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An expert tells you how to keep the ass-kicking to a minimum.

Ron McMillan tells you how to keep those Crucial - Confrontations under control.
  • Ron McMillan tells you how to keep those Crucial Confrontations under control.

THU 12/2

'Tis the season -- to get into shoving matches at Wal-Mart over the last Cabbage Patch Kid. To scream at the maniac in the SUV for cutting you off. And to tell your co-workers what you really think of them at the office Christmas party. Ron McMillan has a solution. The co-author of Crucial Confrontations says, "Begin the confrontation curious and puzzled, not angry or upset."

The book -- subtitled Tools for Talking About Broken Promises, Violated Expectations, and Bad Behavior -- is a how-to manual designed not only to improve relationships (with friends, family, and co-workers), but also to bend arguments in your favor. But avoidance isn't an option, says McMillan. "Dodging it virtually guarantees that the problem will continue," he says. "By avoiding it, we're lowering the standard."

Bottom line: "When it matters the very most, we do our very worst, and that's primarily because of the strong emotions [involved]. And that pushes us toward violent or aggressive behavior." McMillan will discuss all this at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Tri-C Eastern Campus, 4250 Richmond Road in Highland Hills. Admission ranges from $45 to $95; call 216-987-2000. -- Michael Gallucci

Shh . . . This Is a Library
And the guitarist is ready to rock.

SAT 12/4

Guitar guru Ryann Anderson has played at some unlikely musical venues. But his gig at Saturday's Guitar Mania may be the most unusual: a library. Anderson and mandolin player Mike Garrett will strum and share songwriting tips, while John Hill shows off his custom-made axes. In the hushed calm of a library, Anderson figures the free workshop will be a welcome respite from the usual street fair, party in the park, and café. "I've been focusing on playing in places where people actually listen," says Anderson, former guitarist for Cleveland rockers Meek and Giant Jack Johnson. "It's [better than] being known as the guy who plays in just coffee shops." Guitar Mania is at 7 p.m. in the Lakewood Public Library Main Auditorium, 15425 Detroit Avenue; call 216-226-8275. -- Cris Glaser

Black Cherry, Cherry
As good as Neil Diamond? He is . . . he said.

SAT 12/4

Four years ago, Theron Denson was fired from a West Virginia hotel for singing Neil Diamond songs too loudly. "The powers that be said I had to stop singing to the guests," he sighs. Walking back to his car, he looked up to the sky and said, "God, it's you, me, and Neil Diamond now." Since then, Denson has toured the country as the Black Diamond, the nation's premier African American Neil Diamond impersonator. Of course, the shows are always capped with "America." "My fans need to hear it now more than ever," he says. The Black Diamond plays Glory Days Waterstreet Tavern (132 South Water Street in Kent) at 9:30 p.m. Saturday. Admission is free; call 330-677-0700. -- James Renner

Justin Time

SAT 12/4

Justin Roberts has the same goofy affability as They Might Be Giants, which makes him a natural in the world of kids' music. His latest CD, Way Out, features such songs as "Humpty's at It Again" and "I Lost the Tooth I Lost" that balance springy melodies, clever wordplay, and playful instruments. He's at the Beck Center (17801 Detroit Avenue in Lakewood) at 4 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $12, $8 for kids; call 216-781-9000. -- Michael Gallucci

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