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Event picks for this wintery week in Cleveland

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Thursday | 19

Get Ready to Rumpus

All About Maurice Sendak

Anyone who has ever delighted in the picture books of Maurice Sendak knows the illustrator is anything but PC. Filled with surreal settings, mischievous characters, and a surprising amount of moral ambiguity — especially for a kiddie audience — works like Where the Wild Things Are and In the Night Kitchen have nonetheless become classics. A free film at the Lakewood Public Library takes a deeper look into the life of the 84-year-old Sendak: a Brooklyn-born Jew who has lived long enough to see his reputation go from crackpot to mad genius. Directed by Lance Bangs and Spike Jones, 2009's Tell Them Anything You Want is a frank, funny portrait of a reluctant literary hero. It's also part of a traveling Sendak exhibit — In a Nutshell: The Worlds of Maurice Sendak — that is parked at the library now through February 24. Tonight's movie shows at 7 p.m., and it's all free. To learn more, visit the website. — Cicora

15425 Detroit Ave., Lakewood, 216-226-8275,

Blown Away

Apollo's Fire Takes Nature for a Spin

Earth, Wind & Fire was the name of a 1970s soul band. It's also the name of this weekend's program by Apollo's Fire. Actually, the two aren't all that different. Consider: Rolling Stone once described the band as "precise yet sensual." The Boston Globe describes the classical music program — featuring works by Vivaldi, Rameau, and J.F. Rebel — as displaying "energy, discipline, style, and pizzazz." Plus, there's the fact that the award-winning band and the award-winning baroque orchestra both kick musical butt. If you think that's a strange way to describe a classical music ensemble, you surely haven't seen Apollo's Fire. That can be remedied tonight at 7:30 as the orchestra performs at the Rocky River Presbyterian Church. The concert repeats Saturday at 8 p.m. at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Cleveland Heights. Tickets start at $20 and can be had by phone or online. — Cicora

21750 Detroit Rd., Rocky River, 216-320-0012,

Friday| 20

The View From Yellowstone Park


Biologist Kerry Gunther has been communing with Yellowstone's grizzlies for nearly three decades. In that time, he's saved a lot of bears — mainly from misguided humans who are the major cause of bear mortality. "It's a constant battle," he says. "Every day, there are thousands of new visitors entering the park," and every one of them needs to be reminded to be cool with the bears. Gunther's success can be measured by the fact that today's Yellowstone grizzly population numbers 600, and the bears are on the verge of being delisted as an endangered species. "We've really put a lot of work and energy into it," he says. "It's one of the nation's great conservation success stories." He'll be sharing that story — along with photos and the history of the park's bear-management program — tonight at the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Part of the park's Lyceum series, Gunther's program begins at 7 p.m. at Happy Days Lodge. Cost is $6 for adults and $3 for children 3 to 12. Advance sales are available by phone. Find more info on the website. — Elaine T. Cicora

500 West Streetsboro Rd., Peninsula, 330-657-2909,

Party Like It's 1399

Joust, Jest, and Juggle at Trinity Cathedral

With its stone arches, soaring ceiling, and stained-glass windows, downtown's Trinity Cathedral is a Gothic-style gem. "Clear out the chairs and light some candles, and it's really quite medieval," says the gregarious Todd Wilson, an internationally renowned concert organist and Trinity's director of music and worship. Wilson should know: He's the man behind this weekend's annual Medieval Feasts, two nights replete with period food, drink, music, and entertainment. "It's a multimedia extravaganza!" Wilson adds. "We'll have singing servers, fortune tellers, jugglers, readings from Chaucer's Canterbury Tales ... plenty of bawdy fun!" Plus, guests are encouraged to wear their finest codpieces and corsets, and dig into the munificent multi-course banquet with their bare hands. It's the 30th year for the popular Medieval Feasts, which serve as fund-raisers for Trinity's music and arts program. Tonight's edition begins at 6 p.m. with a wine reception in the Great Hall, followed by a procession to the banquet in the cathedral's nave; cost is $50. It all happens again tomorrow night, when tickets go for $60. Snag yours by phone or online. — Cicora

