- The freaks come out at night. Saturday night, that is, for Halloween-costume contests.
In rented Robin Hood and Maid Marian garb, Michael and Candace Varner are hoping their outfits will pay for themselves Saturday night at the myriad Halloween-costume contests happening throughout downtown Cleveland. "If we miss a couple, no big deal," says Michael. "We'll just aim for the big jackpots."
Competition begins at 9 p.m. at the Beachcomber (1146 Old River Road; 216-566-9400), where judges will hand out a $250 prize. Across the street at Cleveland's Coyote (1187 Old River Road; 216-374-2455), DJs Quest and Race Bannon lead the 9:30 p.m. judging by giving away another $250 to the best "scary, naughty costume."
Get to the Warehouse District by 10 p.m., and sign up to compete for a $150 dinner-for-two package from Johnny's Little Bar (614 Frankfort Avenue; 216-861-2166). At the Blind Pig (1228 West Sixth Street; 216-621-0001), a Halloween reveler will pocket $500 at midnight. And at 1 a.m., a contestant will snag $1,000 at the Shark Club (2000 Sycamore Avenue; 216-566-7427.) "It's the one night when we can leave our two-year-old with a sitter until last call," says Candace. "On Monday night, for Halloween, we'll just stay home and pass out candy." Admission to all the clubs and bars is free. -- Cris Glaser
Burritos in the Backfield
Tequila Ranch welcomes armchair quarterbacks.
B.J. Randall turns red if you bring up UBQB (short for "You Be Quarterback"). Almost every Sunday afternoon for the past several weeks, Randall has tried to throw a football through a car tire strung from the rafters at Tequila Ranch. If the ball sails through, the thrower wins tickets to a Browns game. The 31-year-old Randall thought he was a shoo-in to score the tickets; he quarterbacked Charlevoix High School's varsity squad to Michigan's regional football playoffs in the '90s. But after a dozen tries, he's had no luck. "I could throw Hail Marys to the running back from the offense's five-yard line and still make a touchdown," he sighs. "Here, I can't get the damn ball through a hole in a tire from 20 feet away." UBQB starts at 10 a.m. at Tequila Ranch, 1229 West Sixth Street. Admission is free; call 216-566-8226. -- Cris Glaser
God's in the Details
Switchfoot plugs in, prays in private.
Switchfoot has managed to keep most of the mainstream in the dark about its Lord-lovin' ways by burying its message in extra-chunky guitar riffs and ultra-glossy production. On its fifth album, Nothing Is Sound, the San Diego quintet crams in so many hooks and in-your-face modern-rock moments, it really doesn't matter what frontman Jon Foreman's singing about. But since we brought it up . . . he keeps his thoughts oblique, never quite committing one way or another. Doesn't matter. His band's quite adept at plugging into alt-rock formula, turning every song into a fist-raising sing-along, even the ballads. Switchfoot is at House of Blues (308 Euclid Avenue) at 7 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $22.50; call 216-241-5555. -- Michael Gallucci
Gloria Steinem once called her mother "an invalid who lay in bed with eyes closed and lips moving to voices only she could hear." The Toledo native and Ms. magazine founder travels back to Ohio on Thursday to recount her mom's mental illness and her own four decades of feminism. Her lecture starts at 7:30 p.m. at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, 1 Wade Oval Drive. Tickets are $36; call 216-504-6409. -- Cris Glaser