Stephen Elliott claims that today's Operation Ohio assembly, where famous writers encourage folks to vote, is "officially a non-partisan event." Yet its organizer (and the author of the political tome Looking Forward to It) quickly adds, "Find an intelligent, literary [person] who is in favor of George Bush. I'm not even sure that person exists." This afternoon's gathering includes appearances by Dan Chaon and Jonathan Ames. They'll read from their works and sign people up to receive a reminder phone call (from writers like Dave Eggers and Rick Moody) to get out there and do their duty on election day. It starts at 2:30 p.m. at Cleveland State University, 2121 Euclid Avenue. Admission is free; call 216-687-2000.
Friday, October 1
We're not exactly sure what huge-coiffed '80s soft-rocker Richard Marx has to do with strudel, sauerkraut, and bratwurst; nonetheless, he's headlining this weekend's Midwest Oktoberfest. The Zoppe Family Circus will be there, too, as will Bavarian-themed music performed by the Polka Family Band, the Frank Moravick Band, and the Hank Haller Ensemble. Of course, kegs and kegs of cold brew and tasty Germanic eats are the real draw here. Get ready to roll out the barrels at Tower City Amphitheater (351 Canal Road) from 5 to 11 p.m. today, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. tomorrow, and 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $6, kids under 12 get in free; call 440-247-4386.
Saturday, October 2
The Cleveland Botanical Garden sure looks pretty this time of year. And its month-long Fall for the Garden celebration, kicking off this weekend, is taking full advantage of all the changing colors and falling leaves by setting up seasonal activities that range from stuffing scarecrows to making and tasting cider. All this, plus A Festival of Scarecrows exhibit. Fall for the Garden runs through October 31 at the Cleveland Botanical Garden, 11030 East Boulevard. It's open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Admission is $7, $3 for kids. For more information, call 216-721-1600.
More than two dozen galleries from across the country contribute to this weekend's Fine Print Fair. It's the 20th anniversary of the area's largest print exhibition, and more than five centuries of drawings and photographs are represented. Up for grabs, at a range of prices, are modernist prints, woodcuts, African American drawings, contemporary Japanese works, and avant-garde photography. It runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. today and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. tomorrow at Myers University Club, 3813 Euclid Avenue. Tickets are $8, $4 for students hoping to add some class to their dorm rooms. Visit www.clevelandart.org/printclubcleveland for more info.
Sunday, October 3
Great Lakes Brewing Company throws one of the city's best Browns parties. The huge plasma screens certainly deliver the action, but it's all the other stuff that keeps us glued to our stools: daylong happy-hour prices, prize giveaways, and food specials. And when the Browns play at home (as they do today at 1 p.m. against the Washington Redskins), a ticket stub gets you 10 percent off your bill if you show up after the game. It kicks off at noon at Great Lakes Brewing Company, 2516 Market Avenue. Admission is free; call 216-771-4404.
Monday, October 4
Yasujiro Ozu's films are slow, deliberate, and poetic slices of life. The six-week Ozu retrospective at the Cinematheque includes 15 of his movies, including the 1949 gem Late Spring, about a widower and his unmarried daughter. The sad, touching study of devotion and sacrifice is prime Ozu. The film plays at the Cleveland Cinematheque (11141 East Boulevard) at 7 tonight and at 9:15 p.m. Saturday, October 9. A lecture follows tonight's screening; admission is $10. It's $8 to get into Saturday's showing; call 216-421-7450.
Tuesday, October 5
Photographer Linda Butler didn't set out to merely capture displaced people in her exhibit Yangtze Remembered: The River Beneath the Lake; she also wanted to document a region that was being erased from the map (the Three Gorges section is now submerged under a reservoir). "The culture is so fascinating," she says. "Some of it is very modern, some of it is very primitive, and some of it is quite ancient. The adventure of just pulling it all together was a great experience." Butler took eight trips to China between 2000 and 2003, staying in villages Americans hadn't visited in more than 50 years and getting to know residents of an outdated area that's slowly developing into a modern city. "A lot of my work has been in the realm of preserving things," she explains. "But it's usually more of a theoretical preservation. This is a situation where it's really going to be gone." Yangtze Remembered is at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History (1 Wade Oval Drive) through January 2. It's open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Admission to the museum is $7, $3.50 for kids. Call 216-231-4600 for more info.
Wednesday, October 6
Okay, now we're starting to get a little freaked out. First, there's the Botanical Garden's scarecrow exhibition (see Saturday). And today's the start of Fall for the Circle -- Five Days of Fun in University Circle . . . which includes more than three dozen 10-foot-tall scarecrows positioned throughout the area. Creepy stuff. More soothing are all the music, performances, exhibits, and hands-on activities taking place in celebration of the season. The fest runs through Sunday, October 10, at various University Circle institutions (including the Children's Museum of Cleveland, the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, and the Cleveland Museum of Art). Most events start at 11 a.m.; admission is free. For a complete schedule, call 216-707-5033.