Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Winter Getaway

Photo by Erik Drost
Now that winter has turned into WINTER in Northeast Ohio, we’re kind of over it. Forecasts say tomorrow’s high temperature in Cleveland will be 1 degree below zero. That’s not a typo, unfortunately.

You can escape the weather for a while without getting on a plane or even driving very far. The Rockefeller Park Greenhouse offers a reprieve from the current not-so-great outdoors. There are colorful plants and flowers, warmth and light, things that are in short supply this time of year.

Besides those amenities, the greenhouse offers free admission and free parking. It's at 750 East 88th St., off I-90’s MLK Drive exit, and its phone number is 216-664-3103.

You might just stay in tomorrow if you can manage it. But you can visit the greenhouse another time. It’s open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily.

While you're in the area, there's another place nearby where you can view some flora. Orchid Mania is at the Cleveland Botanical Garden in University Circle through March 10. It's not free, however, unless you're a CBG member or a child age 2 or younger.

Friday, January 25, 2019

All Aboard!

Did they say that on Cleveland’s streetcars? Probably not. I was born after the city’s streetcar era, but for several years I lived in New Orleans, where the streetcars have been running for more than 150 years. I don’t recall ever hearing an “All aboard” call on those cars.

My parents used to talk about riding Cleveland’s streetcars, which made their last trip in the early 1950s. As the population moved to the suburbs and more people began driving, the streetcars became obsolete. I liked riding the streetcars in New Orleans and I think I would have liked riding them here.

Although I’ll never get that chance, I can take a trip back in time Saturday, Feb. 2, at Cleveland Public Library’s downtown branch. The library is showing a 2017 documentary called “Moving Places: Streetcar City” and presenting a talk with the film’s director, Brad Masi. The free program will be from 2 to 4 p.m. in the Louis Stokes Wing Auditorium.

The film will reveal the dark side of the streetcars’ history and their continuing influence on Greater Cleveland. Maybe you can watch the film elsewhere, but seeing it for free and hearing from the director sounds like quite an opportunity.

Friday, January 18, 2019


It’s the start of a holiday weekend. Not for me, but for most students and some workers. Here in Greater Cleveland, we’re bracing for a winter storm that could bring significant snow and temperatures in the teens by Monday, which is Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

What good is a snowstorm if it hits when you already have the day off? Anyway, people who don’t have to be anywhere this weekend might be ready to get out by Monday, regardless of the weather.

University Circle sounds like the place to be. All the museums are offering special programming and free admission. They include the Cleveland Museum of Art, which normally is closed on Monday.

Take your pick among the museums you can visit for free, including the Museum of Contemporary Art in the Uptown neighborhood and the Baseball Heritage Museum at East 66th Street and Lexington Avenue.

King’s namesake library in the Circle is putting on a commemorative program featuring speakers and music in the afternoon. The Cleveland Orchestra will give a free performance at Severance Hall, where visitors also can enjoy line dancing and various family-friendly activities all afternoon.

Hardy souls can hit the Rink at Wade Oval, which is offering free admission from noon to 7 p.m. Ice skates can be rented for a small fee.

This photo shows the Sassys (pictured above), the “snow family” available for free photo ops outside Merwin’s Wharf on the Cuyahoga River’s Irishtown Bend. FYI, the restaurant is not open Monday, but you can still visit and photograph the Sassys.

Enjoy the weekend, however you spend it. But given the forecast, I recommend checking the road conditions before you head out and calling ahead to make sure the place you plan to visit is open.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

It's Happening One Night

Do you like classic movies? I mean black-and-white films with old-time movie stars. I do, and one of my favorites is coming to Lakewood on Saturday, Feb. 2.

Yes, that’s Groundhog Day, which might make you think of a certain movie. But the one I’m talking about is “It Happened One Night,” a screwball comedy from 1934 starring Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert in their Oscar-winning roles.

Even if you haven’t seen the movie, you’ve probably seen the famous clip where Colbert’s character shows Gable’s character how to get a driver’s attention while hitchhiking: show a little leg. It’s a cute, funny scene, but it probably was considered “racy” 85 years ago.

The movie is playing at Lakewood Public Library’s Main Branch as part of the Lakewood Public Cinema series. The free showing begins at 6 p.m. in the basement auditorium.

One caveat: The library doesn’t allow food or beverages anywhere in the building, so you’ll have to forgo the popcorn and candy to watch this movie.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Lit Cleveland

This post isn’t about Cleveland being lit, although an argument could be made that it is. Instead it’s about Literary Cleveland, a nonprofit organization that caters to writers and readers.

Lit Cleveland begins the new year with a new executive director and a slate of fantastic programs and workshops. Christine Howey has succeeded co-founder Lee Chilcote at the helm.

In the next few months, there will be workshops on writing fiction, poetry and memoir, among others. Some workshops have filled up already, so don’t hesitate if you’re interested in any of them.

For many writers, the hardest part is getting started. January’s four-week “Developing a Writing Habit” class with Darlene Montonaro is full, but she will teach it again in February.

Maybe you’ve written something and you’re trying to get it out there. “Shameless Self-Promotion for Writers” with Ken Schneck on Jan. 23 might help you. Huda Al-Marashi and Laura Maylene Walter will present “Real Talk: Finding a Literary Agent” on April 4.

Some workshops have a fee and others are free. Members get discounts on all workshops, and the membership fee is tax-deductible.

Literary Cleveland’s headquarters are in 78th Street Studios in Cleveland’s Gordon Square neighborhood, but classes and workshops are offered on both sides of town and occasionally in points south.

You know what they say about all work and no play. So a few times a year, Lit Cleveland has member mixers that are fundraising social occasions. They are nice for writers, who work alone much of the time.

For those who want to read but not necessarily write, check out the Resources tab on the organization's website for information about local book clubs and readings. Literary Cleveland also publishes Gordon Square Review, a free online literary magazine that spotlights Northeast Ohio writers.