Insects are freaky. Not Lil' Kim freaky, but heebie-jeebies-causing freaky. We definitely wouldn't want to be locked in a room with a bunch of them (actually, we wouldn't want to be locked in a room with Lil' Kim either). Still, the Botanical Garden's educational Bugged Out! program offers several reasons for us to put aside our fears for an afternoon. There's a Bug Bar (munch on a cricket!), a Bug Race, and an Insect Petting Zoo -- because those Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches are just so darn cuddly. Prepare to get a serious case of the willies at the Cleveland Botanical Garden (11030 East Boulevard) through April 3. It's open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $7, $3 for kids; call 216-721-1600.
Primer is one of the biggest mindfucks in cinematic history. The acclaimed sci-fi film follows a team of engineers who operate a computer-based side business out of one member's garage. Before long, the two most ambitious guys are tinkering with something bigger. Turns out they've created a sort of time machine that allows replicas of themselves to scour the real world for stock tips during the day, while the two inventors pass the time playing games in a secluded hotel room. Of course, things go wrong, and moral/material quandaries are pondered. More heady and twisty than anything H.G. Wells ever dreamed up, Primer is also one migraine-inducing flick. It practically begs for repeated viewings to answer all the metaphysical questions it raises and probably can't satisfactorily resolve. Nonetheless, you'll be thoroughly engaged. It shows at the Cleveland Cinematheque (11141 East Boulevard) at 7 tonight. Admission is $8; call 216-421-7450.
Friday, April 1
Don't get too excited by the Breaking the Silence Erotic Film & Art Festival happening at Asterisk Gallery. While the program features work by and about actors in the porn industry and people who shag for a living, it's more Mapplethorpe-artsy than Jenna-Jameson-wood-inducing. Movies, artwork, poetry, photography, performance art, and the ever-scary "feminist pornography" are all on tap. Artists include sex-workers-rights advocate Scarlot Harlot, Cop to Call Girl author Norma Jean Almodovar, and "sexologist" Dr. Annie Sprinkle. It's at Asterisk Gallery (2393 Professor Avenue) at 6 p.m. today and tomorrow. Admission is free; for info, call 216-650-3963.
Saturday, April 2
Widespread Panic has spent most of the past two decades on the road. It's finally paid off: The Georgia jam band is one of the most treasured and accomplished touring groups out there. They're coming off a 15-month break, which must feel like an eternity to them. They recently released Live at Myrtle Beach, a two-CD set that is heavy on noodling and butt-numbing songs. Experience it live when the band plays the State Theatre (1519 Euclid Avenue) at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $29.50; call 216-241-6000.
Sunday, April 3
Rare is a collection of photographs from the 1890s that depict the era in its most natural, undisturbed state; rarer still is a set taken by a woman. The Massillon Museum's Belle Johnson Photographs features 22 black-and-white shots snapped by the award-winning shutterbug. Cuddly kitties, old folks, and (most famously) women with super-long hair populate the pics, which are on display through April at the museum, 121 Lincoln Way East in Massillon. It's open 2 to 5 p.m. today and 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Admission is free; call 330-833-4061.
Monday, April 4
Book lovers, rejoice! One of our favorite reasons for living -- the Spring Used Book Sale -- is at the Cleveland Public Library this week. There's always thousands of books up for grabs, ranging from paperback novels and kiddie lit to oversized art tomes and biographies. It runs 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. today through Wednesday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday, April 7 (when a bag of books goes for a mere $4), at the Cleveland Public Library, 325 Superior Avenue. Admission is free; call 216-623-2821.
Tuesday, April 5
On its new CD, Wicked Twisted Road, Austin's Reckless Kelly fires up the fiddles and mandolin, and makes its best album since forming in the late '90s. There are tales of heartbreak and remorse, as well as some good old-fashioned drinking songs. And Willy Braun has become one of Americana's most endearing singers, incorporating a sad twang and sexy swagger into his band's mix of rebel yells and hopeless laments. They're at Wilbert's (812 Huron Road) at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $10, available by calling 216-902-4663.
Wednesday, April 6
Attorney Philip Beard doesn't really know what drives lawyers to write fiction. He does know, however, that his book, Dear Zoe, isn't a John Grisham-style nail-biter. "Most of them write lawyer-type novels," sniffs the Pittsburgh author. "I don't do that, and it's not the type of story that interests me." Dear Zoe -- which Beard was set to self-publish until Viking Penguin scooped it up at the last minute -- is told by a 15-year-old girl to her deceased three-year-old sister, who was struck by a car on September 11, 2001. "Thousands and thousands of people experienced their own small tragedies that day," says Beard. "But the death of a child is every parent's greatest fear, and it was something I wanted to explore." But don't bring up comparisons to Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones, the 2002 bestseller narrated by a dead teenage girl, cautions Beard. "The voice in The Lovely Bones is a formal voice," he says. "It's not a teen voice. And it's an omniscient voice. This is a personal, claustrophobic view of a tragedy." Beard signs copies of Dear Zoe at 7 p.m. at Joseph-Beth Booksellers, 24519 Cedar Road in Lyndhurst. Admission is free; call 216-291-2467 for more info.
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