2230 Euclid Ave., 216-774-0420,

Funny Stuff

Time Again for Last Call Cleveland

The attention-starved members of comedy troupe Last Call Cleveland — Aaron McBride, Mark McKenzie, Mike Polk, and Matt Zitelli — are back at the 14th Street Theatre with their newest show, Lake Erie Time Machine. Other than betting the machine is fueled by the troupe's usual hodgepodge of sketch comedy, songs, videos, and audience interaction, we actually know very little about the show. Still, given the giggles provided by earlier opuses — Last Call Cleveland Saves Cleveland and Michael Stanley Superstar among them — this one should be at least as amusing as staying at home and changing the kitty litter. (No offense to Macduff, star of Mike Polk's hilarious "I'm a Stupid Cat" video.) Tonight's show starts at 7:30 p.m. Surprisingly, additional performances are set for January 20 and 21. Tickets are $12 in advance or $15 at the door. Get 'em by phone, online, or at the Playhouse Square ticket office. Visit for additional insights. — Cicora

2037 East 14th St., 216-241-6000,

Saturday | 21

Indie Night

Music and a Movie at Sachsenheim Hall

Maybe you missed the Cleveland-made Long Way to Oblivion at last year's Cleveland International Film Fest? If so, you'll have eight more chances to see it this weekend — and come away with a free download of the soundtrack. Your admission ($5 to $7 depending on showtime) gets you into an evening performance by local bands featured on that soundtrack — including Filmstrip, Good Morning Valentine, and Kid Tested — and also scores you a free Helen Keller shot, the significance of which will become clear after you see the movie. Written, directed, and co-produced by Shawn C. Mishak (a 2008 Cleveland State grad and Kid Tested member), the 58-minute film tells the story of a creature in human form who crash-lands in Cleveland and is abducted by a band of not-very-successful musicians. No, it's not a comedy, although Mishak says it does have its funny moments. "Technically, it is a tragedy," he says, "but it views like a docudrama." Today's shows are set for 2, 3:15, 4:30, 5:45, and 7:45 p.m. More showings happen tomorrow. It all takes place at the venerable Sachsenheim Hall on Cleveland's West Side. Mishak says a Facebook page should be up soon. — Cicora

7001 Denison Ave., 216-651-0888.

Sunday| 22

Happy 100th, Shaker Heights

How a City Takes Shape

Shaker Heights celebrates its 100th anniversary this year, and the Shaker Historical Society is marking the occasion with a series of recently opened exhibits. They tell the city's history as well as the story of its founding brothers: Oris Paxton and Mantis James Van Sweringen. "The more I learned about the Van Sweringens, the more amazed I became at their accomplishments," says curator Ann Cicarella, who rattles off just a few of their coups: the Terminal Tower, the Rapid Transit system, and, of course, Shaker Heights, the first planned community in the nation. "And they did it all with an eighth-grade education!" The first exhibit — a permanent one, mounted through 2012 — focuses on the brothers. It's supplemented by four rotating exhibits covering the city's history in 25-year increments. The first, marking the years 1905 through 1930, remains on display through March 30. Among the many items on exhibit, you'll find photos, videos, some of the brothers' personal effects, and one of the original scale models of the Terminal Tower. "We've got everything from Hathaway Brown bloomers to ornate grills from the Terminal Tower," says Cicarella. "It's been a blast to pull this all together." Today's hours are 2 to 5 p.m. Admission is $4 for adults and $2 for kids ages 6 to 18. — Cicora

16740 South Park Blvd., Shaker Heights, 216-921-1201,

Family Fun

Dragon Music in Hudson

Since 2008, members of the Cleveland Chinese Music Ensemble have been introducing area audiences to captivating Chinese melodies performed on traditional string and wind instruments. Today, they'll be making a stop at the Hudson library, where they'll give a free recital in honor of the Lunar New Year. Along with soprano Xue "Snow" Yu of Shandong, China, the six-member ensemble will be performing New Year's music on bamboo flutes, fiddles, oboe, mouth organ, lute, and zither — including several songs specifically in honor of this year's namesake, the dragon. No tickets or reservations are required; just show up at 3 p.m. in the library rotunda. — Cicora

