Great Lakes Theater Sets a (Death)trap for Entertainment

Enter to win 2 tickets to Cleveland’s all-new Home and Remodeling Expo at the Cleveland Convention Center. You can tweet once a day for extra entries!

There are some weeks that make me want to crawl into bed and never come out, and I feel like the last few weeks have been that way. It got to a point by the end of last Thursday where I just couldn’t function. Stringing together a sentence that made sense was nearly impossible.

However, I finally had a chance this weekend to recharge. There are two things that help me find my way back to normal. One — relaxing in bed and reading comic books until 10:30 on a Saturday morning. And two — going to see a show.

Theatre, regardless of whether it’s a comedy, drama, musical or play, does something to lift my brain out of a funk. I think it has to do with the fact that the action is unfolding live, in the same room as me. Unlike a two dimensional movie, all of my senses are engaged at a play. The exercise of such incredible focus allows my brain to clear.

Fortunately, over the weekend, I had the opportunity to take in two great shows which I’ll discuss in two posts this week. Although very different, they each provided me with what I needed.

First up was Social Media Night at Great Lakes Theatre. It’s a fantastic program that GLT’s Audience Engagement Manager Chris Fornadel has created, inviting bloggers and active CLE tweeters to learn more about their shows.

Actors Tom Ford (left, as scheming playwright Sidney Ruhl) and Nick Steen (right, as Clifford Anderson) in Deathtrap (Photo by Roger Mastroianni)

Actors Tom Ford (left, as scheming playwright Sidney Ruhl) and Nick Steen (right, as Clifford Anderson) in Deathtrap (Photo by Roger Mastroianni)

The latest meetup was for Deathtrap, Great Lakes Theater’s current production onstage at the Hanna through March 16.

I’ve written time and again of my love for murder mysteries, and Deathtrap is one of the genre’s masterpieces. It’s not just the longest-running comic thriller on Broadway, but was also made into the 1982 film featuring Michael Caine and Christopher Reeve. However, in my 31 years, I still had never seen it.

I count myself lucky that Great Lakes’ production was my first time. Trying to figure out the twists and turns is my favorite part of a mystery, and it’s difficult to recapture that feeling on the second or third viewing/read.

And, boy, does Great Lakes’ Deathtrap have a lot of twists. In fact, with so many shockers, it’s the perfect homage to the classic whodunit.

Ford explains his scheme to actor Tracee Patterson, who plays his wife Myra Bruhl

Ford explains his scheme to actor Tracee Patterson, who plays his wife Myra Bruhl (Photo by Roger Mastroianni)

On the surface, the premise is simple: Sidney Bruhl used to be a successful Broadway playwright. However, he can’t come up with his next big hit. In fact, he’s had so many flops, the money is running out.

It’s just his luck that a former student has written a thrilling script with the potential to make lots of money. He has sent it to Sidney, looking for writing advice. Instead, Sidney hatches a plan (which may or may not include murder) to steal the script.  

Before the show, Cleveland mystery writer Les Roberts spoke about Deathtrap, murder mysteries, and his time in Cleveland. It is always a treat to hear Roberts speak and you can read a bit about his journey to Cleveland in my review of his novel Whiskey Island.

His talk was an excellent way to prepare for the show, and his comment of life imitating art (playwright Ira Levin had a series of unsuccessful plays and movies after Deathtrap) was especially interesting. 

Les Roberts talking at Great Lakes Theater's Deathtrap pre-show

Les Roberts talking at Great Lakes Theater’s Deathtrap pre-show

We got to try something new with this production’s Social Media Night: tweeting during the show. By placing us in the Hanna Theatre’s boxes, we could tweet without disrupting other audience members’ experience.

Although it was interesting to livetweet the performance, I will admit to being so engrossed in the show’s details that I didn’t tweet too often.

However, these three tweets captured my thoughts on some of the highlights:

I couldn’t find a fault with the performance. The cast and crew made excellent use of an intriguing script. And while Tom Ford as Sidney Ruhl was a treat, Tracee Patterson (Sidney’s wife), Nick Steen (Clifford), Lynn Allison (the psychic Helga Ten Dorp), and Aled Davies (Sidney’s lawyer) made up an airtight ensemble around him. It also balances the murderous mayhem with biting oneliners.

