Holiday-themed Events Lead This Week's Picks

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Thursday 12.18


The Ghostly Manor in Sandusky sheds its typically ghoulish image to make merry for the holidays at the second annual Christmas Music Light Show. You can credit a Miller Lite TV spot for inspiring owners Bill and Jayme Criscione to choreograph a 75,000-light display that "dances" to five holiday carols, including "Angels We Have Heard on High" and "All I Want for Christmas." "My husband saw that commercial where the lights are synchronized to the Trans-Siberian Orchestra and he decided to learn how to do it," says Jayme. "This year, he added 50,000 more lights to make it even better."

Every evening for the next couple of weeks, the Crisciones will flip the switch on the 28-minute show every half hour. Admission is $5 per car plus a can of food, which goes to Sandusky's Victory Temple Soup Kitchen. Spectators sit in their cars, tune in their radios and watch the show. And even though the couple won't be at the house on Christmas Eve and Day, they'll waive the fee those days and let the program run on autopilot. "We're not really worried about the $5," says Criscione. "We just thought it would help us buy a few more lights for next year." The show runs from 6 to 10 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and 6 p.m. to midnight Fridays and Saturdays through Sunday, December 28, at Ghostly Manor Thrill Center & Skateworld (3319 Milan Rd. in Sandusky). Call 419.626.4467 or visit - Cris Glaser


The secret to making it as a stand-up comedian is to screw with your audience's heads. Or at least that's what Milwaukee-born funnyman Jason Russell thinks. "When you play with an audience, they think you are a svengali - like, 'Oh, my God! I don't know how you do that,'" says Russell, who plays five shows at Bogey's this weekend. "There are things that are prepared and reshaped that you just kinda pick up on. If there's a big, tall guy in the audience, you might have a big-tall-guy joke in the back of your mind."

Russell's sets include modern-day musings on everything from Barack Obama to a typical night in a gay bar. Lately, he's been tapping his African-American heritage: Blacks don't like snowstorms, he says, because they "look like Cocoa Puffs in a bowl of milk." "A new joke is like a new toy," he says. "You want to show it off. You're proud of it. You can't wait to get it in front of an audience and say, 'Look what I've got!'" Russell takes the stage at 8 tonight, and 8 and 10:30 p.m. tomorrow and Saturday, at Bogey's Comedy Club (28060 Chardon Rd. in Willoughby Hills). Tickets: $8-$15. Call 440.944.9000 or visit - P.F. Wilson


The four-member Just the Tip skeeball squad is aiming for a third straight seasonal victory tonight at the start of the Find the 40 Boozeskeeball League at Dive Bar. But Anthony Segreti and his Donnie Braskees teammates plan to stop the Tip's luck on the lanes with a little bit of lip service. "There's lots of trash talk going back and forth, like 'You're not gonna make the shot this time,'" says Segreti, who also barbacks at the club. "It gets really competitive."

The league is the brainchild of bar manager and Braskees anchor Brian Lanigan, who installed three skeeball tables in the club last April for the first "skeeson" of play. For six weeks, 25 teams of at least three players each aim for high-scoring holes. Lanigan's personal game-play strategy helped name the league. "Aim for the 40 [-point hole]," he advises. "If you do that, you're bound to score some points. It works for me."

At the end of the six-week regular season, teams will compete in two weeks of playoffs to decide the victor. The winning team will show off a two-foot-high brass-and-wood trophy at an open-bar blowout a week later. "The guys who've won it come into the bar and drink out of it," says Segreti. "Next time, it'll be our turn." The action takes place from 7 to 10 p.m. Thursdays (except Christmas and New Year's Day) through Thursday, February 13, at Dive Bar (1214 W. Sixth St.). Seasonal team fee: $60; weekly player fee: $5. Call 216.621.7827 or visit - Glaser Friday 12.19


A pair of veteran female illusionists will do their best to prove why being merry and gay can be a real drag this time of year. See for yourself tonight at Melissa Ross & Twiggy Morgan's Annual Holiday Show. "It'll be a lot of glamour, a lot of glitz," says Ross, who became the first-ever Miss Gay Cleveland in 1976. "And you'll probably see Mrs. Claus, or a version of."

