14. Hear Gary Shteyngart
If you thought his fiction was funny, read Shteyngart’s memoir, Little Failure. As you might expect, he’s no less neurotic than his characters. Here, we’re treated to a deeply moving, honest evocation of growing up in Leningrad and Queens and later experiencing psychoanalysis and a drinking problem. The reading and book signing are sponsored by Brooklyn’s Greenlight Bookstore.
St. Joseph’s College, January 8, 7:30 p.m.
15. Hear New Mini-Operas at the Prototype Festival
Sad topics, cheerful developments.
The festival includes Paul’s Case, a chamber opera by Gregory Spears about a high-school loner’s tribulations, and Thumbprint, about a woman in Pakistan seeking justice after being gang-raped. If the subject matter is grim, the surge of small-scale, multimedia “indie” opera is full of hope.—J.D.
Various venues, opens January 8.
16. See Andrew Moore’s Dirt Meridian
Close to the Earth.
Moore has, in this series, turned his camera on the Nebraska landscape. It’s a lingering look at the beautiful twilight of the family-farm era: windswept houses and barns and, especially, the weathered remnants of a fading way of life.
Yancey Richardson Gallery, opens January 9.
17. Hear Jake Bugg
Wise beyond his nineteen years.
The 19-year-old classic rocker’s tight, tuneful songs hold echoes of groups his dad and granddad might have enjoyed: the Beatles, the Jam, Oasis, with some Johnny Cash and Everly Brothers tossed in for good measure. His latest album, Shangri La, was produced by Rick Rubin and is a smash in the U.K. His fans here are fewer in number but no less devoted. —Jody Rosen
Terminal 5, January 10.
18. Play Indie Essentials: 25 Must-Play Video Games
A Wii we go!
In anticipation of February’s IndieCade 2014, which the museum’s hosting this year, head to Astoria to immerse yourself in the alternative worlds of cutting-edge video in a “hands-on” exhibition of “games that have had great impact on game design and culture in the last decade.” And, yes, Minecraft is in the house.
Museum of the Moving Image.
19. Hear Action Bronson
He looks like an even fatter Mario Batali, which makes sense since he’s a chef. But Action Bronson is also one of hip-hop’s best and brightest: a witty, profane New York Internet rap hero, with songs as stuffed with punch lines as his boudin blanc is with pork liver. The crowd will rap along with every rhyme—mostly, they’re about sex and food. —J.R.
Irving Plaza, January 10 and 11.
20. Watch Girls
The season-three premiere, with two episodes!
After a particularly dark turn for Hannah, the season-two finale rewarded the amusingly irritating girl with romantic redemption as Adam heroically rushed to save her from … herself.
HBO, January 12, 10 and 10:30 p.m.
21. Do This No Pants Subway Ride
Or wait to see it on Instagram.
In January 2002, seven pantsless guys from Improv Everywhere rode a subway for eight consecutive stops as a prank. More than a decade later, the number has swelled to 4,000 co-ed participants in this city, and tens of thousands in more than 60 cities around the world. Why? Why not?
22. See True Detective
The McConaugh-ssance continues.
Matthew McConaughey’s hot streak extends to HBO with the new series True Detective, co-starring Woody Harrelson. They play Louisiana detectives pursuing a mysterious killer over the course of seventeen years. Bits of it capture some of the real-world despair that made the Paradise Lost documentaries so mournful. —Matt Zoller Seitz
HBO, January 12, 9 p.m.
23. Send Off Julie Taymor
Last chance for serpents, spiders, asses.
Though the director was fired from Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, it remains in many ways hers, at least through January 4, when it closes at the Foxwoods Theatre and heads to Vegas. On the same day, her Magic Flute says good-bye at the Metropolitan Opera. And her visually thrilling take on A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which opened the wonderful new Polonsky Shakespeare Center in Brooklyn, closes on January 12. —J.G.
Through January 4 and 12. Broadway, Brooklyn, the Met.
24. Watch The 2014 Golden Globe Awards
And please drink responsibly.
Awards shows guarantee one thing: We’re gonna kvetch about snubs. But aren’t most of us tuning in for the Amy-and-Tina show?
NBC, January 12.
25. Hear Parquet Courts
Peeled off the Pavement.
Skinny white guys playing droll guitar rock have seen their stock deflate steadily over the past decade, perhaps deservedly so. But Parquet Courts breathe new life into the genre with songs like “You’ve Got Me Wonderin’ Now,” dispensing just the right ratio of sloppy riffs to clever wordplay.
The Acheron, January 14.