96 Library St., Hudson, 330-653-6658,

Monday| 23

Kid Stuff

Max and Annie's Mastermind Goes on Tour

When it comes to finding a story to tell, inspiration is all around us. Take Chagrin Falls author and educational specialist Sandy Philipson: She found her literary muse in the form of her dog, Annie. At the age of 9, Annie lost her leg to cancer. "Watching her recover and seeing how she concentrated on what she could do — not what she lost — was inspirational," says Philipson. "She was what led me to start writing these books." By "these books," she's referring to the eight volumes in her Max and Annie series, aimed at kids in kindergarten through fifth grade. The first, Annie Loses Her Leg But Finds Her Way, teaches a gentle lesson in how to successfully cope with a physical disability. It does that so well, in fact, that the military routinely gives a copy of the book to kids of servicemen and women who have suffered amputations. But the books also serve as inspiration for kids to find their own stories. Together with illustrator Jenny Campbell, Philipson has visited more than 450 schools delivering that message; in coming weeks, she'll be blitzing Cleveland Heights' elementary schools as part of that program. Tonight, though, she's making a free appearance at the Lee Road branch of the Heights Libraries; time is 6:30 p.m. Annie has passed away, but spaniels Tak and Ollie will be there. — Cicora

2345 Lee Rd., Cleveland Heights, 216-932-3600,

Tuesday | 24

Fit for Foodies

Cheers to Old Friends

Tonight's dinner at Flour is all about wine, but it's also about friendship and renewing old bonds. So says chef-owner Paul Minnillo, who's bringing in special guest Gary Lipper, owner of Napa Valley's Coho Winery, for Flour's very first wine fête. "Gary was the main bartender at our Greenhouse restaurant (formerly on the corner of Adelbert and Murray Hill, in Little Italy)," Minnillo chuckles. "It was a hugely busy bar, and Gary was quite the, uh, ladies guy! He ended up marrying a waitress, Sheila Barry, and then decided he wanted to get into the wine business." That decision took the guy that Minnillo describes as a "bon vivant, ski bum, and cellar rat" to England, where he was in charge of Robert Mondavi's European wine sales. On his return to the states, Lipper worked for Napa's Kendall-Jackson. "And now he's got this acclaimed winery, and he's doing really well," says his former boss. "It makes me feel kind of funny!" In Lipper's honor, Minnillo and chef Matt Mytro have crafted a five-course dinner designed to highlight some of Coho's reds. Among the courses: duck confit paired with a Russian River Pinot Noir, lamb osso bucco with Coho's Headwaters (a Cab-Merlot blend), and assorted Italian cheeses with a Summit Vine Cab. Reservations are $95. Tax and tip are extra, but the bonhomie is free. — Cicora

34205 Chagrin Blvd., Moreland Hills, 216-464-3700,

Wednesday | 25

DJ Night

... Meanwhile, Over at the Happy Dog Basement ...

Synth player John Elliot will be spinning tunes at Underdog tonight, and if his previous turns as a DJ are any measure, it could be an evening filled with a tasty but idiosyncratic mix of prog rock, trance, and psychedelia. No surprise there, since Elliot is an integral part of one of Scene's favorite Cleveland trios, Emeralds, which we've previously sucked up to by saying they "create distant worlds that erupt in nebulous synthesizers, droning guitars, dreamy vocals, and dense atmospherics." Elliot himself has labeled Emeralds' ambient electro as sounding "like music from a dream ... both hopeful and at times dismal" — just in case that gives you an idea of where his head is at. In any case, you can hear what he's into tonight beginning at 9:30 p.m. in the Underdog, a new hangout in the Happy Dog basement that projects the elegant vibe of your cousin's rec room. If you like what you hear, you can catch Elliot every other Wednesday through February 29. There's no cover. Meantime, check out the Happy Dog Facebook page for a link to one of Elliot's earlier mixes. — Cicora

5801 Detroit Ave., 216-651-9474,

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