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5.03.10 My Top Ten RIGHT NOW

1. CONCERT V.V. Brown at Bowery Ballroom

In a sequined mask and brandishing a drum mallet, V. V. is a spark of life, beating out the rhythms to her hyper-catchy songs and singing in a more raw but no less attractive voice than appears on her first album. Tearing through her set, she hits all of the best tracks bringing to them a live performance worthy of their originally produced enjoyment. She even covered Drake, a bit of a misstep, but demonstrating that she’s a true talent nonetheless. And even stripped down to just a piano, she is captivating. She will definitely mature into a must see artist… B+

2. EXHIBITION Artropolis

Taking over three floors of Chicago’s Merchandise Mart, this art exhibition is certainly impressive in scope alone. The best of the collection is the top floor with galleries showing everything from established museum quality artists to unknown artists from Korea that will likely be the big hit of the coming year. The floor of antiques was skip-able and the “Next” section had a few cutting edge pieces, especially the massive animals made out of Nike shoeboxes, but didn’t quite captivate. All in all it looks like painting and the flat arts are very much the trend of the moment, although at times adorned with video installations built right into the canvas… A-

3. MOVIE Sullivan’s Travels

This is a quintessential Hollywood film about getting out of Hollywood. Preston Sturges throws Joel McCrae and Veronica Lake through such trials and travails in an awesome cross between a classic happy ending plot with a verite look at poverty across America. The contrast between McCrae’s beauty and the very real hobos he consorts with during the film is astounding. It’s easy to get swayed into the quick patter humor, laughing all along, without realizing how twisted and dark a document this truly is. And that, ultimately is the fantastic point of this classic… A-

4. TV Glee – Season 1, part 2

I had my doubts that this second set of episodes would hold the same power over the world as the first set, but I have been proven wrong. Now if only they could prove that the second set is as good. Each episode has so much plot and simultaneously so much music that it feels like a sprint to the finish line each time. This past week’s episode, “Home,” finally slowed down enough to give me that balance of humor and heart that I’ve come to love from this show. The Madonna episode was fun at best, saved by my two favorite Cheerios who I’m happy to report are becoming full fledged cast members in season 2. My fingers are crossed that this show finds its voice and lasting power without overexposure, because I can’t imagine my life without Sue Sylvester’s biting one-liners… B

5. MOVIE The Major and the Minor

My love of Billy Wilder’s work knows no bounds especially with this true early gem. With Ginger Rogers playing a brassy woman who must pretend to be 12 to get a reduced train ticket back home, you know you’re in for a bizarre treat. It’s all fun and games as Ray Milland falls for this beauty, but in true Wilder fashion, the implications are deep and dark. The thought of a grown man falling for a 12 year old is handled with amazing unsettling humor. And the Veronica Lake sight gag is truly belly laugh worthy. It’s an odd film but certainly fits beautifully into Wilder’s oeuvre… A


6. ALBUM American Idiot Broadway Cast Recording

Considering my immense enjoyment of the show, it’s no surprise that the recording, which seems to just be a living breathing document of the stage show, is equally as awesome. The music sounds fresh and immediate, the Tom Kitt orchestrations adding beautiful depth to what was already an amazing soundtrack in its original Green Day form. The focus track, “21 Guns” is astounding, but for my money it’s all about the enhanced percussion on “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” and the surreal quality of “Novocain.” The new track from Green Day doesn’t disappoint either… A


7. EVENT AIDS Foundation Chicago Gala

Galas come in all shapes and sizes, this one came mostly in a shade of gay. A room filled with tuxedoed men, it was a sea of penguins save for the shirtless boxers in the middle of the grand ballroom of the Hilton Chicago. Unfortunately the usually spectacular Kehoe designed centerpieces were lackluster, an odd mix of mirrors, red flowers and fiber optics. But all of that hardly matters when you realize the importance of the event itself in raising money and awareness to fight AIDS. And then there was The Bangles, and while “Manic Monday” sounded excellent, nothing could prepare me for their unreal attempt to look young and hip… seems hardly right to grade a charity event.

8. TV Fringe

The cases investigated in this procedural with a massive backstory are beyond scintillating. Everything is bizarre in a fascinating way, but it is that epic backstory that makes the show worthwhile. Very few series have created a universe so implausibly plausible, and it’s this very dichotomy that’s used to often horrific and thought provoking effect (the season one closer had me gasping). The second season has been reliable, save for a misstep with the ‘40s set musical episode that could only be loved by true devotees. For Walter Bishop alone, this show is worth tuning in to week after week… A

FOOD Caselulla

Wine, cheese and meat, is there anything better? The cheese comes excellently paired with odd delicacies that compliment both taste and texture expertly. Try the bacon wrapped sausages for a spicy delicacy because really, everything is better when wrapped in bacon. As sinful as it may be, the chocolate cake is a must to finish the meal, drenched in heavy cream it is a delight with every forkful… A

ALBUM Songs for Lulu Rufus Wainwright

It is such a pleasure to hear Rufus composing without the bombast of the past few albums. Each song plays like a dizzying Chopin nocturne with Rufus’ strangely elegant voice stretching across the arpeggios. I strongly suggest listening to the album while walking the streets of NYC. It’s amazing to hear the elements of the city play in and out of the melodies. It seems like the darkness of his mother’s death and the death of the music industry to create such wild concoctions of orchestrations have combined to create an elegant song cycle…B+

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