Category Archives: Arts and Entertainment

The 39th Cleveland International Film Festival: My Kind of March Madness

CIFF Image

For sports fans, March Madness means another thrilling college hoops tournament. But for fans of Cleveland and film, March brings its own brand of excitement: the annual arrival of the Cleveland International Film Festival.

As much as I love Saint Patrick’s Day, CIFF is tops on my March must-do list.

The festival opens tonight with an Opening Gala that includes a screening of I’ll See You In My Dreams featuring Blythe Danner, Sam Elliott, Rhea Perlman and many other amazing actors. It’s a star-filled way to celebrate the festival and cinema.

Over the course of the 39th festival, which runs through March 29, 190+ feature films and 220+ short films from 60 countries will be screened.

Although the festival’s main hub is at Tower City, films will be screened all over the area. A few of the 11 neighborhood screening locations include Chagrin Cinemas in Chagrin Falls, the Cleveland Museum of Art’s Gartner Auditorium, and The Nightlight in Akron.

There are films for every interest. In addition to their main program, this year’s festival continues to present a selection of “sidebars” or themed film groupings focused around Pan-Asian Films, Focus on Disabilities, Family Films,  African Diaspora, Cinema en Espanol and many other topics.

One of the films in the Women of the World sidebar and two of the festival’s competitions is Semicolon; The Adventures of Ostomy Girl.

It features Dana, a 25-year-old woman who was diagnosed at age four with Crohn’s disease. It follows her and her mother as they travel between their home in Las Vegas and the Cleveland Clinic. Instead of viewing all of the surgeries, medications and close encounters with death as a tragedy, Dana tells her story with a grin and a sharp sense of humor.

To quote the film description: “SEMICOLON; THE ADVENTURES OF OSTOMY GIRL is not a story of disease and decay. This is a story of defiance and determination. Prepare to lose your heart as well as your inhibitions about not laughing at ‘certain things.’ Dana will teach you the meaning of courage, along with the value of a really good poop joke!”

With so many films to choose from, deciding what to do during CIFF can be overwhelming. Especially if it’s your first year. However, CIFF’s Film Guide, their website (www.clevelandfilm.org) and social media (@CIFF and Cleveland International Film Festival on Facebook are just two) are excellent places to start. 

Fresh Water Cleveland also asked veteran festival goers like Eat Drink Cleveland what advice they’d give attendees. It’s a must-read.

Once you have an idea about which films you want to see, you can buy tickets online. Tickets are available for purchase online until 11 PM on the day before a screening. You may also purchase tickets by phone (877.304.3456) or in person at the Film Festival Box Office in the lobby of Tower City Cinemas.

Day-of tickets are only available for purchase in person at the Film Festival Box Office.

While you’re at it, head over to USA TODAY to vote for the Cleveland International Film Festival as the best film festival in the U.S.

The contest is part of USA TODAY’s 10Best Readers’ Choice travel awards and CIFF needs your help. Vote for them today and every day (one vote per person per day) through Monday, April 13th to show your support. It only takes two clicks: 10best.com/awards/travel/best-film-festival.

See you at the movies!

Scott and I Jump Back to the Future at PlayhouseSquare’s #JBB24

As a longtime Back to the Future fanatic, Scott freaked out when this year’s Jump Back Ball theme was announced. The guy knew what his costume was going to be almost immediately. Because of this and because I’m chair of PlayhouseSquare Partners, the group that organizes Jump Back Ball each year, I figured a recap’s better coming from him than me.  After reading it, I was right. Enjoy!

Yeah. That happened.

Yeah. That happened.

Last month I partied like it was 2015.

And 1955.

And 1985.

And 1885.

If you’re like me, those years immediately bring forth one thought: Marty McFly’s adventures through time in the Back To The Future trilogy. Since its release, Back To The Future and its sequels have had a huge impact on me, and are three of my favorite films.

So, when the actual year 2015 rolled around, I couldn’t have been more pleased that PlayhouseSquare Partners didn’t waste the opportunity to celebrate Doc Brown’s time traveling DeLorean in style with the 24th Annual Jump Back Ball. It was, appropriately enough, entitled Jump Back To The Future.

Back To The Future movies encompass a wide range of time periods and settings, and I was extremely pleased that they were all captured throughout the party. The movies began in 1985, so it was only right that the evening’s starting place – the Connor Palace’s VIP Area – had 80s themed centerpieces, complete with flip-up shades and Rubik’s Cubes. The radical atmosphere was complemented by Driftwood’s delicious calamari, ice cream, and various bruschetta. Outside the theatre was a DeLorean that begged to be posed with (See above.).

I took that Rubik's Cube. It's mine now. And the colors are hopelessly mixed up.

I took that Rubik’s Cube. It’s mine now. And the colors are hopelessly mixed up.

