'Merriweather Post Pavilion':
by Animal Collective :
Sorry Howard County, but this indie album is probably going to be the coolest thing associated with Columbia all year. The band, which started out in Baltimore (but since moved on to bigger things), delivers its ninth and, most possibly, its most accessible album. It's far from Top-40, but it's quite dreamy and, at times, enthralling. In stores Tuesday.
TV's most intense show returns this week for its final 10 episodes. The crew of Galactica has finally found Earth after four seasons of searching. Too bad it's an inhabitable nuclear wasteland. Yet the Battlestar saga is far from over, and, if this week's episode is any indication, the show intends to go out with a bang. Airs 10 p.m. Friday on Sci-Fi.
'The Mystic Arts of Erasing:
All Signs of Death':
What happens to the grisly crime scene the cops and CSI dudes leave behind? Crime novelist Charlie Huston has some answers, but they aren't pretty. Combining an intriguing premise with lots of fast-paced, disillusioned dialogue, Huston delivers a brisk, if unsettling, read. An Oprah Club entry this is not. In stores Tuesday.
E. Faye Butler:
in 'Caroline, or Change':
This week is your last chance to catch Butler's turn as a conflicted maid in Center Stage's production of Tony Kushner's Caroline, or Change. Kushner's Caroline is a curmudgeon of a character, but Butler - with stirring vocals and telling grimaces - effortlessly connects with her audience. Show ends next Sunday.
For more: centerstage.org
Portrait of Barack Obama:
With the inauguration looming, everyone is indulging in a little Obama-rama, including the Contemporary Museum. A portrait of the prez-elect will be added Wednesday to Class Pictures, a show by artist Dawoud Bey. A friend and neighbor of the Obamas, Bey photographed Barack in his home last year.
For more: www.contemporary.org
'Ace of Cakes':
: Most wedding cakes don't feature bloodied body parts or scorch marks. Then again, Duff Goldman (below, left) and his crew at Charm City Cakes don't make most wedding cakes, which is probably why they have their own TV show. The Food Network show is back for a sixth season and, thankfully, it has lost none of its laid-back quirkiness. Airs 10 p.m. Thursday.
in 'The Wrestler':
Some may argue that the past-his-prime-athlete genre is, well, past its prime. But the hard-living Rourke (probably because he's wasn't really acting) is alternatively haunting and strangely endearing as washed-up pro-wrestler Randy "The Ram" Robinson. The Wrestler is painful to watch but in a good way. In theaters Friday.
Liz Ensz: at School 33:
Taking inspiration from Islamic art, Ensz creates engaging, large-scale patterns that also have subtle political undertones. The beautiful designs make a statement about conformity without being preachy. The Maryland Institute graduate's work appears as part of School 33's recently opened Two Person Juried Exhibition. On display through Feb. 7.
For more: school33.org
Viggo Mortensen and Ed Harris star as tough-guy lawmen in one strange Western. See, the rival gunslingers are the least of their problems. It's a fickle piano player played by Renee Zellweger who's the real threat. What unfolds is neither romantic nor explosive. Yet Appaloosa still packs a bittersweet punch. In stores Tuesday.
Facebook Friends Forever? Not if Burger King has its way. In a clever marketing ploy, the flame-broiled-burger joint promises a coupon for a juicy Whopper provided that you dump 10 of your friends on the popular social-networking Web site. But be warned, your quest for free grub at your friends' expense will be publicized for all to see.
For more: whoppersacrifice.com