Particle has picked up quite a fan base over the past five years with its nonstop touring schedule (the Los Angeles-based foursome was voted Best New Band in 2002 by Relix magazine, the jam-band bible). But it's just recently gotten around to releasing its first studio album, Launchpad, a funkier, groove-filled version of the music that gets Hacky Sackers all worked up. While it adheres to many of the genre's staples -- extensive solos, flights of improv fancy, songs that last 20-plus minutes -- Particle adds some electronic noise to the mix. It's not always seamless, but it is daring -- and quite thrilling onstage. See for yourself at the House of Blues (308 Euclid Avenue) at 7 tonight. Tickets are $15; call 216-241-5555.
At tonight's Tasteful Affair, folks can nosh on food from more than 30 local restaurants, including Vivo, La Tortilla Feliz, and Saffron Patch. There'll also be beer and wine, along with music by Madison Crawl. Best of all, the sampling goes on inside the Crawford Auto-Aviation Museum, which includes a small but historic collection of old cars and airplanes. So grab a glass of pinot, head on over to one of the ancient planes, and impress the ladies by striking a dashing Howard Hughes pose. It happens from 6:30 to 9:30 at the museum, 10825 East Boulevard. Tickets are $40; call 216-721-5722.
Friday, May 13
For those with less refined palates, today's Real Men Cook offers a bounty of grub by local celebs. Politicians, TV anchors, radio personalities, and athletes step into the kitchen and emerge with salads, desserts, casseroles, and enough meat to choke a T. rex. More than 100 manly men gather (to help raise funds for the Women's Alliance for Recovery Services) from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Holiday Inn Select -- City Centre, 1111 Lakeside Avenue. Admission is $15. Call 216-575-9120 for more info.
The setup to Whisky feels like something out of Three's Company: An aging factory owner asks his loyal female worker to pose as his wife during a visit from his brother. But there are no sexual innuendos, sly winks, or people accidentally ending up in bed with each other. There's really no resolution either; things pretty much end up where they started in this subtle, delicately acted dramedy, which offers an engaging peek into sibling rivalry. It's at the Cleveland Cinematheque (11141 East Boulevard) at 10:15 tonight and 7:50 p.m. tomorrow. Admission is $8; call 216-421-7450.
Saturday, May 14
WVIZ-25's Televised Auction -- PBS's version of May sweeps -- happens this weekend, and it has so much cool stuff up for grabs (baseball cards, comic books, wall-covering artwork, Caribbean cruises, and food-filled gift baskets) that we don't mind ponying up cash to fund programs that we'll never, ever watch. Seeing the hosts stammer their way through items they clearly know nothing about is pretty priceless too. Action happens from noon to 1 a.m. today and noon to midnight tomorrow. Visit www.wviz.org for info and to place bids.
Sunday, May 15
Tourist, the second album by London's Athlete, is even more epic than its Mercury Music Prize-nominated 2003 debut, Vehicles and Animals. Clinging to the aural melodrama favored by such melancholy Britpoppers as Coldplay, Tourist (a No. 1 hit in its homeland) isn't so much a record to listen to as it is music to make you feel small within the context of the songs' lush soundscapes. Every track reaches a climax in which sweeping bridges, soaring hooks, and oh-so-pretty voices swoop in and carry away the listener. Athlete is at the Grog Shop (2785 Euclid Heights Boulevard in Cleveland Heights) at 9 p.m. Tickets are $8, available by calling 216-241-5555.
Monday, May 16
Singer-songwriter Andrew Bird is one strange, um, bird. Mixing and matching genres (folk, jazz), instruments (violin, guitar), and tone, The Mysterious Production of Eggs is one of the year's most diverse CDs. Bird is also a helluva whistler, and he shows off this talent on his hip and heavy fifth album. Live, he's even more unbridled, reworking his songs until they take flight with a new set of wings. Bird performs at the Grog Shop (2785 Euclid Heights Boulevard in Cleveland Heights) at 9 p.m. Tickets are $12; call 216-241-5555.
Tuesday, May 17
Joseph Lelyveld, former executive editor at The New York Times, doesn't really care whether you read his new book, Omaha Blues. Don't get him wrong; he'd like you to take a look at the family memoir. But he completely understands if his story of a young reporter's involvement with the Zionist movement doesn't interest you. "But studying your navel has its attractions," he notes. Lelyveld spent more than four decades at the Times. In 1985, he penned a Pulitzer-winning saga about South Africa. Omaha Blues, however, is his most personal work. "There were puzzles about my childhood that I needed to fill in," he says. "It was liberating. There were a lot of things bottled up inside me that I can now address." Lelyveld signs his book at 7 tonight at Joseph-Beth Booksellers, 24519 Cedar Road in Lyndhurst. Admission is free; call 216-691-7000.
Wednesday, May 18
We're not exactly sure what dancing, Wiffle Ball, and artwork have to do with one another, but today's Next Generation Handprint, billed as a "street-fair-style open house," brings them all together -- along with food, drink, and live music -- to spark young talent in Akron. While the hosts (including the Young Professionals of Akron) are focusing on the links between skills, technology, and community, it isn't all work and no play. "Think party; not PowerPoint" is the official motto. Participants will get a chance to network and hit a hollow plastic ball with holes in it. It runs from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at the Selle Generator Works Building, 451 South High Street in Akron. Admission is free; call 330-608-5150.