It may be America's favorite pastime, but baseball is religion in Japan. Tonight, William W. Kelly, a professor of Japanese studies at Yale University, talks about "Baseball in Japan: Sport, Society, and Culture. " He'll hit all the expected topics: the sport's impact on the media, its educational value, and the defection of major figures like Ichiro to U.S. teams. It takes place at 7:30 at the Dolan Center for Science and Technology at John Carroll University, 20700 North Park Boulevard in University Heights. Admission is free. Call 216-397-4321 for more information.
Friday, March 19
Ute Lemper is an old-school cabaret singer. She dresses the part, sporting gam-revealing outfits and slicking back her hair like a Berlin-bound theater refugee. She tackles the Kurt Weill songbook with biting enunciation and smoky tones. Hell, she's even German. Last year's But One Day . . . was a slinky, sexy return to her Brechtian roots. Previously, she strayed into contemporary territory, covering Nick Cave and Elvis Costello. Live, she pulls them all together for a show that's at turns funny, nostalgic, and heartbreaking. Lemper makes her Ohio debut at the Cleveland Museum of Art (11150 East Boulevard) at 7:30 p.m. Tickets range from $28 to $35, available by calling 216-421-7340.
Saturday, March 20
This weekend's Body, Mind & Spirit Expo features more than 60 experts advocating the wonders of t'ai chi, feng shui, and other exotic-sounding things you can do with your arms and furniture. There will be exhibitors shilling crystals, jewelry, and herbs; hands-on practitioners rubbing down backs, telling fortunes, and healing spirits; and lecturers talking about taking a spin on the "medicine wheel" and how you can meet your very own guiding angel. The kooky fun takes place from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. today and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. tomorrow at the Cleveland Masonic Center Exhibition Hall, 3615 Euclid Avenue. Admission is $8 (which gets you in both days). Call 541-482-3722 for more info.
How does a modern white man stage a period drama about racial injustice? Very carefully, says Sean McConaha, director of Weathervane's production of A Lesson Before Dying. "I have to watch an actor perform in chains every night," he says. "It's very complex and psychological." The story's centered on a black man wrongly sentenced to die for the murder of a white shopkeeper in 1940s Louisiana. "It's a tricky piece," McConaha says. "On the surface, it seems to be about just capital punishment. But it really isn't. It's about dignity." Lesson is at Weathervane Community Playhouse (1301 Weathervane Lane in Akron) through March 28. Show times are 7:30 p.m. Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $16 and $18; call 330-836-2626.
Sunday, March 21
There's that Brad Pitt movie. And the goofy-looking Beastie Boy. But not everything that has to do with Tibet is annoying. The proof is in Tibet: Cry of the Snow Lion, an informative documentary that relates the nation's 50-year fight for independence from China. "Our struggle is not for a piece of land," says one Tibetan. "It's for a way of life." This portrait, filmed over a decade, makes that clear. Martin Sheen, Tim Robbins, Susan Sarandon, and Ed Harris help tell the story. It screens at the Cleveland Cinematheque (11141 East Boulevard) at 7 p.m. Admission is $8, $5 for members; call 216-421-7450.
Monday, March 22
Music censorship didn't start with Eminem's homicidal fantasies. Or with W.A.S.P. advising folks to fuck like a beast. Or even with Elvis shaking his hips on TV. According to Berkeley prof Richard Taruskin, it goes all the way back to the 15th century. Today, he discusses "Musical Censorship: Who, Why, Where?" and traces artistic suppression through the ages, citing such examples as Russian opera, Nazi sympathizers, and the playa-hating tunes of the Boston Symphony. The talk starts at 4 p.m. at Case Western Reserve's Harkness Chapel, 11200 Bellflower Road. Admission is free; call 216-368-2400.
Tuesday, March 23
Imagine a world without Dr. Seuss: no Christmas-stealing Grinch. No Horton or Whos. Why, no freakin' green eggs and ham! (Then again, a world without Seuss also would have spared us that Cat in the Hat movie.) Borders is throwing a 100th-birthday party for the late author with stories, games, and activities based on his creations. So get ready to spend quality time with noodle-eating poodles and socks-wearing foxes. Oh, the joy you will have! The Seussentennial celebration starts at 11 a.m. at Borders, 2101 Richmond Road in Beachwood. Admission is free; call 216-292-2660 for more info.
Wednesday, March 24
Who knew the Western Reserve Historical Society had it in 'em? Today's Free Family Learning Event focuses on how water gets polluted, why food gets moldy, and other similarly stomach-turning topics. It's an environmental-awareness setup that includes plenty of hands-on activities, so parents and little ones alike can learn what happens to the air they breathe after they're finished with it. The free event runs from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Historical Society, 10825 East Boulevard; call 216-721-5722.
You have to go all the way back to 1978's Truth N' Time to find an Al Green album as exhilarating as last year's I Can't Stop. Green recorded it in Memphis with producer Willie Mitchell -- the same formula behind the singer's string of classic '70s soul records. His Greatest Hits Tour is just that: 30-plus years of "Tired of Being Alone," "Love and Happiness," "Let's Stay Together," etc. The Reverend Al shakes things up at the Palace Theatre (1519 Euclid Avenue) at 7:30 tonight. Tickets range from $35 to $55, available by calling 216-241-6000.