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Fresh-picked events for the week

Thursday | 21

At Hilarities

Ralphie May Saves Cleveland

Ralphie May has the solution to all of Cleveland's problems: "You need to get the mayor to change the name to Lake Awesome," he says. "Everyone would want to come to a lake named Awesome!" May says he has nothing but love for our town: everything from Slyman's corned beef to the homeless folks who make him wonder: Is "Can I have two dollars?" the unofficial Cleveland motto? Besides his girth, May may be best known for his second-place finish on the first season of Last Comic Standing, May will be at Hilarities tonight through Saturday, July 23. Although his set promises to be controversial — with topics ranging from race and the "N" word to Bin Laden and gays in the military — he also swears it will make you laugh. "You'll get your money's worth. Not many people can promise that, but I do." Ticket prices start at $25; snag them at pickwickandfrolic.com or by calling 216-736-4242. Hilarities is at 2035 East Fourth St. — Max Hayden

Food for Fitties

Pedal into Deagan's for Discounted Dining

When most people hear "bike night," they think hogs, leather, and heavy metal. But the folks at Deagan's Kitchen & Bar in Lakewood have something different in mind: a Thursday-night price break for anyone who rides to dinner on a bicycle. Specifically, pedal pushers get a 15-percent discount on their food and drink, along with a chance to win a shiny new Raleigh Detour Deluxe from Century Cycles. It's a sweet deal: This $820 commuter bike comes decked out with front and rear lights, fenders for mud-free duds, a rear rack, and a bell. The more Thursdays you peddle in, the more chances you have to win: It's every fit foodie's dream! Bike Night begins at 5 p.m. on Thursdays through October 13. For more information, visit deagans.com, centurycycles.com, or call 216-767-5775. Deagan's is at 14810 Detroit Ave. in Lakewood. — Lydia Munnell

Friday | 22

Irish Culture Fest

Erin Go Bragh in Berea

Tonight marks the launch of the 29th annual Irish Cultural Festival at the Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds — and 'tis a fun-packed time to be sure. From this evening's performance by the New Barleycorn to Sunday morning's celebration of mass, the festival promises to be a rousing blend of traditional music, dance, drink, and food, with tasty treats ranging from scones and soda bread to boxty, bangers, and fish & chips. Also on hand: a weekend's worth of Irish imports, kids' activities, and more than 200 exhibits paying homage to the culture, events, people, and places of the Emerald Isle. Music, of course, is a critical component of any self-respecting Irish fest, and with six stages and scores of performers, this one seems bound to keep your brogans tappin'. Today's festivities run from 4:30 to 11:30 p.m.; the fest continues through Sunday evening. Daily admission is $10 at the gate, and free for ages 10 and younger. For a full schedule, visit clevelandirish.org. The fairgrounds are at 164 Eastland Rd. in Berea. — Cicora

Onstage

Miss Saigon Rocks the Near West Theatre

Dismantle a heart-wrenching rock saga of love and loss, slap the lyrics onto the musical notes of a classic opera, and what do you get? Nothing less than Miss Saigon, the acclaimed rock opera opening tonight at the Near West Theatre. Adapted from Giacomo Puccini's Madame Butterfly, the award-winning show debuted on Broadway in 1991. Tonight, it opens with an all-teen cast. As for the plot: "It's about the chaos created by the Vietnam War," explains marketing director Geoff Short. "An American soldier and Vietnamese girl fall in love and are separated by the fall of Saigon. It's a classic story: love, war, and survival." Tonight's curtain rises at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $8 for adults and $6 for children, or snag a $20 Star Seat, which includes a concession coupon. Performances continue through August 7. To purchase tickets, call 216-961-6391 or head to nearwesttheatre.org. It's all happening on the third floor of St. Patrick's Club Building, 3606 Bridge Ave. in Ohio City. Parking is free. — Courtney Kerrigan

