1. Read The Great War
Watch the story unfold.
Books are not usually measured by physical length, but Joe Sacco’s is: 24 feet of panorama, to be precise. Sacco, the winner of the two Eisner Awards (the Pulitzers of comic books and graphic novels), has previously used his immense talent to depict the toll of violence in Gaza and Bosnia. Here, he turns to the events of July 1, 1916, one of the deadliest days of the Battle of the Somme. The format lends the book temporal as well as physical scale; set against it, the depiction of human action—from towing howitzers into position to carrying casualties off the field—is simple, precise, and aptly small. I found it deeply absorbing, and borderline unbearable. —Kathryn Schulz
W. W. Norton.
2. See Julius Caesar
I come to praise.
The orderly hellaciousness of Phyllida Lloyd’s punk-rock Julius Caesar (imported from London’s Donmar Warehouse) is set in a women’s prison, where even the bloodiest power struggles are just for show, and the ultimate authority is never questioned. It’s Shakespeare for Britain’s ring-of-steel era, and even the daffier, sillier stuff packs a wallop. —Scott Brown
St. Ann’s Warehouse, through November 3.
3. Visit WFMU’s Radiovision
Old medium, still sounding fresh.
Everyone loves WFMU, one of the (pretty rare) bright spots in New York’s airspace. At this event, public-radio and podcasting luminaries will come together to discuss the medium’s new life in the era of the Internet. You’ll be best off in the less industry-focused afternoon sessions, where Tom Scharpling and Vulture’s own Julie Klausner will talk about comedy podcasting and Laurie Anderson delivers the keynote address.
October 19; locations and schedule at radiovision.wfmu.org.
4. Watch Queer Eye Reunion: 10 Years Later
The other Carson show.
Incredible as it might seem, the Queer Eye team first advised clueless straight men about dress, grooming, and attitude in 2003. The Fab Five—Ted Allen, Kyan Douglas, Thom Filicia, Carson Kressley, and Jai Rodriguez—reunite in this one-nighter, joining Andy Cohen for a look back. No makeovers, just memories. —Matt Zoller Seitz
Bravo, October 20, 9 p.m.
5. See William Pope.L’s Colored Waiting Room
Heat and light from a grim place.
Few American phrases conjure worse vibes than the title of William Pope.L’s current hyperjazzed, excellently cagey show “Colored Waiting Room.” The titular tip-off sets us up for inaccessible drinking cups mounted on a shelf, pointed drawings that say things like negro idea #414, severed black heads, and the namesake waiting room painted coats of many colors. It’s segregated America as a Technicolor trial by political fire and optically aggressive brimstone. This is Pope.L’s best gallery show. —Jerry Saltz
Mitchell-Innes & Nash, through October 26
6. See Karen Black
No horror, just voluptuous.
Oh, Karen Black. After Airport 1975, we had some laughs at your expense, but you were at the center of so many momentous films. And BAM has them: Five Easy Pieces, Cisco Pike, Nashville, Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean (your best work—as a transsexual?), and that underrated gothic, Burnt Offerings. —David Edelstein
BAMcinématek, October 18 to 24.
7. Hear Franz Ferdinand
Nine years ago, these Glaswegians were the hottest little rock band on the planet. Their fourth album, Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action, is as packed with pleasures—seamless fusions of disco, classic rock, and Highland wit—as any of the previous, but they’ve slipped off the hipster radar. What better time to catch them live? —Jody Rosen
Hammerstein Ballroom, October 22.
8. Celebrate Archtober
Awkward to spell, easy to like.
October is architecture month, and the city is alive with symposia, walking tours, home visits, boat trips, screenings, and lectures aimed at everyone from novices to wonks. —Justin Davidson
Full list of activities at archtober.org.
9. Hear Silk Road Ensemble
Sounds from afar.
The international peace-through-music project that Yo-Yo Ma began in 1998—before 9/11, Iraq, Afghanistan, Chechen bombers in Boston, or the Arab Spring—marks its fifteenth birthday with new music from three continents. —J.D.
October 16, Carnegie Hall.
10. See Muscle Shoals
First there was 20 Feet From Stardom, and now there’s another thrilling music doc: Muscle Shoals, which centers on the Alabama studio that gave us some of the most thrilling bluesy rock ever made: Aretha, Percy, etc. It was run by Rick Hall, who’s white—as was his rhythm section. Who’da thunk it? Mick, Keef, Bono, and Aretha are all on hand to sing its praises. —D.E.
In theaters and on iTunes now.
11. See Gravity in a Theater
Do not try this at home.
Astrophysicists have raised objections to Sandra Bullock and George Clooney’s problems in Alfonso Cuarón’s smash, the summit of Motion-Sick Cinema. Based on my own superior calculations, I believe it’s—a whole lot of fun, particularly when Sandy collides with some object and you rock back in your seat from the impact! Don’t wait to see it on your iPhone. —D.E.
In theaters now.
12. See Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty
This time with more eyeliner.
