Indians mascot Slider already looks like an inbred Muppet. Add a tutu to that equation when he makes an appearance in The Nutty Nutcracker, the Cleveland Ballet's New Year's Eve spoof of the holiday institution. The last time they did it, in 1994, TV weatherman Don Webster beat a path through the snow scene with a snowblower, the dancing snowflakes croaked during their big number (and were carried out on stretchers), and the Energizer Bunny crashed the party scenes. Expect to see late-night movie host the Ghoul this year, too, as well as folksy TV reporter Del Donahue. Tickets range from $15 to $55--plus five bucks off admission if you mention code "SCE" (for Scene) to the man wearing the red carnation, or a ticket agent. The curtain gets stuck at 8 p.m. tonight at the State Theatre in Playhouse Square Center. For tickets, call 216-241-6000.
Whips, chains, hairshirts--get them out of mothballs for Fetish New Year's at U4ia nightclub. Bondage racks and a groping booth are among the midway attractions, while on the dance floor, a yet-to-be-named DJ will spin house music. The slow and painful cover is twenty smackers--but that includes a champagne toast and a 2 a.m. breakfast buffet. Doors open at 9 p.m. at 10630 Berea Road, 216-631-7111.
Raggedy Ann and Andy, a very large cow, and a couple of llamas on leashes will be among the dignitaries in the Merrymakers Parade tonight at First Night Akron, the city's non-alcoholic New Year's Eve blowout, now in its third year. Art, live music, and dance fill the downtown streets and then some, spilling into indoor public spaces. Among the scores of bands from blues to polka, a few stand out stylistically: Blame Mama--an electric jug band playing jazz and swing--and the Yiddishe Cup Klezmer Band, which plays swing (who doesn't?) and Yiddish theater tunes. Kids can make masks for the parade, decorate cut-out forms to pin on a clothesline installation by artist Anitra Redlefsen, and gather round a roaring fire that will slowly melt a hand-carved igloo (hence a loud crackling sound). It all starts at 3 p.m., with a balloon drop at 9 and fireworks at 11:45. To attend, you need an $8 button ($4 for children twelve and under). Call 330-762-8555 to check on availability.
1999 might already seem like one of those years, but to star-gazers, it's also one of those years: The full moon falls on New Year's Day (as it last did some thirty years ago). To commemorate the rare occasion, Cleveland Metroparks hosts a free Full Moon Hike at Lookabout Lodge in its South Chagrin Reservation. It's a casual, 1.5-mile affair, with some astronomical trivia shared along the way. Nocturnal animals, including beavers and coyotes, may make an appearance, and owls should be out, since early winter is their breeding season. Lookabout Lodge is off Miles Road between SOM Center and Chagrin River roads in Bentleyville; call 440-247-7075 for more information. The walk and subsequent campfire take place from 6:30 to 8 p.m.
The final feature by Japanese director Akira Kurosawa--the sweet and stirring Maada Dayo (No, No, Not Yet)--didn't even have an American distributor. But Kurosawa's earlier films were prototypes for American blockbusters--including Star Wars and the Clint Eastwood spaghetti western A Fistful of Dollars. Best known for his samurai movies (the sixteenth-century epic The Seven Samurai and Ran, an adaptation of King Lear), Kurosawa, who died a few months ago, was no slice-and-dice action director, but rather a painterly master comfortable with both pageantry and hilarity. Some of his tough-to-find titles will be mixed in with more familiar masterpieces for the series Remembering Akira Kurosawa at the Cleveland Museum of Art. The series starts today at 1 p.m. with Seven Samurai. Red Beard, the tale of a clinic doctor who ministers to the poor (and occasionally wields a sword), shows Sunday, January 24, at 1:30 p.m. Yoshimbo, a slapstick comedy about a samurai-for-hire on the Eastern frontier, screens Friday, January 22, at 7 p.m. Admission is $6 per film. At 11150 East Boulevard, 216-421-7340.
Cleveland's meat-and-potatoes terrain is familiar territory to blues artist Larry McRay, who left rural Arkansas when he was still a teenager and found assembly-line work at the General Motors plant in Saginaw, Michigan. The grit and gristle comes through in his workmanlike music, which has been compared to that of Albert King at his best. McRay performs at 10 p.m. at Wilbert's Bar and Grille, 1360 West 9th Street. Tickets are $10, available in advance by calling 216-241-5555.
He may have gone out with a bang, but while he was still around, President James A. Garfield kept Lawnfield, his Mentor residence, rather subdued. Wife Lucretia, who was feng shui when feng shui wasn't cool, favored Japanese-inspired floral patterns and furniture. For holiday decorations (such as those currently on exhibit in the newly renovated Garfield home), the couple set up a Christmas tree with glass ornaments and simple greenery. Owned by the Western Reserve Historical Society, Lawnfield (8095 Mentor Avenue, 440-255-8722) is open every Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. Admission is $6 adults, $4 children.
Elvis Presley, who shattered the limits of both popular music and the polyester pant suit, is all over the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. His report card, his high school diploma, even his TV with the bullet hole through the screen, are all on display at The Elvis Exhibit, a compilation of artifacts lent by Graceland and longtime manager to the King, Sam Phillips. Other highlights: the black-and-white jacket the King wore on The Ed Sullivan Show and rhinestone-studded belongings from the bloated era. The Rock Hall, at 1 Key Plaza, is open from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily (Wednesday till 9). Admission is $14.95; $11.50 for Mick Jagger and other senior citizens and children twelve and under. For more information, call 888-764-7625.
Monica Lewinsky meets the Catskills in the Fantasy Spectacular variety show, a Linda Tripp down short-term-memory lane featuring musical comedians the Shenanigans and Nathan Burton, an illusionist who flushes his lovely assistant down a giant toilet. Also headlining is Donny Ray Evins, a Nat King Cole impersonator who's big in Australia. Otherwise, there's a Las Vegas "Beautiful Girls" costume parade, a Stomp-inspired dance number, and three men in wigs masquerading as the White House Spice Girls. The ostrich feathers fly at 8 p.m. at the Carousel Dinner Theatre, 1275 East Waterloo Road in Akron. Tickets, available by calling 800-362-4100, are $24.50 for the show only and $35.50 for the show and dinner.
Winter camping--without the vamping--is the topic of a three-session workshop that starts today at the Cuyahoga Valley National Recreation Area. Park Ranger Martin Gutelius will take potential polar bears on a tour through the basics: staying warm (it's not good to use cotton as your bottom layer, since it retains moisture and can pull the heat away from your body); first aid and safety; choosing gear; and cooking. Those who manage to graduate can participate in a private campout at the park. The $10 workshop takes place today from 7 to 9 p.m. and on the following two Wednesdays. It all happens at the Happy Days Visitor Center, State Route 303 west of State Route 8; call 800-257-9477 to register.