Verb Ballets

Woodstock at Cain Park

Verb Ballets returns to Cain Park tonight with a rocking bill that features two company premieres and a world debut. First up: Janis & Joe, a contemporary piece by Christopher Fleming set to the music of Janis Joplin and Joe Cocker. The company also unveils Continuum by Antonio Brown of the Bill T. Jones Dance Company. It's a world premiere and a homecoming of sorts for Brown, a Northeast Ohio native who took dance lessons at the Cleveland School of the Arts before pursuing dance at Juilliard. Wrapping up the night's bill: the company premiere of Heinz Poll's poignant Songs Without Words, set to the music of Felix Mendelssohn. First unveiled in 1982, Songs Without Words will be seen for the first time since the 1990s. "We're the first company to be granted the rights since the Ohio Ballet, so it's very special to us," says spokesman Dan Kilbane. Reserved seats are $20 in advance or $23 at the door; lawn tix are $18 in advance or $21 at the door. Snag them by calling 216-371-3000 or visit cainpark.com. The performances take place in the Evans Amphitheater, 14591 Superior Rd. in Cleveland Heights. — Cicora

Saturday | 23

It's Ale Fest Time!

Crack One (or 100) Open at Lincoln Park

Quick! You've got five hours and 100 beers: How many do you think you can sample? Make your best guess, then head out to today's Ale Fest in Tremont to confirm your theory. Back for its third year, Scene's annual brew-nanza has gained a giddy following among regional hops heads, who flock to the park for food, cornhole, volleyball, live music (this year by the 1980s recyclers the Breakfast Club), and the chance to quaff more than 100 types of beer. A teensy sampling of this year's poetically named offerings includes Dragon's Milk, Lion Stout, Raging Bitch, Bling Bling, and Bumbleberry Honey Blueberry Ale. Those suds and more — lot's more! — flow from noon to 5 p.m. in Lincoln Park. General admission is $25 in advance or $30 at the door. For tickets and more information, call 216-241-7550 or visit clevescene.com. Lincoln Park is at 1208 Starkweather Ave. in Tremont. Be sure to pack a designated driver! — Elaine T. Cicora

Arty Party

Walk All Over Waterloo

Just because summer is halfway out the door doesn't mean you have to succumb to a midseason crisis. Beginning today at 4 p.m., the Walk All Over Waterloo summer bash just may be the spark plug in your shiny red Porsche of fun. How about live music, parties, drinking, shopping, art, and a whole lot of other free stuff — all lined up along Waterloo Road? Among the attractions: The Beachland Tavern is hosting the Music Saves 7th Birthday Bash at 5 p.m.; the Second Annual Car Show revs up at 4 p.m. at the SS&W Boardwalk; and Sandinista! Art Inspired by the Music of The Clash holds an opening reception from 4 to 10 p.m. at the Zaller Gallery. Also on the bill: DJs dropping beats at Blue Arrow Records, sales in shops throughout the district, and a special cookout menu at the Beachland. The Waterloo Arts District is just 10 minutes from downtown Cleveland in the Collinwood neighborhood (just GPS it to Waterloo Road and East 156th Street). For more info, visit waterlooartsdistrict.com. — Kerrigan

Burning River Fest

Drink Up (What Else?) on Whiskey Island

Christmas comes early this weekend at the 11th annual Burning River Fest on Whiskey Island. Founded as a remembrance of the infamous 1969 Cuyahoga River fire, the fest has turned into a two-day environmentally focused bash filled with music, farm-fresh fare, and — the biggest holiday treat of all — Christmas Ale! Among the exhibitors you'll find the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, EcoWatch, and the Ohio Audubon Society. And among the 30-plus musicians on three stages you'll hear local faves like Kristine Jackson, Brian Henke, and Hey Mavis. Today's festival hours are 6 to 11 p.m.; the music and merriment continue on Sunday from 1 to 6 p.m. Admission at the gate is $10; 12 and younger are free. Proceeds benefit the Burning River Foundation, which provides resources for conservation, environmental protection, historic preservation, and a sustainable future for our waterways, so be sure to to drink up! For info, directions, and a complete schedule of activities, visit burningriverfest.org. — Hayden

