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Agenda Newsletter - September 12, 2007

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Agenda Top Pick Short-story writer conquers the essay
The Braindead Megaphone
George Saunders; Riverhead; $14; Buy it

Short-story master George Saunders has perfected a form that we’re gonna go ahead and call hysterical empathy: stories in which the regular guy, thrust into ever more cruel and absurd situations, endures. These essays pack the same punch as his fiction. “Humor is what happens when we're told the truth quicker and more directly than we're used to," Saunders writes in a tribute to his forebear Kurt Vonnegut. He brings that perceptive humor to bear on Iraq-era media, Dubai’s architecture, Borat, and more.


   
Populist Give this nutty flop a chance
Shoot ‘Em Up
 
This comedy-action flick was a box-office dud this past weekend, but we’re not going to lash out at anyone about it, like some people (Vulture: “Only about 828,267 people went to see the film. So, by our count, 299,171,733 Americans, plus innumerable undocumented illegal aliens, are to blame for its failure”). Instead, we’re going to gently remind you that it shows Clive Owen killing people while having sex with Monica Belluci. Save the “good movies” for this weekend, and see this now.

New Line Cinema
Show
times
 »

     
   

Walmartopia
at Minetta Lane Theatre

Imagine a world where the megachain dominates everything! This new production finds smart laughs in that nightmare scenario. Enter to win tickets now!

   
Indieist Slumbering Giants awaken
Colossal Youth
 
In 1980 three friends from Cardiff took the name Young Marble Giants and released a little piece of postpunk perfection called Colossal Youth. This domestic reissue expands the album into three must-have discs, gathering up the band's Peel Sessions and nearly everything else they recorded together, along with copious liner notes. (You'll have to look elsewhere for Hole's cover of "Credit in the Straight World.") Nothing, though, can overshadow that original collection of deceptively simple melodies and lyrics.

Young Marble Giants
Domino
$19.98
Buy it  »

     
Square Get a perfect taste of a bitter rocker
Lloyd Cole & The Commotions, Live at the BBC, Vol. 1
 
Cole’s literate, lovelorn pop songs never quite won him the notoriety he deserved in the eighties, when he was with the Commotions. We’re particularly fond of these lines, from the typically witty and bitter “Are You Ready to Be Heartbroken?,” included on this treasure of a live disc: “You say you’re so happy now, you can hardly stand / Lean over on the bookcase, if you really want to get straight / Read Norman Mailer or get a new tailor.”

Lloyd Cole & The Commotions
Universal
$19.98
Buy it  »

     
Aesthete Artist blazes new Wild West trail
Hinterland
 
The Wild West gets a biting update in this trio of large-scale charcoal landscapes, two rickety sculptures, silk-screened vellum panels, and death personified in the form of a taxidermied buffalo. Adam Helms has a knack for pinning present-day villains (in this case, Al Qaeda) against their long-lost historical foes (in this case, Western wild cards). His hyperrealist technique heightens the sense that—sorry!—the worst is yet to come.

Adam Helms
Marianne Boesky
Through October 6
More info  »

     
Kids Hand them off to trapeze artists
Lava Love
 
There are a million fitness classes to enroll the energetic in this fall, but perhaps none as cool or authentic as the acrobatics and trapeze course taught by members of the dance troupe Lava at their Prospect Heights studio. It isn’t a side space set up for students, but where the group actually trains, and there are ten-week sessions starting every day this week. The budget-conscious should try the open workout class for kids ages 5 to 15, free every Wednesday.

Ten-week sessions for $165; free for the open workout
More info  »

     
 
 

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Wednesday September 12, 2007

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