I recommend this production for anyone looking for a good laugh, a little murder, and a lot of surprise. Deathtrap runs until March 16. Purchase tickets here and use promo code GLT to receive a discount.

The season concludes with As You Like It (April 9-24) and the HANNApalooza fundraiser (June 14).  Great Lakes Theater returns in the fall with their 2014-2015 season: Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor and The Tempest, as well as Dial “M” for Murder and Les Miserables.

I’ll be back later this week with my thoughts on Theater Ninjas’ [sic].

Disclosure: I was invited to attend Deathtrap Social Media Night in exchange for tweeting or blogging about it. My opinions are 100% my own.

Giveaway: Cleveland Home and Remodeling Expo at the Downtown Cleveland Convention Center

UPDATE: After removing one pingback and one duplicate entry:

Home Expo Winner

Congratulations entry #7 – Jenny S – for winning this giveaway!

Cleveland Home and Remodeling Expo 2

Working at E9th and St. Clair, I’ve had the chance to watch the last few years’ construction on the Cleveland Convention Center from our office windows. However, while I witnessed the drastic transformation that Lakeside Avenue underwent, I still haven’t been inside.

That changes when the first-ever Cleveland Home and Remodeling Expo takes over downtown March 14-16.

Not only am I looking forward to checking out the convention center, I really want to see what this brand-new show has up its sleeve.

This expo is specifically focused on home remodeling, decor and improvement. Although it’s hosted by the same group that does the Great Big Home and Garden Show, the 2014 Cleveland Home and Remodeling Expo includes a number of different features such as:

Perrino Vignettes: Mayfield Heights’ Perrino Builders and Furniture will present idea spaces for remodeling and decorating, including kitchen renovations, a pub and wine bar, and a home theatre.

Grow Cleveland Pavilion: Stop by the Whole Foods-sponsored pavilion for tips on urban living and small-space gardening. Local organizations promoting the growth of Cleveland, area farmers markets and food sampling from Whole Foods will also be available.

Ultimate Garage: If you’ve ever seen the inside of our garage then you know we need some major help in cleaning it out. Ohio’s EncoreGarage will showcase garage organization and renovation ideas including flooring, wall-mounted custom cabinets for flexible storage, and durable all-steel organization products to store tools, bikes, sporting equipment, and gardening supplies.

CasaBubble: And because this just sounds intriguing … check out the inflatable CasaBubble, a new way to sleep under the stars without worrying about mosquitoes, pollen, allergens and humidity issues.

Casabubble 5

Ty Pennington, Rehab Addict’s Nicole Curtis, CTV design expert Ramsin Khachi and Room by Room’s Matt Fox will also present throughout the weekend.

When you’re done at the Expo, stop by the Great Lakes Science Center, Public Square, or one of downtown’s many restaurants and attractions. Need ideas? Check out this guide I put together for another convention in downtown Cleveland.

Tickets for the Cleveland Home and Remodeling Expo cost only $10 at the box office, $8 online. Save another dollar by using promo code CIC when you buy online.

I’m also giving away a pair of tickets to the event. How to enter: Do one, some, or all five of the entries. A separate comment is needed for each.

There are 5 Easy Ways to Enter the Giveaway
**You must leave a separate comment on this post for each entry**

1) Visit homeandremodelingexpo.com then leave a comment on this post with one thing you’re  excited to see at the first Cleveland Home and Remodeling Expo.

2) Follow @GreatBigShow 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 Home and Garden Events 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:

I want to win tickets to the first-ever #CLE Home + Remodeling Expo. Enter @ADHicken’s @GreatBigShow giveaway: http://wp.me/p2Ukr0-2qY

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 March 10 at 11:59 pm to enter. Random.org will select the winner, which I will announce on March 11. Remember to leave a separate comment for each entry and please note that individuals cannot win multiple Home and Remodeling Expo giveaways. Good luck!

