You'd expect the Cuyahoga County Library to take action around Banned Books Week, and that it has: It's created exhibits, on view at branches across town, that detail the historical and political significance of the thousands of books challenged or barred by a group or state over the past 25 years. There's a list of suggested titles, as well as public readings of books by Maya Angelou (I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings), Harper Lee (To Kill a Mockingbird), and The Lord (the Bible) over the next couple of days. Little ones can get in on the subversive fun, too, with a reading of Little Red Riding Hood. Call 216-398-1800 or visit www.cuyahogalibrary.org for more information.
What Ken Burns's PBS series did for jazz a couple of years back, Martin Scorsese hopes to do for its gritty brethren in the documentary The Blues. The seven-part show premieres on PBS this weekend, but the Akron Art Museum is holding a free screening of a special 110-minute compilation tonight. The teaser, originally assembled for this year's Sundance Film Festival, won't be shown anywhere else. The Blues, executive-produced and presented by Scorsese, features the blues ruminations of filmmakers from Clint Eastwood to Mike Figgis to Wim Wenders. Tonight's exclusive showing includes dissertations on everyone from old-school bluesman Robert Johnson to modern practitioner Keb' Mo'. The Blues shows at 7 p.m. at the Akron Art Museum (70 East Market Street in Akron). Call 800-554-4549 to reserve free tickets and for more information. (To learn more about The Blues, see Music.)
Friday, September 26
Bobcat Goldthwait was a screaming bundle of neuroses in the late '80s. He's since calmed down a bit, and he's been all over the place recently: in theaters (he plays a bellboy in Grind), in record stores (his new CD, I Don't Mean to Insult You, But You Look Like Bobcat Goldthwait, just came out), and soon on TV (he's co-hosting Jimmy Kimmel Live in two weeks and has a Comedy Central special on tap for mid-October). He's also on the road, bringing his stand-up act to the Improv (2000 Sycamore Street) this weekend. Show times are 8 and 10:15 tonight, 7:15 and 9:30 p.m. tomorrow, and 8 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $18 and $20, available by calling 216-696-4677.
Saturday, September 27
The literary broadside The2ndHand is a sporadically published 'zine teeming with short stories and poetry, a bristly creative outlet for some of the country's most promising writers. "There are a lot of good writers doing experimental and zany work," says founder Todd Dills. "I have an intense like for what I'm putting out." The Chicago publication, which features a mix of confessional drama and witty ramblings, just released its 12th issue. Chicago writers Paul A. Toth, Jeb Gleason-Allured, Eric Graf, and Susannah Felts join Dills at a Mac's Backs reading tonight. "We try to keep it lively," Dills says. "We don't really memorize our pieces. It's more humorous than serious." The2ndHand reading takes place at 7 p.m. at Mac's Backs Paperbacks (1820 Coventry Road in Cleveland Heights). Admission is free. Call 216-321-2665 for more information.
Sunday, September 28
Good Charlotte has enjoyed quite a run since its second album, Young and the Hopeless, was released 12 months ago. The band's mascara-smeared mugs have been plastered on TV (Saturday Night Live, the NFL's season kickoff concert), magazine covers (Rolling Stone), and online (they recently earned an MTV Viewer's Choice Award). The overexposure's paying off: Young and the Hopeless has gone double platinum, and the pop-punks are still on the road, making new, young converts daily. Good Charlotte is at Tower City Amphitheater (351 Canal Road) at 7 tonight. The Living End and Something Corporate open. Tickets are $25 and $28, available by calling 216-241-5555.
Monday, September 29
Apparently, "The Sky Is Falling" this autumn, and the history museum's planetarium has proof. Summer constellations are dipping, the harvest moon is settling, and the full shadow of earth can be seen on the moon this year. "The Sky Is Falling" takes you straight into the heart-pounding action. The program runs through the end of October at the Shafran Planetarium at the Museum of Natural History (1 Wade Oval Drive). Show times are 2:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10:30 a.m., 12:30, 2, and 4 p.m. Saturday, and 12:30, 2, and 4 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $3.50 to $6.50 (on top of the museum's $4 to $7 admission). Call 216-231-4600 for more information.
Tuesday, September 30
Tonight's StarGayz event at Grid-n-Orbit fires up the TVs for a communal viewing of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, the Bravo network's hit makeover show. The Fab Five's antics make for fine solo viewing, but they're even better among friends. After the show, a talent contest -- singing, dancing, stripping -- takes over the club. Queer Eye airs at 10 p.m. at the Grid-n-Orbit Nightclub (1437 Saint Clair Avenue). Admission is free. Call 216-623-0113 for more info.
Wednesday, October 1
The Cleveland Artists Foundation's Beyond Reality: Ohio Artists After Surrealism is rooted in fantasy and folklore. "Much of this stuff is bizarre, funny, and sardonic," explains curator Elizabeth McClelland. "But everything is so different. There isn't a particular theme or content or style." The show consists of 50 works -- mostly paintings and sculptures of human-animal hybrids and other oddities -- by three generations of avant-garde artists. They basically are surrealists; they just happened to have arrived a few years after the style faded. "No one's really looked at this stuff," McClelland says. "It's a wider aspect than surrealism. The surrealists couldn't really do what they wanted to." Beyond Reality is at the Cleveland Artists Foundation (17801 Detroit Avenue in Lakewood) through November 29. It's open 1:30 to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Admission is free. Call 216-227-9507 for more information.