1955, the year Doc Brown invented time travel while Marty’s parents fell in love, was perfectly encapsulated on the State Theatre stage. Jump Back’s version of the Enchantment Under The Sea dance was beautiful, with floating sea life, an ocean backdrop, and an ice sculptor bar. We were treated to a wonderful dinner by Chef Chris Hodgson, enjoying our champagne-complemented meal in the theatre seats before be-bopping it up on stage, daddy-o, with a 50s themed band. The singer came out amongst the dancers and had some great rapport, and when the sound blew out for a short time they began singing to people for birthdays and anniversaries.

The State Theatre Stage on Jump Back Ball set up day and during the party

The State Theatre Stage on Jump Back Ball set up day and during the party

1885’s Old West was spread throughout the party. Many of the bars were themed as saloons (featuring LaBatt’s Bourbon Barrel Ale samples). A locomotive engine, complete with smoking smoke stack, greeted the partiers as they entered through the State Lobby.

It was smoking at the party. I had to tattle on it.

It was smoking at the party. I had to tattle on it.

Back to the Future’s take on our current year had little touches spread throughout the party. Hoverboards floated behind the card dealers, a JAWS 19 poster was hung, and Mr. Fusions were ready to accept anyone’s trash.

Even the alternate timeline of 1985a was covered by Biff’s Casino in the State Theatre Mezzanine’s table games area.

As the evening drew to a close, a variety of partiers, Martys, Doc Browns, Biffs, and Jennifers from all time periods came together in the State Theatre Lobby to close out the night with music from our own 2015.

After 24 Jump Back Ball,s you’d think the process would be stale. I haven’t been doing it that long, but each year I’ve come in to find a group of people who just could not be more excited to make the next one happen. The challenges of the decor excite them, even when the task is overwhelming – like making a train engine that smokes. The enthusiasm — it, too, is overwhelming.

When all the building, and coordinating, and priming is done, then the party starts. It is so much fun to come in every year and see what people have worn. Even people who had nothing to do with the preparation show up in incredible outfits because they want to do something different and enjoy themselves.

Somebody had a highly-detailed hoverboard strapped to their back. Others showed up with glowing neon piping. Others were in complete Old West regalia. And you know what, if you were in a suit or a dress and just having a great time oooing and aweing at what other people wore, you were just as much in the spirit of things as anyone else.

It takes a special kind of party to let people do that. To just show up and let yourself find the fun in an evening. So yes, I am certainly proud of the decorations and details that had sweat and inspiration poured into them. I’m always eager for the food, and the drink, and the music.

But what makes Jump Back Ball great, even after 24 of them, are the excited attitudes of the people who show up to have a good time in a beautiful Cleveland landmark.

And as long as that keeps happening, I’ll always be happy to attend.

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Disclosure: We were offered one ticket to Jump Back Ball in exchange for previewing and recapping the event. Amanda is also the co-chair of PlayhouseSquare Partners, the group that organizes Jump Back Ball each year. Opinions here are 100% Scott’s.

A Must-See in CLE: The Magic of PIPPIN at PlayhouseSquare

The Cast of the National Touring Production of PIPPIN, at PlayhouseSquare through Feb. 15. Credit Terry Shapiro

The Cast of the National Touring Production of PIPPIN, at PlayhouseSquare through Feb. 15. Credit Terry Shapiro

How many times have you watched a play, attended a concert or seen a painting and left inspired to take on greatness?

Art is magical in the way it fills us with the desire to pursue glory, revolt against whatever’s holding us back, and love with every inch of our body.

PIPPIN now playing at PlayhouseSquare until February 15, brings that magic to the stage in one of the most thrilling productions I’ve ever experienced.

As the curtain rises (well, in the case of this show, drops with a grand flourish), the Leading Player entices the audience to hear the tale of Charlemagne’s son Pippin.

Fresh out of university, Pippin doesn’t want to lead the sedentary life of a scholar. I’ve got to be where my spirit can run free. Got to find my corner of the sky,” he sings.

Lured from home by the Leading Player, Pippin tries his hand at battle, revolution, politics, and a lot of loving. But with each, he remains unsatisified. 

When he stumbles into ordinary life, he’s torn between his desire to pursue his daydreams and the comforts of a quiet family. It’s a struggle that resonates with all of us, and I wish I could go back in time to tell 20-year-old Amanda to see it.

Sam Lips as Pippin. Photo Credit Martha Rial

Sam Lips as Pippin. Photo Credit Martha Rial

The Leading Player and Pippin are brought to life in this production by Sasha Allen and Sam Lips, respectively.

Fans of The Voice and Camp will recognize Allen’s dynamic voice and magnetic stage presence. She’s perfect as the production’s ringleader. Lips, who understudied the role in the Broadway company, does a very convincing job of transforming Pippin from spastic, unsure teenager to a more settled (but at times, still conflicted) adult.  

