CLEVELAND CHALLENGE CUP OF BOCCEA sports club from upstate New York defends its title against 83 other teams at this weekend's Cleveland Challenge Cup of Bocce in Wickliffe. But to knock the Rochester squad from the top spot, competitors need to master the art of rolling balls. "Some of these guys never miss, and every shot is strategized," says tournament spokesman Larry Koval. "The difference between the teams that win and everybody else is that every player [on a winning team] can make any shot. Some guys are just great point shooters, or some guys are only masters at bank shots. But the great players make every shot look easy."
To mark the Challenge's silver anniversary this year, teams from as far as Ontario, North Carolina and Illinois will make the trek to the Wickliffe Italian American Club's seven-court compound for a shot at the $15,000 purse. Organizers have also added a 64-team cornhole tournament, wine-making workshop and reptile show to the schedule this year.
The fest also features an Italian cultural tent filled with food and music, including old-world tunes by Carmelina, polka standards by Joey Tomsick and classic-rock covers by Pieces of Eight. A travel agency will also be on hand to talk about how you can take your very own trip to Italy, where many club members' ancestors were born before they moved to Wickliffe in the late 1800s. "It's one of those provincial cities where a lot of people stay their whole lives," says Koval. "It's half Collinwood, half Murray Hill, where bocce is a social gathering and guys smoke cigars, catch up and get away from everything." Matches start at 6 tonight, 8 a.m. tomorrow and 9 a.m. Sunday at the Wickliffe Italian American Club, 29717 Euclid Ave. in Wickliffe. Admission is free. Visit www.wickliffeianda.com for a complete schedule. - Cris Glaser
If you ever came within arm's length of William Duncan when he lived in Northeast Ohio, odds are pretty good that you ended up in his debut crime-chiller, Six-Gun Two-Step. Find out for yourself this weekend, when he signs the book in Medina and Westlake. "Most of my earlier life was spent in Cleveland," says Duncan, a 1967 North Olmsted High School grad. "I sorta felt the story coming together there, and it made sense to me. It's based on people and places that I'm intimately familiar with. It's not exactly a one-on-one thing, but I've said to people, 'You've influenced this character.'"
The story starts in Cleveland, where a twentysomething heroin addict collides with a Central American drug cartel. The guy skips town to a Florida beach house with a $1 million stash of dope, which leaves his left-behind family members looking over their shoulders. Guilt ultimately consumes him, and he returns home to confront the gang. "My mother said, 'Why did you write a book about crime and drugs?'" says Duncan, who moved to North Carolina in 2000, after he retired. "I guess I just have a pretty good imagination."After graduating from Bowling Green State University with a journalism degree, Duncan set aside a news-reporting career after a buddy recommended him for a job with a medical-supply sales firm. "His boss was a vice president, and he said, 'Oh! Wouldn't it be fun to have a journalist in the office to write my memos?'" laughs Duncan. "I got into it thinking it would be temporary, but it turned into a career. The discipline transferred well to fiction." Duncan signs his book from 6 to 8 tonight at Borders Books, 4927 Grande Shops Ave. in Medina (330.723.8270) and 1 to 3 p.m. tomorrow at Borders Books, 30121 Detroit Rd. in Westlake (440.892.7667). Visit www.borders.com for details. - Glaser
DRUM FANTASY CAMP
Steve Smith looks back on his seven years as Journey's drummer as a fluke. While he helped shape the rock quintet's success in the early '80s on hit albums like Escape and Frontiers, the Massachusetts native has always thought of himself as a jazzman. "I was playing jazz, fusion and big-band music well before Journey," says Smith, whose Cleveland concert tonight helps kick off the second annual Drum Fantasy Camp. "People knew me from that band, but Journey was the odd situation. I liked my rock music, but I've always considered myself a jazz drummer."
Along with Chick Corea's drummer Dave Weckl and band promoter Steve Orkin, Smith founded the drum clinic last summer as a tribute to the famed Stan Kenton jazz camps in Boston, which Smith attended as a teen in the early '70s. The trio chose New Jersey's Seton Hall University for their inaugural camp, in which nearly 200 drummers from as far as the Falkland Islands learned how to keep the beat to traditional Caribbean, African and Indian tunes. But the campus had its flaws. "We were isolated," says Smith, who was named one of the "25 best drummers of all time" by Modern Drummer magazine. "Even though the camp was a great success, it didn't have a great music facility. To make it more of a success, we found a good facility in Cleveland to go to classes, have some food and hang out afterward to play and listen to music."