Disclosure: I was invited to attend the Cleveland Home and Remodeling Expo with a guest in exchange for hosting a giveaway. My choice to post about this and any opinions are 100% my own.

Jump Back Ball 0023: Shaken at the State Theatre

Jump Back Ball 0023: Shaken Not Stirred

Jump Back Ball 0023 VIP Party

Glamorous women, well-attired men, martinis and gadgets. This year’s Jump Back Ball is one that would have put a smirk, if not a full-blown smile on 007′s face.

We started in the Palace Theatre lobby for the VIP party. JBB0023′s VIP sponsor was Chef Dante Boccuzzi, who wasn’t content just serving delicious food, but also impressed everyone with his playful presentation.

Seafood Salad from Dante Next Door at Jump Back Ball VIP

Dante Next Door’s Seafood Salad at the Jump Back Ball VIP party

The vegetarian sushi rolls, seafood salad with plump shrimp and scallop, and creamy polenta with tomato braised pork ragu were the highlights. Fresh ingredients and full of flavor.

However, it was little things like turning the sushi roll into a push-up pop and presenting the seafood salad in sardine cans that reminded me of the well-executed and enjoyable experiences we’ve had at his Dante Dining Group restaurants.

Ginko's sushi push-up pops at the Jump Back Ball VIP party

Ginko’s sushi push-up pops at the Jump Back Ball VIP party

In years past, I’ve filled up on food at the VIP party because I’d only want to grab a bite or two at the main event. However, one of the improvements to this year’s Jump Back Ball was a catered dinner by Driftwood and Chris Hodgson.

Every JBB guest was treated to crisp white asparagus, pieorgi, Shepherd’s Pie, and other hearty dishes, fuel for an evening of partying.

And that fuel was very much needed.

Playing Spy Hunter at Jump Back Ball

Playing Spy Hunter at Jump Back Ball

At JBB 0023, we played Spy Hunter, tore down the Berlin Wall, tested our flexibility – and sobriety – by navigating the laser gauntlet, and wrote down what we planned on doing before next year’s Jump Back Ball. “Become Batman” and “launch a comic book company” were my and Scott’s answers. Unfortunately, I think only one of those will happen before next February.

While our dance moves may not have been the best, the flutes of champagnes and various other cocktails helped (or at least made me care less). The champagne bar was my other favorite addition to this year’s Jump Back Ball and one I hope becomes a more permanent fixture.

Hitting the dance floor is made better by these ladies and a glass of bubbly

These ladies and a glass of bubbly are two ways to make my dance moves much better

Although the main stage band Your Villain My Hero was enjoyable, we really rocked out with Pop Rocks who played out the rest of the evening in the State Theatre lobby. You’d think we’d be tired by 10pm after partying since six; however, they helped us gain our second wind.

Of course, a post about Jump Back Ball is incomplete without a look at the looks of the evening. To complement the State Theatre, which was dressed in an incredible light show, Jump Back Ball’s guests donned glittering and elegant garb.

My favorite part of Jump Back Ball's decor was the emphasis on lights, which really highlighted the theatre's beauty

My favorite part of Jump Back Ball’s decor was the emphasis on lights, which really highlighted the theatre’s beauty

I loved seeing a few of my fellow Oddjobs, a beautiful sari dress, Q, a martini shaker, and my Man with the Golden Gun in full white tuxedo. I even ran into Bond, James Bond, ornithologist – the one and only Clark Pope of Pope’s Kitchen, whose bloody mary mix was put to good use the next day.

If you’d like to get involved with PlayhouseSquare Partners, the group that organizes and hosts Jump Back Ball each year, drop me a line. Or stop by our Partners Happy Hour this Thursday, March 6 at Battery Park Wine Bar.

The last couple of years I’ve ended my Jump Back Ball posts with a goofy picture of Scott. Until next year, I leave you with this:

Happy Jump Back Ball!

Hey, mom!

Disclosure: I’m on the board of PlayhouseSquare Partners, the organization that hosts Jump Back Ball. I also blogged about the event as a Jump Back Ball blogger.