However, as incredibly entertaining as Allen and Lips are – especially when on stage together, the performance that will stick with you long after the curtain is drawn is the Leading Player’s circus troupe.

From stunning acrobatics to showstopping musical numbers like No Time at All (beautifully sung — upside down on a trapeze! — by Priscilla Lopez) , the performances left my jaw on the floor. The trapeze work, stunts, and illusions the cast creates are worth the ticket price alone. In fact, describing them would ruin that magic.

Sasha Allen as Leading Player and the cast of the National Tour of PIPPIN. Credit Terry Shapiro

Sasha Allen as Leading Player and the cast of the National Tour of PIPPIN. Credit Terry Shapiro

After a fiery grand finale that left me breathless and a bit choked up, there’s no surprise that PIPPIN won Best Musical Revival at the Tonys and in my heart.

Run to PlayhouseSquare and see PIPPIN before it swings out of Cleveland. Tickets are going very fast and only a few performances remain. You really don’t want to miss it.

Disclosure: I was invited to attend the opening night of PIPPIN with a guest in exchange for sharing my experience. All opinions are 100% my own.

Giveaway: Win 2 Tickets to Cleveland International Film Festival’s Get Shorty Film Feast

CIFF39

UPDATE: Congratulations, entry #34 – Megan Kilway! Random.org’s generator selected you as the winner of this giveaway. Please reply to my email by January 26 at noon ET to confirm you can still attend.

CIFF Winner

The thawing of ice, the sound of chirping birds, the return of the Cleveland International Film Festival. These are all signs that spring has come to Cleveland.

As much as I’ll welcome the warmer weather, I think that CIFF is the sign of spring I’m most excited for.

If you haven’t been to the festival before, here’s a post I wrote a couple of years ago about it.

If you have been, you’re probably saying to yourself: “But, CIFF39 doesn’t start til March. We still have two, long winter months to get through.”

And you’d be right. The 39th Annual Cleveland Film Festival runs March 18 – 29, when 350+ films will take over Tower City Cinemas. (Even better — some of this year’s screenings will be coming to a neighborhood venue near you like the Beachland Ballroom, Cedar Lee Theatre, Chagrin Cinemas, the Akron Art Museum and more.)

However, although the festival is a couple of months away, you and a friend have the chance to enjoy an evening of films and food on January 29th for free!

On January 29 at 7pm, CIFF will host the Get Shorty Film Feast at the Capitol Theatre, and I have a pair of tickets to give away.

CIFF’s Film Feasts are a series of parties to celebrate the arts, cultivate new film buffs, and help raise money for the festival.

Get Shorty is an extra special (and one of the most popular) feasts because it gives you the chance to help program some of the short films that will play at the 39th CIFF.

That’s right: During Get Shorty, CIFF will screen a selection of short films; audience members will cast their vote for each; and the top scorers will be screened at the festival in March. 

And don’t worry about doing all of that “work” on an empty stomach. Before the screenings, Culinary Occasions will be serving food and drinks at the Arcade next door.

Tickets to Get Shorty are $100 each and available at clevelandfilm.org/support-us/film-feasts/get-shorty; however, you can enter my giveaway to win two free tickets to the party!

There are 5 Easy Ways to Enter the Giveaway
**Do one, some or all of the entries. Separate comments needed for each.**

1) What’s your favorite film? Leave a comment on this post with your pick.

2) Follow @CIFF and @ADHicken on Twitter and leave one comment on this post telling me you did both.

3) If you’re a fan of Clue Into Cleveland and Cleveland International Film Festival on Facebook, leave one comment on this blog post letting me know. If you’re not yet a fan, you can become one here and here.

4) Tweet the following and leave one comment letting me know you tweeted:

Enter @ADHicken’s giveaway for tix to the Get Shorty film feast & help @CIFF pick the short films they’ll show http://wp.me/p2Ukr0-2D7 #CLE

You can tweet once per day for additional entries. Just leave a separate comment each time you tweet.

5) Subscribe to Clue Into Cleveland via a feed tracker like Bloglovin’ or Feedly and leave one comment letting me know you did. This can also include signing up to receive email notifications in the top-right “Subscribe” section of this page.

You have until Friday, January 23 at 11:59PM to enter. On Saturday, January 24, I will select a winner using Random.org and will announce the winner’s name on my blog.  Remember to leave a separate comment for each entry – good luck!

Disclosure: I was offered complimentary tickets to Get Shorty in exchange for hosting a giveaway. My opinions are 100% my own.

Jump Back to the Future: PlayhouseSquare Partners’ #JBB24 Ticket Kickoff Party

PlayhouseSquare Partners' Jump Back Ball 24: Jump Back to the Future

The Back to the Future trilogy has a very soft spot in my heart.