Soap Box Derby

It's Downhill All the Way in Akron

Since 1935, the country's best soap box racers have come to Akron to compete for the championship title. It happens again today, as the All American Soap Box Derby World Championships take place at the Rubber City's Derby Downs, a 954-foot racing track designed specifically for derby competition. Today's races are the weekend's main event, but other attractions include a display of historic derby cars and an "Ultimate Speed" competition, where the goal is simple: Be fast or go home. The track record, incidentally, was broken during last year's competition with a time of 26.844 seconds: Thanks to race cars that have evolved from wooden carts into today's bullet-shaped, fiberglass road missiles, this is not your daddy's derby. Today's excitement runs from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at 789 Derby Downs Dr. in Akron. Admission is $5. For more info, visit AASBD.org or call 330-733-8723. — Ryan Young

Fresh Air

Peace, Love, and Tie-Dye Too

In an ocean of summer festivals, it would be easy to miss a pearl like Cleveland Metroparks' Brookstock: a Celebration of Music & Nature. And that would be too bad, since this outdoor shindig promises to jam everything you love about summer into six and a half blissful hours. We're talking live music, food, vendors, artists, kite-flying, hikes, beer, a tie-dying station, and a whole lot of beautiful views. Attendance doesn't cost a thing, and there are activities for kids all day. Bands include Blue Lunch playing Chicago-style blues and swing, JiMiller Band with old-time rock and roll, and the Beatles tribute band Abbey Road. Bring a blanket or some chairs so you can hang out all day; burgers, dogs, and other summer fare will be available for purchase. Today's fun takes place from 2 to 8:30 p.m. at the Brookside Reservation's event site off John Nagy Road. For more information, call 216-206-1000 or visit clemetparks.com. — Munnell

Sunday | 24

Sporty Stuff

A Pirate's Race for Me

Ahoy, me hearties! Yer summer opportunity for swashbuckling sports sails into Fairport Harbor's Lakefront Park this morning, as the ever-popular Pirate Triathlon makes its 19th annual return from Davy Jones' Locker. More than 400 triathletes are expected to compete in the swim, bike race, and run, but no one will be turned away. "Do not believe anything about closed registration on the website," says Brian Davis, Lake Metroparks' recreation manager. "I don't block anyone out." Indeed. "We see a lot of pirate costumes each year," he says. "It's a very friendly race, and we like to have fun with it." The gun goes off at 8 a.m. For registration info, go to lakemetroparks.com or call 440-358-7275. Fairport Harbor Lakefront Park is at 301 Huntington Beach Dr.— Phil Barnes

Funny Stuff

Bill Maher Storms the Palace

Bill Maher started doing stand-up in 1979, and even then his routine was political. "Of course, when you're 23, political humor doesn't go over so well," he laughs during a recent phone call. "You just don't have the gravitas." Today, he's loaded with gravitas, and he knows how to use it to make people laugh. "The trick is to channel the frustration and the anger, and make it a cathartic experience — both for the audience and for me!" Maher — a comic, social critic, political commentator, and host of HBO's Real Time — brings the catharsis and the gravitas to the Palace Theatre tonight at 7 p.m., and nothing will be off limits. "The only thing I don't handle is the trivial. Some comics do. But I'm only interested in talking about the things that you read on the front page of the paper." Fortunately (or not), the front page provides plenty of fodder. "It's a crazy, mixed-up country we have here," Maher says, "and sometimes the best thing we can do is laugh about it." Ticket prices range from $10 to $75. Snag 'em at 216-241-6000 or go to playhousesquare.org. The Palace is at 1615 Euclid Ave. on Playhouse Square. — Cicora

Band Concert

Barbershop Sounds Fill Lakewood

Small-town American dreams don't get more wholesome than this: Sitting in a lawn chair in a park while a barbershop chorus sends sweet harmonies into the night air. Tonight, those dreams come true as part of the Summer Band Concert series in Lakewood Park. Providing the sweet harmonies is the 70-member Tower City Barbershop Chorus, an award-winning troupe that has been performing a cappella music since 1940. Tonight's performance in the park's bandstand goes from 7 to 8:30 p.m., and taps into a repertoire that includes everything from pop classics to Broadway musical faves. Admission is free, but don't forget the lawn chairs. Lakewood Park's bandstand is at 14532 Lake Ave.; check out onelakewood.com for more info. — Hayden