Over the course of five days, students will perform for instructors like Latin drummer Horacio "El Negro" Hernandez, Tony Royster Jr. (who's played with Jay-Z) and Indian percussionist Ganesh Kumar. Cleveland native Jamey Haddad will also dish out some advice. "I don't think it'll be as harsh as American Idol, but it'll be in the spirit of what we can do to make you a better musician," says Smith. "That is fantastic feedback into helping you clarify who you are as a musician." Tonight's concert starts at 7 at the Forum Conference Center, 1375 E. 9th St. Tickets are $35. Call 440.498.3395 or visit www.drumfantasycamp.com. - Glaser
LAKE ERIE ISLAND FEST
Be sure to look for VB Pimp among all the volleyball and cornhole players at today's Lake Erie Island Fest. He'll be the one hooking up contestants. Organizer Andy Zamborsky has managed to make love connections for several couples - including himself - over the past 20 years. "Everybody parties together, plays together," he says. "It's one big, happy family. It's like tailgating with a Mardi Gras atmosphere."
The tournament has attracted as many as 250 teams to play on Middle Bass Island's grass field. With five-team divisions in nine skill levels, the two squads with the best records in each group will eventually compete for a $310 first-place prize. Zamborsky encourages players to dress up - like, say, as lobsters or hot dogs - to get in the spirit. "I was thinking about me with five girls in these pimped-out short-shorts," says Zamborsky, who's a tech manager for Continental Airlines when he's not playing competitive volleyball. "With the girls I play with, we could probably win."
If you don't want to compete, you can set up camp and watch the matches while acoustic duo Joe & Jay strum all afternoon. "There are people who bring out deep fryers and have this big spread of food and huge tents to make it an all-day party," says Zamborsky. "I'm just a people person. It's all about fun, man, and keeping the sport going." The matches start at 9 this morning across the street from St. Hazard's Waterfront Resort, 1223 Fox Rd. on Middle Bass Island. Entry fee is $35; it's free to watch. Call 440.452.5067 or visit www.lakeerieislandfest.com. - Glaser
HEALTHIER EVER AFTER
Sneakers the Fitness Dragon helps fight child obesity today, when the Children's Museum of Cleveland unveils its latest exhibit, Healthier Ever After.
The "fairy-tale forest" features an interactive collection of fitness stations like Goodness Grove, where kids can eat their way through the alphabet by choosing up to nine fruits and vegetables. In the Healthier Ever After Castle, they can get their hearts pumping by climbing stairs, jumping over a bridge and raising a flag after they've finished the obstacle course. At Crocodile Crossing, a row of beams over an imaginary creek tests balancing skills, as children fend off the crocs below (don't worry; they're not real). And then there's Sneakers, whose 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. exercise sessions will have kids stretching, swaying and grooving - all to get them into shape for the first day of school. The exhibit is on display 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily through Sunday, October 5, at the Children's Museum of Cleveland, 10730 Euclid Ave. Admission is $6 for adults and $7 for kids. Call 216.791.7114 or visit www.clevelandchildrensmuseum.org. - Glaser
AQUARIUS RISINGJust like The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Brian Lawlor's Aquarius Rising encourages audience members to interact with the onscreen actors. At tonight's premiere on the patio of the Sam & Tommy's nightspot in Lake County, viewers will drink a shot every time a character drops the f-bomb. "That's how I approached the bar owners," says Lawlor, who runs Laugh at the Law Productions. "They said, 'If it's got a drinking game, we want you to be a part of it.' I said, 'Hell, yeah!'"
The 75-minute horror flick is about a small-town sheriff who recruits a cult investigator to help solve a series of ritualistic murders in a remote area that looks an awful lot like Lake County's LeRoy Township. As the story unfolds, viewers will undoubtedly get plastered. "I've never actually counted how many f-words there are," says Lawlor, who plans to take the movie on tour to any Northeast Ohio bar that's willing to show it. "But if you're going to play with shots, I guarantee you're not walking out of the bar." The screen lights up at 9 tonight at Sam & Tommy's, 1808 N. Ridge Rd. in Concord Township. Admission is free. Call 440.354.8717 or visit www.laugh-at-the-law.com for more information. - Glaser
Sunday 8.24DANCIN' IN THE STREETS
The gay Club Cleveland bathhouse picks up the bill for all the K-Y jelly that'll be in the lube-wrestling tank at today's Dancin' in the Streets, which benefits the AIDS Taskforce of Greater Cleveland.