With the equally alluring Morgan at her side, Ross has scripted a show of holiday songs and contests that hopefully will breathe new life into female impersonation. For too long, she says, the city's "amateurs" have been turning her weekend job into a joke, with lame lip-synching, gnarly wardrobes and sloppy make-up. "Because of it, Cleveland has not always been as receptive to the art form as other cities have," says Ross, who's a Continental Airlines flight attendant by day. "You travel two hours to Columbus and the drag queens there are revered and held in high esteem forever and ever. I want to show Cleveland that I'm not about quantity and tragic train wrecks. I'm strictly about quality." Get your drag on at 11 p.m. at Cocktails Cleveland (9208 Detroit Ave.). Admission: free. Call 216.961.3115 or visit - Glaser Saturday 12.20


The Cleveland Museum of Natural History will whisk patrons back to prehistoric times during Dino Day, which celebrates the installation of the museum's newest resident: a 36-and-a-half-foot-long cast of a Tyrannosaurus rex. Beside scavenger hunts, animal shows and Swifty the Clown twisting balloons into dinosaurs, the party will pump up the volume at 2 p.m. with a shouting match. "The kids are going to go up on the balcony above T.rex and they're going to take turns at belting out the biggest roar that they can," says public relations manger Glenda Bogar. "Our educators are very animated and great with kids. I'm sure they're going to have a lot of fun explaining what T.rex sounded like."

The new T.rex cast is based on the figure of a skeleton found in 1988 by a Montana rancher. It'll join the replica of a smaller, stockier three-horned triceratops that was installed in one of the museum's galleries last December. "The timing's great because it's going to debut just in time for the holidays, while the kids are on school break," says Bogar. "That'll give them a chance to come face to face to meet our new killer attraction." Hang with T.rex from noon to 4 p.m. at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History (1 Wade Oval Dr.). Admission: $9 ($7 for kids). Call 216.231.4600 or visit - Glaser


After weeks of fighting a stampede of holiday shoppers at the local mall, you're probably wishing for a simpler way to mark the season. Maribelle Donaldson thinks she has the answer: Christmas on the Farm, which runs for the next couple of weekends in Lorain County. "It's a wonderful way to escape urban or suburban bustle and traditional Christmas rush," she says. "It's easy to get caught up in all the commercialism. We are out in the country and a great way to escape all of that for awhile." Donaldson's Bonnie Brae Elk Farm provides the backdrop for wagon rides that take revelers to a petting area. She even throws in hot chocolate and cookies. "Being out on a wagon to feed animals is a magical time," says Donaldson. "It's fun to have these elk cows come up and eat out of your hand, and see our bull elk with their huge, hard antlers. Our animals are especially beautiful now in their furry winter coats." Wagon tours are at 10 a.m., noon, 2 and 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays through Sunday, December 28, at Bonnie Brae Elk Farm (27717 Quarry Rd. in Wellington). Admission: $10. Call 440.647.3232 or visit - Katherine Fulton Monday 12.22


Even when the snow flies, lions, tigers and bears still work hard entertaining visitors at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo's December Days. The zoo's annual winterfest lets visitors take a peek at furry, feathered and scaly friends in their natural habitats. As you ride in a heated shuttle to the park's Northern Trek exhibit, polar and grizzly bears frolic with seals and sea lions - just like they do in the Arctic! You can also warm up in Wolf Lodge and catch a view of the zoo's grey wolves. A giraffe, lion or rhino may even show up if it's not too cold outside. If it gets too frosty for you, the RainForest - where the climate rivals the Amazon's - has 600 animals and 10,000 plants you can check out. You might even see a koala at the GumLeaf Hideout. December Days runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. today through Wednesday, and Friday, December 26 through Tuesday, December 30, at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo (3900 Wildlife Way.). Admission: $6 ($4 for kids). Call 216.661.6500 or visit - Fulton

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