Monday | 25

Smart Shopping

Summer Used Book Sale

Whether you consider them relics from another era, portals to another universe, or coasters for your coffee cups, books are nice to have around. Happily, you can load up on them by the armful today through Thursday at the Cleveland Public Library's summer used book sale. Find thousands of books, CDs, DVDs, and books on tape at prices that range from fifty cents to two bucks. The sale is open from noon to 6 p.m. today; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday; and on Thursday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. — when an entire bag o' books will set you back a mere $5. It's all happening in the lower-level lobby of the library's Louis Stokes Wing at East Sixth Street and Superior Avenue. For more info, visit friendscpl.org or call 216-623-2821. — Cicora

Kid Stuff

Go Batty in the Valley

For everything you ever wanted to know about bats — including an encounter with one of the seven species living in Ohio — head to tonight's Campfire Tales program at the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. You'll learn about topics ranging from where bats live and what they eat, to the details of the dreaded white-nose disease that's been threatening their populations. (Don't worry: Humans can't catch it.) Family activities begin at 5:30 p.m., followed by a BYO picnic by the campfire at 6:30. A bat talk starts at sundown, and a guided walk should turn up some Northern Long-Ears and Eastern Pipistrelles. It all takes place at the Ledges Shelter, off Kendall Park Road in Peninsula; call 330-657-2752 or visit nps.gov/cuva. — Young

Tuesday | 26

Big Ideas

Free Film Fest!

Tired of paying for overpriced blockbusters at your local multiplex? Tonight, try a free screening of the award-winning film Storm at the University Heights Public Library. Directed by Hans-Christian Schmid, the 2009 flick tells the story of a fictional warmonger accused of genocide, crimes against humanity, and mass rape during the Bosnian war in the early 1990s. It's part of "The World in Your Neighborhood," the library's recently launched weekly international film fest, featuring critically acclaimed foreign flicks that explore Big Topics. Each screening is followed by a discussion — something else you won't find at the multiplex. The University Heights Public Library is at 13866 Cedar Road. Tonight's show is at 6 p.m., and the series continues each Tuesday through August 30. Visit heightslibrary.org for more info. — Maile

Fit for Foodies

Fire Up at L'Albatros

The pleasures of a good cigar are deeply personal, says Brandon Chrostowski, sommelier at L'Albatros Brasserie; pair them with the rich complexity of a fine rum, and the flavors can be colossal. That's the theory behind tonight's doings on the L'Albatros patio. "I've been sourcing unique rare rums from all around the Caribbean — mostly from Martinique, a French island where spirits adhere to the same strict standards as wine and cheese in France," he tells us. "And cigar aficionado Craig Anthony has selected some very small-production cigars that will make the night a dream!" Participants at the $65 soirée get to choose two of the five cigars, which Chrostowski will custom-pair with four rums. Appetizers, a roast pig, and petite sweeties round out the menu. The fun begins at 6:15 p.m. Reservations are required at 216-791-7880, and the rain date is August 2. Find out more at albatrosbrasserie.com. The restaurant is at 11401 Bellflower Rd. in University Circle. — Cicora

Wednesday | 27

At the Maltz Museum

Al Jolson Sings Again

If you're a nascent film buff looking for somewhere to start, begin at the beginning with tonight's showing of The Jazz Singer at the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage. The first synchronized "talkie" in history, it's the story of a young man whose dream of becoming a performer conflicts with his religious upbringing. Part of the Maltz Museum's "Jewish Americans on Film" series, it begins at 7 p.m. and will be followed by a talk-back session. Tickets are $12 at the door or $10 in advance at 216-593-0575. For more information, visit maltzmuseum.org. The museum is at 2929 Richmond Rd. in Beachwood. — Munnell

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