Sarah Strohmeyer bristles when anyone brings up her stint as a Plain Dealer reporter. She worked the Lorain County courthouse beat in 1990 until an editor berated her for not asking permission to become pregnant. She quit. "I have found that newsrooms are inherently sexist warehouses," she says. "Ask any news clerk in a tight dress."
Moving to Vermont, she wrote a story about Bubbles Yablonsky, a chatty hairdresser-turned-journalist who shows up for work in leopard-print spandex, high heels, and tons of makeup. Strohmeyer just published her fourth book in the series, Bubbles a Broad. "Bubbles knows that, when it comes to public speaking, a woman can recite the dictionary, and people would applaud -- as long as the skirt is short, the top is low-cut, and the stockings fishnet," she says.
She can also solve a crime. Set in Strohmeyer's native Pennsylvania, Bubbles cracks open the murder case of a steel-plant executive who's done in by a set of cyanide-tipped fingernails. Not that the weapon of choice didn't cross Strohmeyer's mind at the PD. "Working in that newsroom was a binding experience," says Strohmeyer. "Like scar tissue." Strohmeyer signs her book at 7 p.m. Monday at Joseph-Beth Booksellers, 24519 Cedar Road in Lyndhurst. Admission is free; call 216-691-7000. -- Cris Glaser
Finally! A famous tape gets its own festival.
During this weekend's inaugural Duct Tape Festival, some lucky pop will be crowned Duct-Tape Dad of the Year. The winner was nominated via an essay contest that aimed at finding the man who uses the tape most religiously. "We have stories of tape on the rear-view mirror to fixing the hose in the laundry room," explains Heather Sefcik, spokesperson for tape-maker Henkel Consumer Adhesives. The winner also gets a perch on the Duct-Tape Float at Saturday's parade. It'll lead a caravan of marching bands and 25 floats -- each decorated with at least 60 rolls of fluorescent-colored adhesives, from Island Lime to Atomic Yellow -- through the west end of Avon. Says Sefcik of the sticky stuff, "You can take a material that has been in your garage or in your dad's toolbox and make it so interesting and unique." The fest happens from 4 to 11 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday, and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday at Veterans Memorial Park, 3701 Detroit Road in Avon. Admission is free; call 866-818-1116. -- Cris Glaser
Sex is the weapon of choice in foreign film.
The two women at the center of French director Jean-Claude Brisseau's Secret Things like to get naked. They shed their clothes at a strip club, a subway station, and the office they've maneuvered their way into. The movie is a voyeuristic study of both sexual and workplace politics. The women get off with each other often; they're even more turned on when they're manipulating the men around them. That's the film's point. When its last act takes a devilish turn (involving a smug employer), the line between villain and victim is blurred. Secret Things shows at the Cleveland Cinematheque (11141 East Boulevard) at 7:50 p.m. Thursday and 9:25 p.m. Friday. Admission is $8; call 216-421-7450. -- Michael Gallucci
Grains of Zen
And they say Jesus is big. At Sunday's Sand Buddha Meets the Lake Erie Shores, Arts Collinwood staff and volunteers will sculpt a larger-than-life likeness of the ancient teacher out of sand, while kids build castles around the imposing figure. It happens from 1 to 5 p.m. at Wildwood State Park (at the corner of East 174th Street and Lake Shore Boulevard). Admission is free. Call 216-491-1985 for more information. -- Cris Glaser