Like most kids from the 80s, I watched the first Back to the Future a zillion times growing up. I don’t know whether it was my penchant for only listening to oldies music, but the Earth Angel scene was the one that stuck with me the most. The film also instilled in me a life-long obsession with Christopher Lloyd.

For some reason, though, I never saw the second installment and only a few scenes from the third on tv. So, when Scott and I started dating, he decided to remedy this.

For our first of many road-trips together, Scott bought a portable dvd player (this was before we could stream or rent movies on our tablet) and loaded it with the full trilogy. As we drove through the night, Scott and I watched the three films, back to back to back.

Back to the Future is also the reason I ended up joining PlayhouseSquare Partners when PlayhouseSquare showed it during their Cinema at the Square Young Professionals Night. I met Dawn and Robert, that year’s Membership Chairs, at the happy hour beforehand and that was it. I was hooked.

Five years later, I’m co-chairing the Partners board. So it’s sort of fitting that this year PlayhouseSquare Partners is jumping back to the future.

Of course that’s not the reason Jump Back to the Future is the 24th annual Jump Back Ball’s theme. In all honesty, I found out the theme the same time as everyone else. This is one reason why, though:

Screenshot from Back to the Future 2

Screenshot from Back to the Future 2

Yep, the future that Marty and Doc jump to in Back to the Future 2 is 2015.

For one night, you can pretend that time-traveling DeLoreans and hoverboards do exist. (Actually, a hoverboard of sorts is currently being Kickstarted.)

This year’s Jump Back Ball is taking place February 28, 2015 at PlayhouseSquare. While it’s still a few months away, you’ll want to get your tickets at the Ticket Kickoff Party on November 10.

Last year’s Jump Back Ball sold out in only 10 days – breaking another record for ticket sales for this event. So if you don’t want to miss this year’s Jump Back Ball, you need to get your tickets right away. Here’s the scoop on how.

Jump Back to the Future Ticket Kickoff

When? Monday, November 10 from 5:30-7:30pm

Where? Hofbräuhaus Cleveland (1550 Chester Ave.)

How much? $130 for Partners* and $165 for Non-Partners, a portion of which is tax deductible. Ticket prices increase by $15 plus handling fees the next day, so save the most at the Kickoff Party.

How many? Ticket limits will apply at the event. Non-Partners can purchase two tickets per person. Partners* can purchase two tickets at the Partners price and two at the Non-Partners price per membership.

Learn more about the Kickoff Party: facebook.com/events/1462714320674361

What’s all the fuss about? Read my recap of last year’s Jump Back Ball to find out.

*If your current membership expires before Jump Back Ball, renew on or before November 10 to be eligible for discounted tickets.

PlayhouseSquare Partners is also partnering with the Hunger Network of Greater Cleveland at this year’s Kickoff Party.

Bring a new, unused personal care item to do be donated to Hunger Network of Greater Cleveland and be entered into a raffle to win an overnight stay at the Wyndham the night of Jump Back Ball, a VIP upgrade for yourself and a guest, and loge tickets to upcoming performances at PlayhouseSquare.

Here’s a suggested list of items to donate:

  • Toilet paper
  • Paper towels
  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Soap
  • Toothpaste
  • Toothbrushes
  • Lotion

So, join me at the Hofbräuhaus on November 10 because once Jump Back Ball sells out, there’s no time machine to take you back.

Disclosure: I am a co-chair of this year’s PlayhouseSquare Partners board. I’m also a blogger for the event, offered one complimentary ticket in exchange for blogging about and purchasing a ticket to Jump Back Ball.

Giveaway: Halloween Fun for Everyone at Cedar Point’s #HalloWeekends

Enter to win 4 tickets to Cedar Point's Halloweekends (good through November 2)

Enter to win 4 tickets to Cedar Point’s HalloWeekends (good through November 2)

UPDATE: We have a giveaway winner! After tallying up the entries, removing two duplicates, and placing the remaining total into Random.org, congratulations to entry #54 – All Lacquered Up! You’ve won a family 4-pack of tickets to Cedar Point. Please reply to my email by Wednesday at 5pm confirming you can attend.

Halloweekends Giveaway Winner

When it comes to Halloween, it can be difficult to find one place that makes everyone happy.

Sure, there are some places that do family-friendly fun exceptionally well. And there are other places that can put a fright in the bravest of souls. But excelling at one usually happens at the expense of the other.

That’s not a problem with Cedar Point’s HalloWeekends. Just like the amusement park’s regular offerings, their HalloWeekends festivities offer something for everyone.

