January 24, 2011

O: A Presidential Novel
Well. Isn”€™t this fun? An anonymous author has penned a book on President Obama”€”or, rather, a presidential candidate only identified as “€œO.”€ The shrouded secrecy of the author, purported to be someone “€œwho has been in the room with Barack Obama,”€ has created a rapid-fire guessing game around Washington. Could Robert Gibbs, Politico’s Ben Smith or even Rahm Emanuel really be behind this fictional tale set in the 2012 election season? Joe Klein was eventually outed as the author of 1996’s similar Primary Colors, so it’s unlikely for this political sneak to remain secret for long. The Releasing of the book on Tuesday, the day of Obama’s highly-anticipated State of the Union addresses, is a cute move, and while the account isn”€™t is dishy as lookie-loos might like, it’s still a quick, amusing read.

33 Variations, The Ahmanson Theatre, Los Angeles, January 30 “€“ March 6
A Broadway favorite last year, Moisés Kaufman’s play about a Beethoven scholar made the long cross-country trek and will soon be playing again in Southern California. (It first opened in La Jolla two years ago.) Jane Fonda was splendid as the ill musicologist committed to researching the composer’s final days, and is thankfully reprising her Tony-nominated role. Apparently Fonda took well again to the stage; the 73-year-old hadn”€™t seen the Great White Way in 46 years. It’s her Los Angeles debut and Fonda’s decided to blog for the occasion. She recently wrote “€œI realized today that I will have to concentrate on re-learning my lines. I have no trouble with lines but, still, it’s not like they”€™re just there, waiting to be released.”€ Part music lesson, part performance (a live pianist is onstage throughout), 33 Variations reaches across centuries to create a surprisingly moving show.

Jim Nutt: Coming into Character, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, January 29 “€“ May 29
There’s really no more appropriate place to display the work of Jim Nutt, the Chicago painter whose creative, culture-based paintings are as amusing as they are confusing. Nutt is a member of the Chicago Imagists, a faction of surrealist artists from the 1960s that shunned New York and exhibited mainly at Chicago’s Hyde Park Art Center. Among these imagists was a group called The Hairy Who, of which Nutt was also a member. His first major show was, unsurprisingly, at the MCA in 1974. His most recent works focus primarily on female figures depicted in a colorful, playful way and the museum is heralding them as changing the city’s art scene. Locals will appreciate the exhibition, and passers-by will love the new introduction to a truth-teller.

The 17th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards, TNT, January 30
The Golden Globes kicked off the nonstop awards coverage last week, but the race between all those shoo-in Oscar contenders is looking ever more muddled. Just this weekend, The King’s Speech topped The Social Network for the main prize”€”despite previous Golden Globe and Critics Choice Award wins. Now if history’s any indication, the stuttering king will conquer the nerds come Oscar night. (PGA’s best picture winner has gone on to win the best picture Oscar 21 years in a row.) But another way to anticipate the awards show night is the Screen Actors Guild Awards. Alec Baldwin, Hilary Swank, Amy Poehler and, yes, Betty White will present to the winners, one of which is almost certainly Colin Firth. The race is still a toss-up between leading ladies: Could Annette Bening upset newly pregnant and glowing Natalie Portman for the win? And will everyone please stop talking about Ricky Gervais?

The Roses by Will Ryman, along Park Avenue, January 25 “€“ May 31
Despite the frigid temperatures and piles of dirty snow, greenery is blooming in the middle of New York City. A new public art installation will sprout on Tuesday between 57th street and 67th street. Will Ryman is the creative genius behind the infusion of the spring flowers, made to imitate the tiny tulips that typically line the streets. These 38 flowery creations will range from three to 25 feet with scattered rose petals in between. The only thing missing is the trash that usually litters vegetative surroundings, but the committees in charge of the artworks nixed the coffee cup and bag of Doritos that Ryman wanted to include”€”for fear of inciting litterers. At least thieves won”€™t be encouraged to swipe anything from the medians”€”each of the flowers weighs up to 250 pounds.


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