He (finally) traded in his manual typewriter for one of those newfangled computers, but you can still hear the rattle of the old Smith-Corona in the work of Plain Dealer columnist Dick Feagler. Though most folks under forty consider him a throwback (who, under the pretense of "common sense," belittles women, minorities, the poor, and anybody who's ever harbored an independent thought), he's a throwback who can turn a damn good phrase on deadline. He'll read from and sign his latest collection of columns, Did You Read Feagler Today?, from 7 to 8 p.m. at the new Borders in Solon, 6025 Kruse Drive. Call 440-542-9480 for more information.
From the folks who brought you South Park, here's something a little meatier: Cannibal! The Musical, a lyrical look at the life and lunch of America's only convicted people-eater, Alferd Packer. Unlike other starving pioneers, who preferred their grub without a pulse, Alfie liked to bag a fresh kill from the plentiful herd of unsuspecting mountain men. South Park co-creator Trey Parker is the scrambled brains behind the effort, which was completed while he and fellow flatulater Matt Stone were still in college. Cannibal screens tonight at 8:50 at the Cleveland Cinematheque, 11141 East Boulevard, 216-421-7450. Admission is $6.
It takes about seven to tango--when you count the musicians and the dancers, all of whom will fit on one stage tonight, with no room left over for those black cardboard shoeprints. Dancers Viviana and Tioma, who teach at the International Ballet Dance Center at Carnegie Hall, perform in the traditional saloon style (Argentinian tango, like American jazz, originated in nineteenth-century bordellos), but add contemporary touches that smooth out the complex rhythms. The New York-Buenos Aires Connection, an ensemble that has performed with Yo-Yo Ma, sasses up the Latin beat with rock and jazz. At 7:30 p.m. in the Gartner Auditorium at the Cleveland Museum of Art, 11150 East Boulevard. Tickets are $20; call 216-421-7350.
Wax-paper combs and macaroni necklaces are mercifully not a part of the Family Art Classes at the Akron Art Museum, where bean-counting activities administered by browbeaten teachers are dissed in favor of actual fun ones led by artists. Adriana Russo-Caso, a sculptor influenced by circus sets, teaches this week's class, in which kids from six to twelve and their families can carve and build sculptural forms from big pieces of foam and plaster, then decorate them with iridescent paints and glitter. Russo-Caso is probably best known in the Cleveland area for her sculptures of rock and roll fans--exhibited outside the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame a few years back, they comically intermingled with the paying customers. Today's class runs from 1 to 3 p.m. at the museum, 70 East Market Street in Akron. Cost is $6 per person, with advance registration highly recommended; call 330-376-9185.
The ska's the limit--and then some--at Bossfest '99, which features bands you've probably never heard of (My 3 Scum) from places you've probably never been (Erie, Pennsylvania), as well as musical subgenres with the life span of a maggot (psychobilly). Sounds like a party! Headlining are ska purists the Slackers, along with the Articles, a Detroit band that adds punk and jazz to its oi. Cleveland's Ace and the Ragers will furnish the rockabilly/swing, and Lubricator, a punk/garage band from Kent, the yelling and screaming. Also on the bill: The Skoidats, Sax-O-Tromba, OB1, and Broadzilla. Showtime is 5 p.m. at the Agora Ballroom, 5000 Euclid Avenue, 216-241-5555. Tickets are $15.
A new roller coaster arrives at a dying amusement park--and the thrills and spills of the human condition are explored--in Fearless, a new play by Sarah Morton, one of Cleveland theater's bright lights. The bottom drops out when the coaster's scream quotient turns out to be too low--at least for ride tester Matilda Geronimo, who wrinkles the starched shirt of the design engineer, an organized-sock-drawer type named Peter. The work was honed in the Cleveland Play House's Playwrights Unit--an apprenticeship program for promising writers. "There's so much precision and math and physics involved in something that's basically designed to make you lose your mind," says Morton, referring to amusement rides, not the Playwrights Unit. Fearless will receive a staged reading today at 4 p.m. in the Studio One Theatre of the Cleveland Play House, 8500 Euclid Avenue. It's part of the Next Stage Festival, which runs weekends at the Play House through February 7. Admission is $5; call 216-795-7000.
To piece together the scattered fragments of Duke Ellington's first jazz opera, A Drum Is a Woman, the Northeast Ohio Jazz Society had to take the A-Train all over the place. Acting on a tip from a French pianist, NOJS Executive Director John Richmond found a complete score in the hands of a Harlem cabaret performer. And for the work's Cleveland premiere (actually, its first full production anywhere in forty years), he rounded up farflung performers from the original 1956 production--vocalist Joya Sherrill, trombonist Britt Woodman, and conga drummer Candido. One of Ellington's more fantastical projects, A Drum Is a Woman loosely chronicles the history of jazz through the story of a musician named Carribee Joe, a drum that turns into a sophisticate named Madam Zajj, and their trip across time, continents, and outer space. This performance inaugurates the "Everything Ellington" celebration put on by assorted Cleveland arts organizations. Showtime is 7 p.m. at Severance Hall, 11001 Euclid Avenue, 216-231-1111. Tickets are $25 and $30.
The lowly gourd gets star billing in a free, family-oriented Martin Luther King Day Celebration at the Cleveland Botanical Garden. For escaped slaves traveling the underground railroad, the versatile vegetable--also used as a water vessel and musical instrument--symbolized freedom, its shape suggesting the Big Dipper, leading to the North Star. The celebration begins at 10 a.m. with storyteller Bernadine Connelly performing a historical piece called Follow the Drinking Gourd, and at 11, the Helene Turner Chorale ensemble sings gourd-related songs. At noon, kids can decorate their own member of the squash family. Beginning at 2 p.m., the Lee Road Baptist Church Choir and the Ecumenical Disciples perform traditional and modern sacred music, including some of Dr. King's personal favorites. At 11030 East Boulevard, 216-721-1600.
Early automobile manufacturer Alexander Winton regarded James W. and William D. Packard as a couple of chumps. He didn't cotton to their silly suggestions on "improving" what he felt he had already perfected. So the Packard Brothers took their harebrained ideas back to their Warren, Ohio, home and built their own car--a luxury model that first hit the road in 1899 and fast became a status symbol in Gatsby circles. The Crawford Auto-Aviation Museum has brought in some of the rarer Packard makes--including a 1928 seven-passenger sedan (one of only seven left) and the sporty 1934 Runabout--for its Packard Centennial exhibit, which runs through the end of June. Admission is $6.50 (raccoon coats not required). At 10825 East Boulevard, 216-721-5722.
When he's not sawing through the cobwebs of one of his current projects, rocking-chair rockers Humble Pie, local guitarist Alan Greene has a more appealing gig with a three-piece electric blues band. Named the Best Guitarist in Northeast Ohio in the 1997 Scene readers poll, Greene played many years with the no-frills Mr. Stress. But now he's riffing with The Alan Greene Band, which plugs in at 9 p.m. at Wilbert's Bar and Grille, 1360 W. 9th St. Tickets are $5; call 216-771-2583.