Five Years and a Whole Lot of Love

Five years ago: Wedding ceremony, part 1 (CL, 2/21/09) and part 2 (Key West, 3/21/09)

Five years ago: Wedding ceremony, part 1 (CL, 2/21/09) and part 2 (Key West, 3/21/09)

Five years ago today, I piled into a car with my dad, mom, and sister, dressed in a white gown and black snow boots. We were headed to St. Ann’s in Coventry. It was snowing and I was stressing out – no surprises there.

Was I nervous that I was about to get married to Scott? Not at all. Out of all the things in my life, he is the one thing I have always been sure of.

I was just running late, and I hate running late. I was also anxious about slipping on ice or falling on my way down the aisle.

However, the moment I saw Scott patiently waiting for me at the front of the church, I was calm. Whether it’s our wedding day or a random Tuesday, Scott has the ability to calm my nerves with just a funny face:

scott face

Not sure if this particular Scott face is funny or scary

With Valentine’s Day and our anniversary so close to each other, love’s been on my mind lately. However, not just love for Scott, but for the friends, family, and city that have made up so much of our marriage and supported us through this past year of ups and downs.

Family

I count myself very lucky that my mom, dad, and sister are in good health and I get to see them fairly regularly considering they live in Virginia. The good health hasn’t always been the case, and I also know it won’t always be the case. But at this moment, everyone’s happy and healthy and I’m grateful for that. I’m going to enjoy it as much as I can for as long as that lasts.

They keep me honest – about myself, my feelings, and how things are going.

I’m also grateful to finally have Scott’s parents and grandmom in Cleveland. I forgot what it was like to have family right around the corner. I didn’t even realize it, but I missed Sunday dinners. I want to spend as much time as possible with this lady:

Grandmom made a tomato heart in honor of Valentine's Day

Grandmom made a tomato heart in honor of Valentine’s Day

It also means we’ll get to see more of Scott’s sister and our brand new brother-in-law! Happy one-month anniversary, Laura and Max.

Friends

I know that Scott and I have the habit of retreating into our own little insulated world — one constructed of comic books, LEGOs, and two crazy cats. However, it’s good to escape and enjoy some time with the girls. After the stress of the last few weeks, not one, but two girls nights were needed.

Nothing can quell my anxiety quite like Ty Fun’s Gang Gari curry, chocolate, bubbly, sorbet, and an evening with Alicia, Jen, and Kimberly. I have a tendency to go down the rabbit hole of panic and negativity. And although they let me ramble on about whatever’s bothering me (or the 500 things that are bothering me), they also force me to talk about what’s good. That, more than anything, helps stave off my crazy.

As if that wasn’t enough, I celebrated my first Galentine’s Day on Sunday with some friends from work. What is Galentine’s Day, you say? Oh, it’s only the best day of the year! (Non-Parks and Rec fans can check out the link.)

We channeled our inner Leslie Knope and enjoyed a delicious (and slightly rowdy) brunch at Le Petit Triangle. The smoked salmon crepes were magnificent; however, I don’t think you could go wrong with anything on that menu. And although no one got a needlepoint pillow with their face on it, I think we would have made Leslie proud with our various gifts:

Will you be my Galentine?

Will you be my Galentine?

Cleveland

A post about the last five years would not be complete without a mention of Cleveland. Exploring the city and its surrounding areas is how we spend most of our time as a couple, finding new things to love from the region’s great food, attractions, and nonprofits.

One event recently combined all of those things – the Cleveland Zoological Society’s Animal Attractions:

Food from some of the area’s best restaurants. Favorite dishes came from Rosander Event Kitchen, Whole Foods, and AMP150. I’ve learned to expect that I’ll always love AMP150′s soup; however, Animal Attractions’ roasted red pepper soup impressed even me. In many red pepper soups you may get a little heat and acidity; however, you could fully taste the fresh red pepper in AMP150′s.