The British choreographer known for his inventive, popular reimaginings of the classics (in Swan Lake, the men dance en pointe) goths up the typically tutu’d warhorse. The result is darkly romantic, Tim Burton–esque ballet. —Rebecca Milzoff
City Center, October 23 through November 3.
13. Watch Great Performances 40th-Anniversary Celebration
It’s called that for a reason.
Built around a commemorative concert taped last November, this special celebrates by reliving, well, great performances. Julie Andrews, Audra McDonald, Don Henley, David Hyde Pierce, Josh Groban, Itzhak Perlman, Peter Martins, Take 6—it’s quite a lineup. —M.Z.S.
PBS, October 18, 9 p.m.
14. See Magritte: The Mystery of the Ordinary, 1926–1938
This is not an exhibition.
Floating apples, bowler hats, and the still, flattened strangeness of the preeminent Belgian Surrealist.
Museum of Modern Art, through January 12.
15. Hear Riff Raff
Weird, good, unique.
Is Riff Raff a performance artist? A minstrel act? Are his rhymes genius or gibberish? That beard, is it fake? The Houston Dada rapper raises many questions—and renders them beside the point with sheer verve and strangeness. —J.R.
Irving Plaza, October 18.
16. Attend The Rationalist: Alan Alda As Hawkeye Pierce in ‘M*A*S*H’
“Am I ranting? I hope so; my ranting gets raves.”
Alan Alda as Hawkeye Pierce was perfectly suited to his era: antiwar, simultaneously wisecracking and earnest as all get-out. And successful. The M*A*S*H finale drew 106 million viewers. At this event, Alda will talk with Jeff Greenfield about his defining role, inaugurating MMI’s “Iconic Characters of Comedy” series of chats.
Museum of the Moving Image, October 15, 7 p.m.
17. Hear Combattimenti
The killer ensemble Le Poème Harmonique unsheathes another themed early-music program, this one centered on love and war in the seventeenth century. —J.D.
Miller Theatre, October 19, 8 p.m.
18. See Intermezzo Dance Company
Performer takes over.
The charismatic American Ballet Theatre soloist Craig Salstein is the latest star dancer to pursue a side career as an impresario. His new troupe encourages that impulse in his colleagues, too: Their debut program of Verdi features choreography by current ABT star Marcelo Gomes and former NYCB dancer Adam Hendrickson, among an impressive list. —R.M.
92nd Street Y Harkness Dance Center, October 18 through 20.
19. Watch Hart of Dixie
Y’all come on back now, y’hear?
Dr. Zoe Hart (played by Rachel Bilson) is a New York doctor transferred to Alabama to solve Doc Hollywood mini medical mysteries while simultaneously charming her neighbors with her strange Yankee ways. It’s a show that pulls in DNA from Gilmore Girls, The O.C., Everwood, Felicity, and Northern Exposure and recombines them into a surprisingly attractive whole.
The CW; Mondays, 8 p.m.
20. See the Wall Street Coin, Currency, and Collectibles Show
Follow the money.
All right, it’s not exactly the biggest visual extravaganza in town. But there’s something weirdly bewitching about the tiny objects that constitute money—so similar to the ordinary stuff in your pockets, but sometimes worth millions. Here, an array of one-of-a-kind objects is on view: a bond signed by George Washington, coins from Spanish shipwrecks. Inappropriately enough, admission is free.
Museum of American Finance, 48 Wall Street; October 17 through 19; details at moaf.org.
21. See Baden-Baden 1927
Take the waters.
With City Opera gone, the job of offering an alternative to the Met falls to the tiny, resourceful Gotham Chamber Opera. The company re-creates a festival night that featured four new one-acts, including Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht’s Mahagonny Songspiel (the one with “Alabama Song”) and works by Milhaud, Hindemith, and Toch. —J.D.
Gerald W. Lynch Theater, 524 West 59th Street; October 23, 25, 26, and 29.
22. See Two Boys
Elements of style.
Nico Muhly’s 2011 opera, about a toxic relationship that develops entirely online, gets its U.S. premiere in a production by Bartlett Sher. —J.D.
Metropolitan Opera, October 21 through November 14.
23. Hear Pearl Jam
They were always a great live band, maybe the best of the Class of ’91 breakouts, and against the odds, they still are. Fly your flannel!
Barclays Center, October 18 and 19.
24. See Ian Hobson’s Brahms
And a lot of it.
The pianist and conductor, who fuses iron stamina with supple grace, is making his way through every solo piano piece and chamber work with piano that Brahms composed in fourteen concerts. —J.D.
DiMenna Center; next event October 22, 7:30 p.m.
25. Stream Super Clyde
Probably your one and only chance.
CBS didn’t pick up Rupert Grint’s single-camera sitcom, and it’s a shame: It’s eccentric and warm and better than a lot of stuff that’s on the air. The pilot’s gone up online, so send some traffic its way—maybe a cable network will take the plunge.