 p.m. Sunday. Tickets range from $24.50 to $37. They are available by calling 330-724-9855.
Wednesday, August 13
When James Taylor comes to Blossom Music Center tonight, it's not songs from last year's October Road that people will be eagerly awaiting -- it's any of the 20 tracks on the recently released The Best of James Taylor they're after. "Sweet Baby James," "Fire and Rain," "You've Got a Friend," "Shower the People," and "Carolina in My Mind" oughta go down smooth on a hot August night. Taylor is at Blossom (1145 West Steels Corners Road in Cuyahoga Falls) at 8 p.m. Tickets are $32 and $55.50. They are available by calling 216-241-5555.