Howard Zinn is sorta like an old-school Michael Moore. Back in the day, Zinn -- an affable teacher and historian -- was a vocal opponent of the Vietnam War. He also was an early Civil Rights activist. In the captivating documentary Howard Zinn: You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train, his story is told through a series of vintage news clips, colleague testimonials, and readings (by Matt Damon) from his left-thinking books (including the brilliantly revisionist A People's History of the United States). It's a loving portrait of a man who refuses to sit down and be quiet. It shows at the Cleveland Cinematheque (11141 East Boulevard) at 9:15 tonight, 7:30 p.m. tomorrow, 7 p.m. Saturday, and 4:30 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $8; call 216-421-7450.
Friday, September 10
Wanna find out if lots of beer and high-speed amusements mix? Here's your chance. Geauga Lake's 24th annual Oktoberfest kicks off this weekend with plenty of pierogies, schnitzel, and sauerkraut. Bavarian dancers will step things up onstage, mug-sliding contests will ensue, and kegs will be ceremoniously tapped. And at Beer School, students get to taste a variety of brews and learn the histories behind them. Then it's time to hit the amusement park's signature rides, like the X-Flight, where riders lay flat and hit the loops upside down. Good times! The Oktoberfest takes place through September 19 at Geauga Lake, 1060 North Aurora Road in Aurora. Hours are 6 p.m. to midnight Friday, noon to midnight Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Admission is the usual park fee of $34.95; call 330-562-8303.
Great Lakes Theater Festival's associate artistic director Andrew May doesn't mean to disappoint audiences with its production of Julius Caesar (paired with The Importance of Being Earnest for its fall repertory), but he's prepared for the inevitable. "People always ask if we're going to have togas," he sighs. "We're staging it in modern dress. So there won't be any togas." Damn! Earnest opens tonight and runs through October 15; Julius Caesar opens September 24 and runs through October 16 at the Ohio Theatre, 1519 Euclid Avenue. Show times are 7:30 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, 1:30 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, and 3 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $20 to $45; call 216-241-6000.
Saturday, September 11
Not one, not two, but three clowns will stroll the grounds at Eagle Creek's Fall Fest Weekend. The third annual outing features the floppy-footed trio -- Whipples, QT Pie, and Jacko -- painting faces, walking on stilts, and twisting balloons into all sorts of animals. Jungle Terry will bring along some real live critters for show-and-tell, and the Hubs Square Dance Club of Bainbridge will swing their partners 'round and 'round. Food, hayrides, a petting zoo, and many, many mums, perennials, and other flowers will be on display. It all happens from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. today and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. tomorrow at Eagle Creek Garden Center, 18548 Chillicothe Road in Bainbridge. Admission is free; call 440-708-0177.
Sunday, September 12
Of the many stops on today's Come Home to Lakewood house tour, it's the rare peek at the long-closed bowling alley beneath the Winking Lizard (the building used to be the Lakewood Tennis Club) that has us totally pumped. Who knew such a thing was down there? Also on the excursion, which is sponsored by the Lakewood Historical Society, are a restored arts-and-crafts bungalow, a lakefront residence featuring leaded glass windows, and an old Victorian house. It's a quick fix of hometown history that most of us take for granted. The tour runs from 1 to 6 p.m. at various Lakewood locations. Advance tickets are available for $15 by calling 216-221-7343 and are recommended. Tickets can also be purchased today at the Nicholson House (13335 Detroit Avenue in Lakewood) for $20.
Monday, September 13
Who goes to the Cleveland Metroparks for art? You wouldn't head to MOCA for a hike, right? But the park system has four art shows happening this month, exhibiting what it knows best: nature. Art Display at CanalWay Center (off the East 49th Street entrance of Ohio & Erie Canal Reservation in Cuyahoga Heights; call 216-206-1000) gathers work by the Metroparks' John Beukemann through October 31. Myrya Johnson Art-Quilt Show includes African-inspired textiles at North Chagrin Nature Center (off the Sunset Lane entrance of North Chagrin Reservation in Mayfield Village; call 440-473-3370), while Nature Art Display at Garfield Park Nature Center (off the Broadway Avenue entrance of Garfield Park Reservation in Garfield Heights; call 216-341-3152) collects various pieces by the Western Reserve Artists Association through October 1. And opening Thursday, September 16, at Rocky River Nature Center (24000 Valley Parkway in Rocky River; call 440-734-6660) is Seasonal Scenes in Cleveland Metroparks, a self-referential photo show by Kelly Scebbi that runs through October 19. All exhibits are free and open from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.
Tuesday, September 14
What is it with Australians and their obsession with American roots music? Kasey Chambers and Keith Urban have effortlessly turned on the rustic twang. Joining the party is Anne McCue, whose rich, smoky voice steers her U.S. debut, Roll, a folk-infused, guitar-strapped affair. And the gal's audacious: She covers Jimi Hendrix's "Machine Gun" and nearly pulls it off. McCue opens for Heart at Scene Pavilion (2014 Sycamore Street) at 8 p.m. Tickets are $25 to $50; call 216-241-5555.
Wednesday, September 15
Even though The Teacher and the Student: Charles Rosenthal and Ilya Kabakov comes with a lofty premise -- fictional artists exploring Communism -- its execution can be stunning. More than 100 pieces by the real Kabakov (including paintings, drawings, and sculptures) make up the exhibit, which traces Soviet life in often surreal conditions. It's at MOCA (8501 Carnegie Avenue) through January 2. Hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Admission is $4; call 216-421-8671.