Year-round Fun at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. It may have been cold the night of Animal Attractions, but it was hot inside the Zoo’s Rainforest. I enjoyed being surrounded by all of the tropical flora while saying hello to my favorite Rainforest residents: the porcupine, the chameleon, and the orangutans. We also got to hold a bear’s baculum during the pun-filled Bear Foot and Pregnant presentation!

The Zoo's Curator of Animals Travis Vineyard had a surprise co-presenter during Bear Foot and Pregnant

The Zoo’s Curator of Animals Travis Vineyard had a surprise co-presenter during Bear Foot and Pregnant

Supporting the Cleveland Zoological Society. Scott and I are glad to be members of the Cleveland Zoological Society and love that such a good night goes to raise money for the Zoo’s programs. Summer will be here soon enough with more Zoological Society events like ZippityZooDoo (6/6), Twilight at the Zoo (8/1), and Date Night at the ZOOvies (8/22). We hope to see you out at them.

Scott

Which brings me back to Scott. Every year of marriage has its ups and downs; however, this past one brought more challenges than the previous.

We both had changes occur in our jobs, which although good, were still an adjustment. We also struggled with some personal news.

After unsuccessfully trying to get pregnant for 3 years, we decided to get tested last Spring for fertility issues. Considering it took both sets of parents ten years to get pregnant. I always knew it could take awhile. However, they also started much younger than us so we wanted to find out sooner than later if there were any issues.

We learned this past year that, in fact, it would be very difficult to get pregnant.

This was not the news Scott and I had hoped for, at first. However, it opened the door to another possibility. One, that after a lot of reflection and conversations, we’re even happier with.

We’re going to adopt.

This isn’t news if you and I are friends on Facebook; however, it is the first time I’ve shared it here in a more public forum.

Why share it now? As I think about the last five years of marriage with Scott, supported by family and friends and surrounded by this fantastic city, I’m also looking ahead to the next five.

Here's to the next five years and beyond

Here’s to the next five years and beyond

Realistically, I know the adoption process is not going to be easy or quick. Because of this, we’re forcing ourselves to take our time. We know we want to move forward with a domestic infant adoption, and our goal for 2014 is to just pick an agency we’re happy with and prepare ourselves by attending more workshops at Adoption Network Cleveland.

In the meantime, though, Scott and I will continue living, loving, and most of all laughing. And we’re happy you’ll be here with us.

One of the rare times I've told a funny joke

One of the rare times I’ve told a funny joke

Happy anniversary, Scott!

Disclosure: I was invited to attend Animal Attractions in exchange for previewing the event on my blog. Opinions about the event are my own.

Springtime Sights from the Great Big Home + Garden Show

Great Big Home and Garden Show

I keep repeating to myself “Spring will be here soon. You’ve seen worse winters.” as if it will warm my chilly bones and make the bumpy commute to work better. However, there are moments where my patience for this year’s winter has worn thin and I need a better reminder that I’ll soon be enjoying summer days at Cedar Point.

Attending the Great Big Home and Garden Show last weekend was the boost I needed. Everywhere we turned we saw the vibrant green of Spring.

We saw many plants and flowers…

Great Big Home and Garden Show - Flowers

Got home improvement and landscaping ideas from the experts…

Great Big Home and Garden Show - Ahmed Hassan

And even played some pinball at The Pinball Shoppe‘s booth!

Great Big Home and Garden Show - Pinball

I will have you one day, Space Station pinball machine!

Out of everything we saw, The Ohio Valley Group‘s Beer Garden was the best. They partnered with Great Lakes Brewing Company for a garden dedicated to GLBC and other Ohio beer.

There was the beer bottle chandelier, the topiary wall cut into the shape of all of the Great Lakes, and various fountains and light fixtures made from brewing and bottling materials.

The highlight, though, was the beer tap waterfall.

Great Big Home and Garden Show - The Ohio Valley Group Beer Garden

Although my all-time favorite garden is from the year they were Classic TV-themed, Ohio Valley Group’s beer garden reminded me of all my favorite parts of warm weather: Hanging out at one of Cleveland’s awesome patios. Sipping wine while overlooking Geneva’s vineyards. Enjoying a game of lawn bowling in our backyard.