The monsters come out to play at Halloweekends

The monsters come out to play at HalloWeekends

Scott and I made back-to-back trips to Cedar Point this past weekend (thank god for season passes) – Saturday was spent exploring Cedar Point with Scott, his mom and grandmother, while Sunday was spent rollercoastering and haunted housing with Scott.

And over the two days, there was not a moment where we weren’t having a blast. In fact, we’ll probably find an excuse to make use of our season passes one more time before the season ends Nov 2.

Here are 5 reasons why:

Unlock More Haunts: Cedar Point’s 5 haunted houses and 6 Scare Zones have always been fantastic, usually worth the wait in line. However, a new feature for this year’s Fright Lane pass had me purchasing one on Sunday’s visit to the park.  In addition to front-of-line access to all haunted houses, Fright Lane gets you a skeleton key that unlocks a secret room in each house.

Each Skeleton Key room offered an experience that preyed on a different fear – we got plenty of scares out of it and even a few laughs. Scott’s and my favorite room was at Boeckling’s Estate, followed by Cedar Point’s newest haunted house Hexed. Fright Lane costs vary depending on the day you’re going to the park.

Dine in a haunted house at Cedar Point's Boeckling's Banquet

Dine in a haunted house at Cedar Point’s Boeckling’s Banquet

Dinner with Ghouls: Boeckling’s Banquet at Cedar Point has been a longtime favorite of Scott’s and mine. Dining inside of a haunted house on delicious lobster tail, perfectly cooked filet, and a unique Halloween-themed dessert? Who wouldn’t miss that? This year’s was the perfect way to celebrate Scott’s birthday with his mom and grandmom. If you’re looking for a one-of-a-kind Halloween experience, Boeckling’s Banquet is worth a look.

Midway Monster Invasion: Every Saturday and Sunday at 5pm, the Cedar Point midway is taken over by monsters …. friendly monsters! It doesn’t matter what age you are, Cedar Point’s Midway Monster Invasion will put a smile on your face and a bob in your step as you dance along to the parade music.

The Peanuts make an appearance in Cedar Point's Midway Monster Invasion

The Peanuts make an appearance in Cedar Point’s Midway Monster Invasion

Take in a Show: The Cleveland-based music group Midnight Syndicate has come to Cedar Point for their first live performance ever. Known for their gothic horror instrumentals, Midnight Syndicate has put together a performance that blends music, theatrics and film. After experiencing it for ourselves, Scott and I definitely found ourselves in the Halloween mood. Another must-see is the cirque-style Skeleton Crew on Celebration Plaza. I’m not always one for big outdoor shows, but I really enjoyed it.

Entertainment you make yourself: Often the best moments are the fun you make for yourself: From posing with all of the incredible decorations throughout the park…

Scott sees into his future, and his future doesn't like what's looking back

Scott sees into his future, and his future doesn’t like what’s looking back

…to grabbing a beer or glass of wine at the Trail Tavern and watching a scare zone unfold in front of us from the comfort of the Tavern’s front porch.

On top of all of the Halloween fun, there are the rollercoasters, bumper cars, merry-go-rounds, and other entertainment that make up every visit to Cedar Point.

There are only a few weekends left to enjoy this year’s HalloWeekends, which runs Friday-Sunday through November 2nd. But you can enter my HalloWeekends giveaway today and win a family four-pack of one-day tickets good for one of the final two weekends.

There are 5 Easy Ways to Enter the Giveaway
**Do one, some or all five of the entries. Separate comment’s needed for each.**

Please note: This giveaway runs til Oct. 20 and tickets are for this year’s HalloWeekends only, which ends Nov. 2, 2014.

1) What’s your favorite thing about HalloWeekends? If you haven’t been to HalloWeekends yet, what are you most excited to do? Leave a comment on this post with your pick.

2) Follow @CedarPoint and @ADHicken on Twitter and leave one comment on this post telling me you did both.

3) If you’re a fan of Clue Into Cleveland and Cedar Point on Facebook, leave one comment on this blog post letting me know. If you’re not yet a fan, you can become one here and here.

4) Tweet the following and leave one comment letting me know you tweeted:

Scare up some fun at @CedarPoint’s #HalloWeekends. Enter @ADHicken’s giveaway for a family four-pack of tickets: http://wp.me/p2Ukr0-2BN

You can tweet once per day for additional entries. Just leave a separate comment each time you tweet.

5) Subscribe to Clue Into Cleveland via a feed tracker like Bloglovin’ or Feedly and leave one comment letting me know you did. This can also include signing up to receive email notifications in the top-right “Subscribe” section of this page.

You have until Monday, October 20 at 11:59PM to enter. On Tuesday, October 21, I will select a winner using Random.org and will announce the winner’s name on my blog.  Remember to leave a separate comment for each entry – good luck!

Disclosure: I was offered complimentary tickets to Cedar Point; however, as a Platinum Season Passholder, I did not need them. I was also offered the opportunity to host this giveaway. My opinions on Cedar Point are and always have been my own.

#PartnersCLE Free Tailgate Party at PlayhouseSquare

Blogkeeping: Without further ado, we have a Taste of the Browns giveaway winner!

TOB Winner

After checking all of the entries and removing two pingbacks plus several duplicate entries, the winner as selected by Random.org is Cheryl Scheckel. Congratulations! 

If you didn’t win, I have another way you can celebrate the return of football to Cleveland … and this party is free for everyone!

PlayhouseSquare Partners' Season KickOff Party: Enjoy a tailgate followed by outdoor showing of Draft Day

PlayhouseSquare Partners’ Season KickOff Party: Enjoy a tailgate followed by outdoor showing of Draft Day

Join PlayhouseSquare Partners, the theatre district’s young professionals organization, for a Season KickOff Party and Movie this Friday night.

At dusk on September 12, PlayhouseSquare will be showing Draft Day out on the U.S. Bank Plaza. The movie’s free and part of PlayhouseSquare’s Summer Movie Series presented by Elk & Elk.

Our pre-movie kickoff will take place 5:30-8:30pm in the Idea Center’s Gund studio space on Euclid Ave. The tailgate-themed party includes:

  • A Chipotle Buffet
  • Cash Bar (First drink on us!)
  • Ice Cream Bars
  • DJ Playing Music
  • and Cornhole and Other Tailgate Games

PlayhouseSquare Partners will also be there with tables and information for each of our committees and upcoming activities.

Best of all, everyone who attends the party will be the first to find out what this year’s Jump Back Ball theme is. (I’m on the board and I won’t even find out til then!)

It’s free to attend the Partners KickOff Party, and if you decide to join Partners at this event, you’ll also receive 20% off a new Partners membership (excluding Balcony’s Best $50 membership).

Just RSVP for the party by emailing sarah@playhousesquare.org. See you Friday!

Disclaimer: I’m a co-chair of PlayhouseSquare Partners’ board and involved in the hosting of the movie’s Tailgate Party.

Great Lakes Science Center Brews Up After-Dark Fun

I promised Scott another evening of me being the designated driver and he promised me another sonnet after the response to last week’s blog post. Enjoy!

Even without the Great Lakes Science Center's Beer Goggles, their Home Brew event was a lot of fun

Even without the Great Lakes Science Center’s Beer Goggles, their Home Brew event was a lot of fun

I am a big fan of the Great Lakes Science Center. Every time I go I have a great time. It’s an awesome space filled with experiments and exhibits that consistently entertain and educate me.

We’ve always enjoyed Yuri’s Night, so Amanda and I were very excited to learn the Science Center was continuing their events for the 21+ crowd will Science After Dark: Home Brew.

Home Brew, which took place a couple weeks ago, focused on the science behind brewing beer and coffee.

After settling in, our first stop was a presentation from Paul Benner and Reed Jaskula of The Cleveland Brew Shop. (Correction: Amanda’s first stop was the presentation, mine was for glasses of mead.)

I hadn’t expected the science and story of yeast (The Workhorse of Beer!) to be as entertaining as they made it, but hilarious drawings and a great dynamic made it a lot of fun.

Tremble before the terror of Yeast! Kill it! KILL IT WITH FIRE!

Tremble before the terror of Yeast! Kill it! KILL IT WITH FIRE!

After Paul and Reed wrapped up we stayed for Arthur Gugick’s presentation on Calculus and the Coliseum, an amazing presentation on the math used to create from-scratch LEGO art pieces and monuments. Mr. Gugick is the local Cleveland artist/genius whose work is highlighted as part of the Science Center’s LEGO exhibit.

Minds are about to be blown...into little LEGO shaped pieces.

Minds are about to be blown…into little LEGO shaped pieces.

I love LEGO and the temporary (now through September 7th) LEGO displays were something that I was really looking forward to seeing. I had no idea that a significant portion of the Science Center’s lower exhibit hall was going to be dedicated to landmarks, paintings, and other fantastical works all created by Mr. Gugick.

After thoroughly amazing us with the talent and creativity portrayed in his presentation, Amanda and I were energized to begin our exploration of the Science Center’s other entertainment and imbibements.

Regarding drinks, Amanda was the designated driver and quite enjoyed (and appreciated) Phoenix Coffee’s options. I tried a few wines, beers, and meads, but ultimately my favorite was Sunshine Daydream by Fat Head’s Brewery. It was light and crisp and quite a pleasant surprise!

Beverages are easy to pick favorites from, but I would be very hard-pressed to pick out my favorite activity from the evening’s selections. The Science Center really outdid itself.

