We're all for spending Thanksgiving with the family. But there's nothing wrong with a little me-time today -- preferably spent on the links. There are several opportunities to sneak away and sink putts, since three Cleveland Metroparks Golf courses are open from dawn to dusk: Shawnee Hills (18753 Egbert Road in Bedford Heights; 440-232-7184), Big Met (4811 Valley Parkway in Fairview Park; 440-331-1070), and Mastick Woods (19900 Puritas Road; 216-267-5626). Call the courses for fees.
The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo also celebrates Thanksgiving by offering free admission all day. In addition to the usual lions, tigers, and bears on display, a bunch of animal-enrichment programs are on tap. Experts will be on hand to make the animals feel at home -- which should be quite a feat, since Cleveland's chilly November climate is a far cry from the sweltering Serengeti. Still, staff will feed sharks, put elephants through some "training demonstrations," and bury cranberry sauce for the chimps to find (holiday tie-in!). Hope they share. The zoo (3900 Wildlife Way) is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call 216-661-6500 for more info.
Friday, November 25
Are you ready? The holiday season officially kicks off today with folks getting up at 5 a.m. to hit the Wal-Marts and Best Buys. Tower City Center gets in on the action by offering its shoppers Holiday Magic!, a free musical production about a group of toys and their search for Santa. Broadway-style dancers and sing-alongs are promised. Let's see Wal-Mart top that! Show times are 1 and 4 p.m. today and tomorrow at Tower City, 50 Public Square; call 216-771-0033.
Many Christmas-themed plays also open this week. One of the area's finest productions, Great Lakes Theater Festival's annual staging of A Christmas Carol, starts tonight. In addition to being a relatively faithful adaptation of Charles Dickens' original text (despite the story-within-a-story gimmick that Gerald Freedman's script employs), it's one of the few productions of this oft-staged classic to portray Scrooge as a total prick. That's the sort of holiday spirit we look for this time of year. A Christmas Carol plays at the Ohio Theatre (1519 Euclid Avenue) through December 23. Show times are 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 1:30 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, and 3 p.m. Sunday. Tickets range from $17.50 to $55; call 216-241-6000.
Saturday, November 26
Normally, we stay far, far away from tribute bands. But we're totally pumped for tonight's Wish You Were Here concert in Canton. It's performing The Wall, Floyd's best work (sorry, Dark Side of the Moon fans) and the greatest concept album ever made (apologies to Tommy lovers). The local group will perform The Wall in its entirety onstage, just as the real Pink Floyd did back in 1980 during a very limited concert tour. It'll bring along props, including the wall itself, which builds piece by piece over the course of the show. No word, however, if the giant talking anus will be there. Show time is 8 p.m. at the Canton Palace Theatre, 605 Market Avenue in Canton. Tickets are $18 to $29, available by calling 216-241-5555.
Sunday, November 27
Native Clevelander and Adaptation subject Susan Orlean returns home today to talk about her career in words, as part of Cleveland Public Library's Writers and Readers Series. Orlean -- who's written for The New Yorker and Rolling Stone, and penned the best-selling The Orchid Thief -- recently edited The Best American Essays 2005, a collection to which she's contributed in the past. Orlean is at the library (525 Superior Avenue) at 2 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, call 216-623-2800.
Monday, November 28
Like most people born after 1860, we prefer store-bought gifts to homemade ones. Give us an iPod Nano over a hand-sewn cap any day. Still, there's something to be said for crafting a gift from scratch. Art House's Jewelry Making workshop features tips, techniques, and all the materials you need to make awesome accessories studded with beads and chains for that special someone. It happens from 7 to 9 p.m. at Art House, 3119 Denison Avenue. Fee is $50. Call 216-398-8556 to register.
Tuesday, November 29
There was a time not too long ago when women doctors were seen as novelties. Changing the Face of Medicine: Celebrating America's Women Physicians, a traveling exhibit at Case Western Reserve University, gives it up for the lady docs who strapped on stethoscopes back in the day. Shout-outs go to pioneers like Elizabeth Blackwell (the first woman to get a degree) and Matilda Evans (the first black woman to be licensed). But it's the general survey of gallbladder-removing gals -- told through photos, stories, and artifacts -- that makes this a must-see. Changing the Face of Medicine is on display through December 20 at CWRU's Allen Memorial Medical Library's Cushing Reading Room, 11000 Euclid Avenue. It's open from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, and 1 to 6 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free. Call 216-368-3643 for more information.
Wednesday, November 30
There's nothing like a little punked-up Irish music for the holidays! Madison, Wisconsin's the Kissers just released their second album, Good Fight, and like their 2003 debut, it's loaded with banjo-, accordion-, and violin-fueled drinking songs. Yeah, we're wondering too what a bunch of Cheeseheads know about uilleann pipes and tin whistles. But they manage to pull it off. Tracks range from traditional favorites (like "Molly Malone" and "Muirsheen Durkin") to original compositions that sound like traditional favorites ("Ballad of Cobb Tyler" and "Captain George"). It's enough to have us dreaming of a green Christmas. The Kissers are at the Beachland Tavern (15711 Waterloo Road) at 9 tonight. Tickets are $7, available by calling 216-383-1124.
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