Although I’m definitely ready for Spring, if it’s going to take its time getting here, I’ll be ok.

Great Big Home and Garden Show - The Ohio Valley Group Beer Garden

You still have a few more days to visit the Great Big Home and Garden Show, which runs through February 16. You can read about the show’s other features and programming in my Great Big Home and Garden Show preview.

Buy your tickets online and save. Online tickets cost only $11, plus take another $1 off by using promo code CIC when you check out online.

Disclosure: I was invited to attend the show with a guest in exchange for hosting a giveaway and sharing my opinion after the show. The opinions here are 100% my own.

No Need to Be Crafty Like Q to Volunteer at Jump Back Ball Shop Nights

Got our tickets in the mail last week. Jump Back Ball is almost here!

Got our tickets in the mail last week. Jump Back Ball is almost here!

12 days and counting until the curtains go up on another Jump Back Ball.

Between now and February 22, when Scott and I aren’t celebrating Valentine’s Day, our fifth wedding anniversary, and going to work, you’ll likely find us on the fourth floor of the Idea Center at PlayhouseSquare — painting, cutting, pasting, and perhaps (but hopefully, not) glittering.

It’s Jump Back Ball Shop Night season. And, as always, anyone is free to stop by, help out, and get a sneak peek at this year’s James Bond-themed decor.

At last night’s Shop Night, Scott and I had a chance to paint a few of the cloth banners celebrating the different Bond films.  Kimberly and I painted “happy trees” on a backdrop of the Eiffel Tower. And I even got to use a nail gun for the first time. Once I overcame my fear of accidentally hurting someone with it, it was easy and fun.

 

As Scott wrote in last year’s Shop Night guest post, you don’t need to be crafty like Q to help out. The only requirement: have fun!

We’ll provide you with a light dinner. And in case you need another reason to attend, every Shop Night you go to will get you a raffle entry for an overnight stay at the Wyndham Hotel the night of Jump Back Ball.

You still have 3 chances to attend a Shop Night and be entered into the Wyndham Hotel raffle. Join us between 5:30pm and 8:30pm at the Idea Center on:

  • Wednesday, February 12
  • Monday, February 17
  • Thursday, February 20

You can also join us on Friday, February 21 for Set Up Day. If you’d like to help assemble the event’s decor throughout the State Theatre, begin arriving at the State Lobby after 9:30 a.m. If you can only stop by during your lunch hour, we’ll be there all day.

Still need Jump Back Ball tickets? Although general admission tickets are sold out, a few Sponsor level tickets remain. Sponsorships start at $1,500 which gets you 4 VIP tickets to Jump Back Ball. That breaks down to $375 per ticket, plus $1,220 of the sponsorship is tax-deductible. Head over to playhousesquare.org/JumpBackBall/sponsor.html for more information.

Already have your Jump Back Ball tickets? Check out my post on James Bond costume ideas.

Disclosure: I’m on the board of PlayhouseSquare Partners, the organization that hosts Jump Back Ball. I also blogged about the event’s kickoff party as a Jump Back Ball blogger.

Clue Into Cleveland Blogs: Ohio Blogging at The Oak Barrel

Photo tweeted by @sos_jr at last night's Ohio Blogging Meetup

Photo tweeted by @sos_jr at last night’s Ohio Blogging Meetup

There were only a few things that would make me venture out of the house into yesterday’s snow storm. Dinner at The Oak Barrel was one of those things, especially for Ohio Blogging’s latest meetup.

When I looked out my office window halfway through the day and saw the snow pelting downtown, I was second-guessing this decision. However, Scott and I actually lucked out after leaving around 5:30. It had stopped snowing and the roads were clear.

We were rewarded for this decision by a delicious dinner and good company.

At the recommendation of pretty much everyone at our table, I ordered Chef Demetrios’ Dr. Pepper Braised Pork Shank. I was *this close* to ordering my usual go-to of mac and cheese or steak, especially because the bacon-wrapped tenderloin with bleu cheese whipped potatoes and duck confit mac and cheese sounded so good.