The grease-pit free-for-all and a mechanical bull are just two of the moneymakers that have helped the block party raise more than $40,000 each year since its 2005 revamp from its original concert-venue days. While patrons pay $5 each to writhe around in lubricant and ride the bull, DJs Jerry Szoka, Rob Black, Bob Ganem and five other turntablists will spin techno and electronica in a towering booth set up in the middle of Clifton Boulevard. In the nearby Charter One parking lot, drag royalty and fetish dancers will perform on a makeshift stage. And don't bother wearing a shirt in this heat; nobody else does. The party runs from 1 to 10 p.m. today on Clifton Boulevard between West 116th and West 117th streets. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the gate. Call 216.221.2333 for details. - Glaser Monday 8.25
Whether you remember it as the Ape Drape or the Kentucky Mudflap, the mullet will take the spotlight once again at tonight's Lake County Captains minor-league baseball game against its Class-A rivals, the Hagerstown Suns. And fans of the two-dos-in-one don't need to look any further than Eastlake, where the '80s hair rage apparently hasn't gone out of style.
"It's all pure fun," says Jonathan Levey, who manages the team's graphics design department. "Fans will be put on camera if they have one."
The Mullet Madness promotion is part of the Captains' Buck Night, when a hot dog or a cup of beer costs a mere dollar. And while spectators gawk at the hairstyles, the playoff-bound Captains will play in their last home game of the season against the Suns. "The success of our promotions pretty much made this happen," says Levey. "Pure brainstorming is responsible for this original night. It should put grins on fans' faces." Let your hair down at 7:05 tonight at Classic Park, 35300 Vine St. in Eastlake. Tickets are $7 and $8. Call 440.975.8085 or visit www.captainsbaseball.com. - Chad Felton Wednesday 8.27
Comedian Robert Hawkins isn't married; he just pretends to be. And he'll tell you why this week at his string of Improv shows. "I want to be ready, because I don't want to make an abrupt transition," he says. "I put the seat down to practice. I put 100 bottles of shampoo in the tub so that I'm used to it. I take myself to movies I don't want to see. I don't even know who she is, but we're fighting."
Besides his imaginary wedded bliss, Hawkins spends part of his stand-up sets explaining why he often jumps from topic to topic. The answer is simple: He can't concentrate. "My mind wanders too much," he says. "I don't have ADD. My mind is just filled with a lot of crap." Hawkins goes onstage at 8 p.m. today and tomorrow, 8 and 10:15 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 7 p.m. Sunday at the Improv, 2000 Sycamore St. on the West Bank of the Flats. Tickets are $11 to $17. Call 216.696.4677 or visit www.clevelandimprov.com. - P.F. Wilson
Things To Do That Don't Cost a Dime
Walk+Roll: Ecomaniacs hit the pavement when Martin Luther King Boulevard shuts down for the day for walkers, bikers and boarders. Be sure to check out the new bicycle route that'll be part of the Sparx Gallery Hop of art museums in mid-September. Go fuel-free from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday at Rockefeller Park, 690 E. 88th St. Visit www.walkroll.com for details. Bat Gala: With a couple of live examples by his side, Rob Mies of the Organization for Bat Conservation dispels a few myths about the nocturnal fliers. The Cleveland Metroparks then unspools the 1989 version of Batman starring Michael Keaton, Jack Nicholson and Kim Basinger. From 5 to 11 p.m. Saturday at South Chagrin Reservation, east of SOM Center Road and State Route 91 in Bentleyville. Call 440.247.7075 or visit www.clevelandmetroparks.com.
Movies on the Mall: In an outdoor screening of Hairspray, pleasantly plump teen Tracy Turnblad teaches 1962 Baltimore a thing or two about racial integration after she lands a spot on a TV dance show. The film is courtesy of ParkWorks and the Cleveland Downtown Alliance. It starts at 8:30 p.m. Thursday on Mall B, 601 Lakeside Ave. Call 216.696.2122 or visit www.parkworks.org. Introduction to Professional Clowning: All the world loves clowns - especially if they're trained by veteran jester Robert Kreidler of the Ohio College of Clowning. Take a tour during his school's open house, where you can sign up for fall classes. Be a clown from 9:30 to 11 a.m. Saturday at Musica, 21 Maiden Ln. in Akron. Call 330.935.9460 or visit www.ohiocollegeclowningarts.com.