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To Do: January 15–29, 2014

25 things to see, hear, watch, and read.


1. Watch Sherlock
Of course you should, you fool.
Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman return as sneering Holmes and goofy Watson in the premiere of the hit import’s third season. The plot of this one finds Holmes’s brother, Mycroft (Mark Gatiss), summoning Sherlock back to London to investigate a shadowy underground terrorist organization. Cumberbatch and Freeman’s prickly rapport hasn’t dimmed, though you might want to turn down the bass on your home-theater system so the once-and-future Smaug doesn’t blow the subwoofer. —Matt Zoller Seitz
PBS, January 19, 10 p.m.

2. Attend The Meeting*
If Bette Davis ran the Rotary Club.
Justin Sayre is the chairman of the board of the fictional International Order of Sodomites, whose three monthly gatherings will feature skits, guest quasi-stars, and outrageously hyper-gay reports on all that’s wrong with us today. The January agenda: David Bowie. (February 16: Bernadette Peters. March 16: Buffy the Vampire Slayer.) —Jesse Green
Joe’s Pub, January 16, 9:30 p.m.

3. Read The Meadow
Selections for the indoor season.
I’m a fan of weather-based reading: Words­worth, say, in sunshine; snowy stuff in snow. I’m also a fan of place-based reading, and so, over the holidays, which I spent in middle of nowhere, Wyoming, I picked up The Meadow, a 1992 novel­ish sort of thing (it is genre-defiant) by the poet James Galvin. I can’t recommend it enough, especially if you find yourself figuratively or literally somewhere desolate. “Each year,” Galvin writes, “the snow tries to memorize, blindly, the landscape, as if it were the landscape that was going to melt in spring.” —Kathryn Schulz
Holt Paperbacks.

Country Music
4. Hear Luke Bryan, Lee Brice, and Cole Swindell
Particularly for the undercard.
For better and, often, worse, Luke Bryan is the biggest thing in country music. The worse is obvious: His dopey but amiable songs are the essence of bro-country, the party-hearty trucks-and-chicks-obsessed style that has bulldozed virtually everything else off commercial country radio. Bryan’s a nice enough guy, though, and he can put on an arena show. Arrive early for Lee Brice, a bruiser whose songs, and voice, are capable of blowing Bryan’s ball cap clear out to 34th Street. —Jody Rosen
Madison Square Garden, January 25.

5. See T.J. Wilcox: In the Air
Up there.
One of the more mesmerizing temporary sights in town is this 360-degree “cinema in the round” film, depicting one day’s view from the rooftop of Wilcox’s Union Square studio. The panorama is interspliced with biographical snippets about New York legends like Andy Warhol and Gloria Vanderbilt, as well as a recounting of the dreamy notion of having transatlantic zeppelins tie up at the mooring mast atop the Empire State Building. An homage to our town’s creativity and the Manhattanhenge sunset, not to be missed and maybe never to be forgotten. —Jerry Saltz
Whitney Museum of American Art, through February 9.

Kid Stuff
6. Read Thomas Jefferson: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Everything
Maira Kalman illuminates his life, for kids.
The latest in the whimsical author-illustrator’s series for children, this book is devoted to the wide-ranging, complex—and, yes, flawed—worldview of our most complex Founding Father. (It’s appropriate for ages 5 through 8.)
Nancy Paulsen Books.

Pop Music
7. Hear Neutral Milk Hotel
Magnum opus.
Some of us don’t quite get the religiosity surrounding the nineties indie quartet led by self-styled pop weirdo Jeff Mangum. As for everyone else: They’ll be out in force for the band’s long-prayed-for reunion shows, genuflecting. —J.R.
Capitol Theatre (Port Chester, N.Y.), January 22; BAM, January 23–25; Webster Hall, January 27–28.

8. Hear Kyra Miller
Where ambition meets electrolysis.
What’s a smart Jewish girl with a fabulous voice to do when casting agents only want Kelli O’Hara? The Russian aestheticians of New York know. Part cabaret act, part ethno-autobiography, Miller’s Chosen is a Philip Roth short story come to life (if Philip Roth were a stunning woman). —J.G.
Joe’s Pub, January 21, 7:30 p.m.

9. See Carol Channing
It’s so nice to have you back where you belong.
Your eyes do not deceive you: The original Dolly Gallagher Levi is coming in from Palm Springs for one night onstage, a week before her 93rd birthday, with Justin Vivian Bond. Wish her hello.
Town Hall, January 20.

Classical Music
10. Hear Jonathan Biss
Teacher at the keyboard.
Having patiently illuminated the Beethoven sonatas in his online Coursera classes, Biss is making his way through all 32, a couple at a time. This time he serves up two of the biggies—including the Waldstein—with an eclectic array of miniatures. —Justin Davidson
Carnegie Hall, January 17.

11. See 20 Feet From Stardom
Backup at home.
Now that its obscure singers have taken the Rose Bowl by storm, it’s time to see the documentary, on DVD or streamed. Packed with period footage, it goes from bliss to bliss, with pauses to consider why these women didn’t achieve full-on fame—at least till this film came along to make us identify with that most American of disappointments. —David Edelstein
On Amazon and Netflix.

12. Read Trespassing on Einstein’s Lawn
Reality doesn’t have to bite.
Why is there something rather than nothing? Wait: Why are there two somethings rather than nothing? I mean: What a delightful surprise that, twice since taking this job, I’ve come across terrific books about why we have a universe. The first was Jim Holt’s Why Does the World Exist? The second, out this month, is Amanda Gefter’s Trespassing on Einstein’s Lawn, in which she tells her own life story and ghostwrites that of the universe. —K.S.

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