Dr. Pepper Braised Pork Shank from The Oak Barrel

Dr. Pepper Braised Pork Shank from The Oak Barrel

However, I’m glad I went with the ultra-tender pork shank. Sitting atop garlic mashed potatoes, the juices from the meat and the sweet-and-spicy soy chile jam saturated the potatoes. A hearty serving of succulence, it was well-worth the under-$20 price. Even better on my wallet, we took advantage of The Oak Barrel’s Wine Wednesdays with a half-priced bottle of Sauvignon Blanc.

Because of the weather, our meetup group was smaller than usual. However, this allowed for more indepth conversations with people I don’t always get to see like Stuart and Julie Smith from sosAssociates.com and Valerie from Motherhood in Progress.

Before I get to my round-up of last night’s bloggers, I want to share 52 Weeks of Cleveland’s remembrance of Sean Kilbane, co-owner of Happy Dog. Over the weekend, Cleveland lost someone who was not just doing great work within the local restaurant, bar and music community, but had made an impact on individuals and groups like Secondhand Mutts with his constant generosity and friendliness. Hot Dogs, Frostie’s, and Pinball is a beautiful reflection.

What I learned from the bloggers at Ohio Blogging’s Oak Barrel Roundtable

1) Last month, the Cleveland Public Library opened up their new TechCentral MakerSplace. Anyone with a library card can now access laser engraving, 3D printing, photography, videography and graphic design technology. sosAssociates.com was at the TechCentral MakerSpace’s grand opening and has more information about this great addition.

2) Although Scott and I love our two full-of-personality cats, I do occasionally worry about how we’ll need to prepare Chloe and Cupcake when Scott and I adopt children. Fortunately, Motherhood in Progress shares some very good tips about how to get your cat ready before and after a baby’s arrival from her own recent experiences.

3) East and West sides met last Saturday for Believe in CLE’s yoga event at the Cleveland Museum of Art. Nearly 800 yogis took over the museum’s beautiful atrium, and Poise in Parma was invited to assist the class. Read her recap on the mat: #believeinCLE at the Cleveland Museum of Art.

4) The Cleveland Institute of Music and Severance Hall have joined forces to showcase the young talent of the CIM Orchestra in one of Cleveland’s most stunning spaces. WhyCLE? is hosting a CIM@Severance giveaway. Enter to win two tickets to their concert on February 12.

Stay up-to-speed on the next Ohio Blogging meetup at facebook.com/ohblogging.

Blondes vs. Brunettes Cleveland Flag Football Game

A little blogkeeping: Congrats, entry 2-Carly, for winning the Great Big Home and Garden giveaway. Respond to my email by noon ET tomorrow (2/5) to confirm you can attend.

If you’d still like to purchase tickets, head over to greatbighomeandgarden.com, use promo code CiC, and get tickets to the Great Big Home and Garden Show for only $10!

Now to change gears a bit…

Two years ago, a group of Cleveland young professionals came together to fight Alzheimer’s disease with football.

The annual BvBCLE flag football game celebrates the age-old rivalry between blondes and brunettes. However, the question in this game isn’t who has more fun, but who plays harder: the Blonde Bombshells or Blazin’ Brunettes?

I attended Cleveland’s first Blondes vs. Brunettes game in 2012 and was floored by the players’ enthusiasm — not just for the game, but also for raising awareness and money for the Cleveland chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.

That first year raised $41,253, which went to support Alzheimer’s research and the free programs helping 56,000+ people affected in Northeast Ohio. To date, Blondes vs. Brunettes Cleveland Flag Football has raised more than $80,000 and is excited to make the 3rd annual event even bigger.

Cleveland's 3rd annual Charity Powderpuff Football Game to benefit the Alzheimer's Association. Sign up at BvBCLE.org.

Cleveland’s 3rd annual Charity Powderpuff Football Game to benefit the Alzheimer’s Association. Sign up at BvBCLE.org.