The first one we encountered was the Make-It-Yourself Miniature Golf, where all the holes were fashioned from reclaimed and recycled material. All you needed was some duct tape, your imagination, and a couple extra hands and you had your own mini golf hole!

By the time Amanda and I arrived there were already quite a few constructed, so we concentrated on trying out other people’s creations.

I call this "Action Shot Amanda"

I call this “Action Shot Amanda”

We also stumbled (figuratively) across Beer Goggle Cornhole, where you wore goggles that simulated the wobbly vision of inebriation. We didn’t actually play much cornhole with them, but it was fun trying to walk straight lines with the great lake view before us.

Next we found the LEGO Daredevil High-wire Challenge…or it could have been named something else very similar, it’s hard remembering certain details after a few cups of beer! But it was a lot of fun creating a LEGO machine that could make it from the third floor to the second without falling from the wire. Mine smashed to pieces when it reached the bottom, but I still made it the whole way!

Another awesome part of the night was the Tabletop Cleveland area and creating our own board game pieces. Amanda and I put together our little monstrosities and then took part in the evolving board game. If you had to hop on one leg in order to gain points equivalent to Pi, you landed on my challenge. Sorry.

My Cleveland Tabletop board game piece - Mustachio Baseball Bat and Pirate Bunny Drinking in a Rocket Ship - sits next to my bare-bones but uber-functional high-wire LEGO device.

My Cleveland Tabletop board game piece – Mustachio Sword and Pirate Bunny Drinking in a Rocket Ship – sits next to my bare-bones but uber-functional high-wire LEGO device.

As the evening began to near its end Amanda and I made our way down to the LEGO exhibit. It really is inspiring. I’m not even going to bother trying to describe the detail, wonder, and skill that is captured throughout both Mr. Gugick’s works and the traveling exhibit.

It is incredible – and fun – and should absolutely be checked out before it leaves on September 7th.

LEGOs. Aw yeah.

LEGOs. Aw yeah.

As with my last entry I had also threatened promised to include a review a la sonnet, so here goes:

Great Lakes Science Center is quite a place,
Three stories of discovery await.
You will use the thinker behind your face,
Fun for the family, and even a date!

Science After Dark is really inspired,
Get out and learn with a drop of some brew.
With all that there is, your brain will not tire,
There’s so many sciences waiting for you!

Cleveland Brew Shop made yeast science funny.
Tabletop Cleveland brought fun you could make.
The Fat Head’s beer was really quite sunny,
Phoenix Coffee kept Amanda awake!

For a memory that is sure to stick,
Check out the LEGOs by Arthur Gugick!

Disclaimers: 

  • I am much happier with the rhymes in this sonnet. I thought that was worth you knowing. 
  • Amanda was offered tickets to attend Science After Dark in exchange for blogging about it. I got her second ticket because if she hadn’t let me go with her I would have whined like a sad puppy dog for well over a week. The decision to attend and post about an event is her own, based on whether she thinks it’s something that may also interest others.
  • My decision to blog about the event was actually my own this time. Because LEGO.

Twilight at the Zoo: Why It’s a Cleveland Summer Must-Do

The mayflies have come and gone and the July 4th holiday is here. In the Hicken house, this means it’s time to start making plans for the rest of summer.

I don’t care what else I do between now and September — Twilight at the Zoo is my big must-do for this summer.

TWI_general admission party2

After scheduling conflicts kept us from going in previous years, Scott and I made sure last summer’s Twilight at the Zoo stayed open on our calendar.

And it seemed as if the gods would smile upon us for an evening of outdoor music and summer drinking … until the rains came. And, boy, did they come.

But you know what? Despite getting drenched and only seeing a few of the bands perform, Scott and I had a fantastic time with our friends. Plus we had a reason to buy matching safari hats.

(I tell myself that we needed something to keep the rain out of our eyes, but the real reason is that we love safari hats.)

I also got this awesome photo with WhyCLE’s husband:

Twilight at the Zoo rainstorm

The evening was one of the highlights of last summer, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed for good weather on August 1, the date of this year’s Twilight at the Zoo.

From 7pm til midnight, stages will be staggered through the Zoo, featuring 18 local bands.

There will be something to satisfy every musical taste – funk to folk, rock to reggae. This year’s bands include:

TWI_general admission party

General admission tickets, which cost $80 per person or $700 for a block of 10, also include free Sam Adams beer, Twisted Tea, wine and soda and a selection of small bites to eat.

Upgrade to VIP tickets ($150 per ticket/$1200 for block of 10) and get access to the VIP party from 6-9pm.  VIP partygoers enjoy priority parking and early entry, an open bar, and catering by AMP150, Carrabba’s, Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Mitchell’s Fish Market. 

And don’t drink and drive: Arrange for a designated driver or book one of the Zoo’s hotel/ticket packages with the Cleveland Airport Marriott.

Purchase tickets online or go here for more information.

One other thing … if you’re planning on getting tickets, get them now. This event usually sells out, and if this year’s Date Night at the Zoovies is any indication (sold out yesterday for an August 22 event), Twilight tickets may be gone sooner than later.

Hope to see you there! I’ll be packing safari hat just in case.

Disclosure: I was invited to attend Twilight at the Zoo with a guest, in exchange for promoting the event. Opinions are 100% my own and based on attending last year’s Twilight.

Intoxicating Pairings: Cleveland Beer Events for Those Who Like to Learn, Laugh or Draw

I’ve been on the road the past week, so this bit of blogkeeping is belated. Congratulations to Elizabeth P for winning 2 tickets to the Tri-C JazzFest!

Scott and me celebrating his birthday at a beer and comic books event

One of my favorite beer pairing events was Great Lakes Brewing Company’s comic books and beer night

When I hear the phrase “beer pairings,” my thoughts – as yours probably do – immediately go to beer and food. From cheese and chocolate to bacon, seafood, and sushi.

However, this post is not about that kind of pairing. (If you’re here looking for that, save the date for Cleveland Beer Week 2014 October 10-18, which promises to be full of great food and beer events.)

Instead, I’m talking today about beer paired with some unexpected activities. From comedy to science to art, here are 3 upcoming events if you’d like to do something different while drinking your favorite pint.

Science After Dark - Home Brew

Did you miss Great Lakes Science Center’s Yuri’s Night? I have good news for you:

This Thursday, June 26, GLSC is continuing their series of 21-and-over ‘Science After Dark’ events with HOME BREW from 6:30-9:30 pm.

  • Do you know what happens to beer when you take away air pressure? Witness it firsthand when the Science Center staff tests it out with different kinds of brews. 
  • Want to learn about home brewing? Meet Paul and Reed from Cleveland Brew Shop at their “Yeast: The Workhorse of Beer” demonstration.
  • Ever wondered, as I have, why your speech sounds funny after you start drinking? Dr. Amee Shah of CSU’s Speech Acoustics & Perception Lab will discuss your brain on booze.

There will also be hands-on activities including LEGO-building and science board and card games created by Cleveland Institute of Art students. Or you can try creating a putt-putt golf hole using everyday materials.

And, of course, beer and coffee samples from Fat Head’s Brewery, Crafted Artisan Meadery, Jackie O’ Brewery, Great Lakes Brewing Company, and Phoenix Coffee will be available.·

Tickets are $18 in advance/$21 at the door (only $12 for members). Buy tickets online here or call 216-621-2400.

CLEVELAND DRINK AND DRAW

Avengers Artists, Assemble!”

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a professional, amateur, or completely-out-of-practice artist like me. Join the Cleveland Drink & Draw Social Club at one of their twice-monthly meetups. They’re at Great Lakes Brewing Company the first Wednesday and Lava Lounge the third Thursday of every month.

That means the next one is July 2nd in GLBC’s Rockefeller Room (7-11pm).

Started in 2012 by the Rust Belt Monster Collective, the Drink & Draw Social Club is “a place to exchange techniques, build contacts, and most importantly; bond over what is far too often a solitary passion.”

All you have to do is bring your art supplies. Every event also includes group “jam pieces” and prizes from long-time supporters Carol And John’s Comic shop. 

brewhahalogo

Not into science or art? Well, everyone likes to laugh.

On July 10, the Greater Cleveland Food Bank’s YP Pantry group will be hosting the inaugural BrewHaha – Lager and Laughs for Hunger Relief.

From 6-9pm at the Food Bank’s distribution center, enjoy the talents of Last Call Cleveland and local comedians Josh Womack, Mary Santora, and Jake Solomon while sampling beer from Chardon BrewWorks, Great Lakes, Market Garden, Willoughby Brewing Company, Platform Beer Company, Deschutes Brewery and others.

The comedy show will be hosted by the always-hilarious Bill Squire, co-host of the Alan Cox Show and live music will be provided by Newshoes.  

Individual tickets are $25, which includes 20 samples of beer in a souvenir beer tasting glass and the evening’s entertainment. Tickets for two are discounted at $45 and designated drivers can enjoy water, non-alcoholic beverages and all of the performances for only $10. Get them here.

All proceeds from the evening go to benefit the Greater Cleveland Food Bank’s mission to provide food to those in need.

***

I hope you check out at least one of, if not all of these events. The Cleveland beer scene is incredible, and it’s exciting to see the city not just embrace it, but do so in such eclectic ways.

Disclosure: I was invited to attend the Great Lakes Science Center’s HOME BREW with a guest. I also used to be on the YP Pantry board. However, I chose to blog about these events independently of those decisions and the opinions are 100% mine.