BvBCLE ’14 will be held on Saturday, June 7 at 11 a.m. on Cleveland State University’s Krenzler Field.

Although June may seem far away, Cleveland’s Blondes vs. Brunettes league has already been busy preparing.  And no wonder, this year’s fundraising goal is a staggering $51,000.

Player registration just opened this week. Depending on your hair color, women can now register for Team Blonde or Team Brunette. Redheads are free agents and can choose either team.

Although ladies-only play, anyone can coach, join a committee or make a donation to BvBCLE.  In fact, your donation gets you a ticket to the game.

Learn more about how you can get involved at www.BvBCLE.org.

GIVEAWAY: The Great Big Home and Garden Show at Cleveland’s I-X Center

UPDATE: After removing pingbacks and 2 duplicate entries, congratulations to entry #2 – Carly for winning this giveaway. Please reply to my email confirming you can attend by noon 2/5.

Great Big Giveaway Winner

Win 2 tickets to Cleveland's Great Big Home and Garden Show, February 8 through 16

Win 2 tickets to Cleveland’s Great Big Home and Garden Show, Feb. 8-16

Today’s a big day in the Hicken households.  Scott’s parents and grandmother are coming to Cleveland! Not next year, not next month, not next week. Today, we gain new neighbors.

With a new house comes the fun of new home improvement and gardening projects. There’s even a tree house in the backyard that has Scott’s dad’s name all over it.

This week’s giveaway couldn’t be better themed because I have a pair of tickets to The Great Big Home and Garden Show for you!

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NOVA at Cleveland Public Theatre’s Big Box ’14

Cleveland Public Theatre's Big Box '14, February 6 - March 22

Cleveland Public Theatre’s Big Box ’14, cptonline.org

Cleveland Public Theatre is known for its year-round dedication to pushing boundaries and taking risks with their production choices (you can read about some of those performances here and here). However, when it’s time for their annual Big Box series, they push it one step further.

Cleveland Public Theatre’s Big Box celebrates audacious, local artists by providing a space and support staff for new workshop performances.

For the writers, directors and actors selected to take part in Big Box, it means they have an opportunity to focus solely on experimenting with different disciplines and new stories. For audiences, it means the chance to experience ten world-premieres in only seven weeks. 

First up is NOVA, a one-act opera that satirizes contemporary marketing techniques and how our society often treats people – especially women – as commodities.

Presented by Real Time Opera, producers of Harvey Pekar’s Leave Me Alone!, NOVA is running in the James Levin Theatre February 6, 7 and 8 (all performances start at 7 p.m.).

Presented by Real Time Opera, NOVA will be onstage at the James Levin Theatre 2/6-8 (Credit: Don Harvey)

NOVA, onstage at the James Levin Theatre 2/6-8 (Credit: Don Harvey)

If the Stepford Men’s Association had gone to robotics school, NOVA would have been their thesis project. In short, she’s a sexbot.

(Needless to say, this production is for adults only — leave children at home because it contains nudity and sexual language of a graphic nature.)

This show intrigues me because I’m two issues into Alex & Ada, a new comic about an emotionally detached guy who receives a sexbot from his grandmother for his birthday.

However, in contrast to Alex & Ada’s use of the android trope for a love story, NOVA is taking a much more scathing and reflective approach.

Paul Schick, who wrote the libretto, said he intends NOVA to deliver an indictment of “the superficiality of commercialized sexuality — essentially white, video-obsessed and gamingobsessed – in which our culture is immersed.”

I’m similarly interested in how NOVA twists the traditional opera format. While the production will include a chorus, they’re evangelists backing up the sexbot salesman’s unending pitch. The jingles they use quote pre-existing material and advertising campaigns. The show will also feature canned sitcom laughter from a “studio audience.”

It’s an interesting concept and I love that CPT’s Big Box provides an environment where local artists can take this sort of risk and get feedback from an audience. 

After NOVA, Cleveland Public Theatre’s Big Box series continues through March 22 with one to two shows per week. Tickets cost $12 on Thursdays and $18 on Fridays and Saturdays. You can read more about each week’s schedule at the links below: