Friday, May 28, 2010

Silly fun with 'Shrek' for the third go-around


"Shrek Forever After"
2 1/2 stars

By Joe Maniscalco

Fairy tale ogres are just as susceptible to post-marital malaise as anyone else. But unlike the big green guys, mortals don’t have access to magical little creatures who can zap tiresome spouses.

Just think of the demand if we did.

Well, in his latest cinematic outing, everyone’s favorite ogre, Shrek (Mike Myers), is so fed up with monotonous days filled with screaming kids, a harping wife and intrusive friends that he’s willing to strike a deal with the dastardly Rumpelstiltskin (Walt Dohrn) to make it all go away in “Shrek Forever After.”

Shrek longs for his bachelor days when he had a bad ogre rep and could visit the outhouse without a tour bus full of autograph-seekers gawking at him.

Immediately you might be thinking, “You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone,” but ogres like Shrek are stupid, so he’s got to find that out the hard way.

The hard way in this case is a twisted take on “It’s a Wonderful Life,” where Shrek has just one day to undo a world in which he was never born.

All of this is fine, but as in the previous Shrek adventures, the really funny parts come from ancillary characters who drop in with quick one-liners and then depart.

Antonio Banderas is a howl as the now-portly Puss in Boots, and both the Gingerbread guy and Pinocchio are still so silly you gotta laugh a little bit.

“Shrek Forever After” even manages to build on the Shrek mythology by teaching us something we never knew about ogres before. Here’s a hint — it has to do with their Andorian-like ears.
The adult references are also back — but rather than entertaining, they’re just creepy.

I, for one, wouldn’t want to have answer the question: “Daddy, why did that man’s toes start curling?”

“Shrek Forever After,” directed by Mike Mitchell. Starring Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy and Cameron Diaz. Runtime 1 hour, 33 minutes. Rated PG.

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The Weekend: 5.28-5.31

It's Memorial Day on Monday. That means a three-day mini-vacation for most of you. Here's what's going on in a neighborhood near you this long weekend.


Friday, May 28, 2010

Williamsburg: Junk Science bring their playful hip hop to the Knitting Factory.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Coney Island: Luna Park is officially open!

Gowanus: Score at the BKLYN Yard's swap meet.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

DUMBO: It's theater of tiny proportions at St. Ann's Toy Theater Festival.

Williamsburg: Speaking of Coney, watch a documentary about the former amusement park, Astroland.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Various locations: No need to leave Brooklyn this Memorial Day, check out our guide to what's going on in the borough, as well as where you can catch a parade.


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Shazzam! Waterfront Museum's circus series returns this June

By Meredith Deliso

It’s showtime on the showboat!

The popular Sunday circus series returns to the Waterfront Museum, a restored barge on the Red Hook waterfront, with a whole new season of acrobats, aerialists and jugglers in “Showboat Shazzam.”

For families acquainted with the barge and its variety show CIRCUSundays, have no fear: this is the same show, but with the name changed for fundraising purposes (apparently, state agencies aren’t so keen on giving grants to anything with the word circus in it).

As in past years, the show will include a variety of acts for a full circus experience — right at your feet.

“It’s the closest parents and children will be to circus performers,” said Karen Gersch, artistic director of the show, now in its 14th season on the barge. “It’s that proximity and intimacy that makes our series so successful.” (Successful, indeed. Last year, Brooklyn Paper reviewer Thurston Dooley III couldn’t stop raving.)

This year’s series starts on June 6 with the comedy trio Fidget, Loon & Tater; eccentric juggler Will Shaw; acrobats Rudy & Lea; aerialist Hilary Sweeney (pictured), who does her act on a hammock and a rope; and Rudi Macaggi, a winner of “America’s Got Talent” who performs comedy acrobatics (see that footage below).

Other highlights of the month-long series include a pirate — Billy Bones the Good Pirate! (June 13) — Professor Phineas Feelgood’s Flea Circus (June 20), and David Sharps, caretaker of the barge, performing a Chinese vase manipulation act (June 13).

“It’s always great to see the barge fill up with folks who had never been to Red Hook or the barge, as well as those who return every year,” said Sharps.

Because luckily, this showboat isn’t going anywhere.

Showboat Shazzam at the Waterfront Museum and Showboat Barge [Pier 44 at Conover and Beard streets in Red Hook, (718) 624-4719], Sundays in June at 1 pm and 4 pm. Tickets $16 for adults, $12 for kids (in advance). For info, visit www.waterfrontmuseum.org.


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Colorful and flavorful salad sparkles with summery flavors

By Helen Klein

As bright as their rinds, tangy and fragrant citrus fruits always add a sparkle to food.

A squeeze of lemon or lime juice — tart and refreshing — is a sure-fire way to ramp up flavors in a wide range of preparations, from appetizers and entrées to side dishes and desserts, cutting sweetness even as it intensifies the taste of a myriad of different foods.

Combined with a creamy ripe avocado, crisp chunks of cucumber and orange pepper, kernels of sweet corn and tantalizing bits of cilantro, lime juice comes into its own in a salad with south-of-the-border savor. The result provides a perfect accompaniment to a main course of grilled chicken, or can be one of a selection of salads served buffet-style at lunch.

Best of all, it’s as quick and easy to make as it is delicious.

Avocado and Cucumber Salsa
Serves 4-6 as a side dish

Ingredients
1 ear corn, boiled or grilled, then cut from the cob
3/4 avocado, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
1/2 sweet onion, chopped
1 orange or red pepper, cored, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
1 kirby cucumber, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
Juice of 1/2 lime
Extra virgin olive oil to equal lime juice
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Directions
Combine first five ingredients in a large serving bowl.

In a measuring cup or small bowl, whisk lime juice and olive oil together with garlic, cilantro, salt and pepper. Pour over vegetables, and toss to combine.

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Lev Grossman is still the 'Magic' man

Lev Grossman does not do magic tricks.

The author of “The Magicians” calls himself the “world’s most incompetent stage magician.” But it’s not for lack of trying.

“It turns out learning that stuff is incredibly boring; you’re doing the same thing over and over and over again,” said Grossman. “Like all writers, I’m a masochist — but even I’ve got limits.”

Luckily, Grossman does have a talent for writing about magic; his third novel — a coming-of-age story described as a “‘Harry Potter’ for grown-ups” thanks to its dollops of sex, drugs and dark magic — has been hailed by critics for its creativity and storytelling flair.

On June 3, the Clinton Hill resident celebrates the novel’s paperback release at powerHouse Arena in DUMBO, offering a chance for new readers to get acquainted with Quentin Coldwater, a brilliant Park Slope teen who finds that magic is real when he is accepted into an exclusive college of magic in upstate New York.

Beyond the new release, Grossman is still very much entrenched in the world he’s created; the author is currently at work on a sequel — “The Magician King,” to be published next fall — that catches up with the characters five years after the original.

“I built this whole world for the characters to live in,” said Grossman. “It’s all still set up and living in my head, so I figured why not set another story there before I tear it down forever?”
In that sense, who needs card tricks when you can create entire worlds?

Lev Grossman at powerHouse Arena [37 Main St. at Water Street in DUMBO, (718) 666-3049], June 3 at 7 pm. For info, visit www.levgrossman.com.

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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Swan song for Coney

The latest effort to jumpstart Coney Island’s future will hit this weekend with the opening of Luna Park — but one filmmaker is still trying to record the hardscrabble amusement district’s past.

For the past two years, Crown Heights filmmaker J.L. Aronson has been working on the documentary “Last Summer at Coney Island” (see the trailer below).

As the name suggests, the film is a swan song for Coney Island, documenting Astroland during its last few seasons — when city planners and the private developer Thor Equities sparred over differing visions for “saving” Coney Island.

Today, of course, that battle is over: the city won, and Astroland’s successor, Luna Park, will open this weekend. But will Coney Island really have a bright future? That’s still unclear.

Aronson hopes that a look back into history will help answer that question — but his film isn’t fully done. He still needs about $7,000 to to really polish it and submit it to festivals, which explains his timely benefit screening on May 30 at UnionDocs in Williamsburg.

“It will happen, one way or the other, but it depends on the many, many Coney Island fans to pitch in,” said Aronson. “The Coney Island that everyone has known for so long is going to vanish, so it needs to be documented.”

“Last Summer at Coney Island” benefit at UnionDocs [322 Union Ave. at Maujer Street in Williamsurg, (718) 395-7902], May 30 at 7:30 pm. Tickets $9-$20 (sliding scale donation). For info, visit www.lastsummeratconeyisland.com.


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Pumps & Pleats: Finding a non-dorky bike helmet


Story and photo by Michèle De Meglio

Is it possible to find a bike helmet that doesn’t make you look like a light bulb? Or a mushroom? Or just totally dorky?

Cyclists may be skeptical but Pumps & Pleats believes there’s always a way to be stylish.

My search for a hot helmet began at Central Sports on Kings Highway and East 14th Street in Midwood.

The two-story shop carries 900 pairs of sneakers and funky skateboards. With a matte black frame and yellow strap, the Triple Eight Brainsaver Rubber Helmet seemed like a good bet but it was dull and didn’t match my blue and white bicycle.

Ride Brooklyn on Bergen Street off Flatbush Avenue in Park Slope has an awesome collection of cruiser cycles and a friendly staff, but the helmets aren’t anything to write home about.

How could this be? Are there no cool helmets in all of Brooklyn?

As I prepared to ride the streets wearing an old Mets cap, an avid cyclist and coworker told me about Nutcase Helmets. They come in the craziest colors and prints imaginable! You can look like a watermelon, an eightball or a rainbow. So many choices!

I found my favorite style at Bespoke Bicycles on Lafayette Avenue in Fort Greene. The ocean blue Colorama helmet is covered with glitter and matches my bike perfectly. So sweet! So chic!

These helmets are so cool they’ll make you proud to say, “I’m a Nutcase!”

Bespoke Bicycles [64-B Lafayette Ave. between S. Elliott Place and S. Portland Avenue in Fort Greene, (718) 643-6816].

Michèle De Meglio is a native Brooklynite addicted to all things chic. Check out Pumps & Pleats each week for more adventures as she scours the borough for fab duds and accessories.

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Your guide to local parades

And if you want a traditional Memorial Day, hit one of the four parades around our town:
Canarsie Memorial Day Parade
May 31 at 11:30 am
Start: 92nd Street and Conklin Avenue

Gerritsen Beach Memorial Day Parade
May 31 at 10 am
Start: Gerritsen Avenue and Whitney Avenue

Greenpoint
May 30 at 9 am
Start: Manhattan Avenue and Driggs Avenue

Kings County Memorial Day Parade in Bay Ridge
May 31 at 11 am
Start: 87th Street and Third Avenue

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Stay in town to have a Memorial Day done right

Memorial Day means a three-day weekend for most of us — but why head to the beach when you can stay in Brooklyn? Here’s how to have fun while everyone else is taking in the sun:
Green-Wood’s 12th Annual Memorial Day Concert

Mark the day patriotically through song, with a concert by the ISO Symphonic Band at the Green-Wood Cemetery.

The inspired set will feature select compositions by Green-Wood Cemetery’s permanent residents — Fred Ebb, Leonard Bernstein, Louis Moreau Gottschalk, and Paul Jabara.
Bring your own picnic lunch and blanket and make an afternoon of it.

While you’re at the cemetery, stick around for the post-concert trolley tour, led by Green-Wood historian Jeff Richman and traveling to the cemetery’s most interesting spots, learn more about its permanent residents, and take in one of the best views of the Manhattan skyline in Brooklyn.

Memorial Day Concert at Green-Wood Cemetery [25th Street and Fifth Avenue, (718) 768-7300], May 31 at 2:30 pm. Free. Memorial Day Trolley Tour to follow at 4:30 pm. Tickets $10. Reservations recommended. For info, visit green-wood.com.

Parked

The BKLYN Yard in Gowanus isn’t just a great space to boogie on a Sunday afternoon, thanks to its premiere DJ dance series Sunday Best; it also boasts some top-notch foodie events, starting with Parked on May 31.

Get full on great eats from the city’s best food trucks, including traveling pizza vendor Pizzamoto, selections from the Greenpoint Food Market vendors, and Rickshaw Dumplings for the main event. For dessert, there’s almost too much to choose from, from Steve’s Key Lime Pie to Robicelli Cupcakes to Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream (which has branched out into a permanent space, with a store in Greenpoint). To help wash it all down, try the freshly made drinks from the Green Pirate Juice Truck.

Parked at BKLYN Yard (388 Carroll St. between Bond and Nevins streets in Gowanus, no phone), May 31 from 2-9 pm. For info, visit www.bklynyard.com.

DanceAfrica

There will be dancing in the street this Memorial Day, thanks to BAM’s DanceAfrica festival.
Dance troupes from Zambia, Dallas, Philadelphia and Brooklyn’s own BAM/Restoration DanceAfrica Ensemble will entertain at the Fort Greene venue, performing traditional dance and music to hip hop.

The day will also feature film screenings, an art exhibition, and an outdoor bazaar, with nearly 300 vendors from around the world transforming the streets around BAM into a global marketplace offering African, Caribbean, and African-American food, crafts and fashion.

Truth be told, the African cultural festival doesn’t really have anything to do with Memorial Day, but it’s not a bad way to spend your day off.

DanceAfrica at BAM [30 Lafayette Ave. between Ashland Place and St. Felix Street in Fort Greene, (718) 636-4100], May 31. Times and ticket costs vary. For info, visit www.bam.org.

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Latest Dodger exhibition at the Historical Society hits a homer!

By Ben Kochman

For Brooklyn baseball fans, the Dodgers’ 1957 move to California was as knee-buckling as a wicked curveball. But for true baseball fans, the love never left.

Starting next month, the Brooklyn Historical Society rekindles the flame with “Home Base: Memories of the Brooklyn Dodgers at Ebbets Field,” opening on June 3.

Digging deep into its extensive Dodger collection, the Brooklyn Heights-based society has pulled out memorabilia from the borough’s baseball heyday at the Flatbush diamond, including team photos, ticket stubs, old scorebooks from the 19th century, uniforms, baseball cards, and even seats from the Bedford Avenue bandbox, Ebbets Field.

Most valuable of all has to be the celebrated banner from the team’s 1955 World Series win.
In addition to the priceless memorabilia, the exhibition explores the complex relationship between the Dodgers and its home borough. Because here we are, more than 50 years after the fact, and we’re still talking about the one that got away.

“Home Base: Memories of the Brooklyn Dodgers at Ebbets Field” at the Brooklyn Historical Society [128 Pierrepont St. at Clinton Street in Brooklyn Heights, (718) 222-1241], June 3-April 24, 2011. Opening night celebration from 5:30-7:30 pm. Free. For info, visit www.brooklynhistory.com.

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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Get your own 'key to the city' with this artist's new project

Finally, there’s a key to the city that actually unlocks something.

Unlike those ceremonial souvenirs that the mayor gives to hero airline pilots (go, Sully!) and World Series champions (some Yankees have four of them!), a new art project has taken the spirit of the all-city pass and made something tangible out of it.

For instance, participants in Paul Ramírez Jonas’s “Key to the City” public art happening get a key that unlocks a locker at Gleason’s Gym in DUMBO (pictured), a room in the Brooklyn Museum and steel gates, padlocks, PO boxes, and secret doors all over town.

So how does it work? From June 3-27, the special keys — along with a booklet with information on how to get to participating venues, and what to do once you get there — can be picked up and exchanged between friends in an informal ceremony in a take on the time-honored tradition that bestows symbolic keys to do-gooders and dignitaries.

From there, participants can explore the city at their leisure, using the key to unlock gardens usually off limits to the public, or that door at the Brooklyn Museum concealing a secret painting usually not on display at the museum.

Other participating spots in Brooklyn include Cabinet magazine in Boerum Hill, Gleason’s, and the Coney Island branch of the public library.

The project is not so much about the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow — the locker at Gleason’s, for instance, will most likely be empty — but the literal and metaphorical act of unlocking a place that is new or familiar to you, as well as the opportunity to honor a friend with his very own “key to the city.”

“The tradition of the key to the city comes from the age of fortified cities, when a key could open the gates of a city like a home,” said Anne Pasternak, president of Creative Time, the arts group behind the project. “This new version is a functional sculpture that opens urban spaces to the public and honors everyday citizens.”

Because not everyone’s Derek Jeter.

“Key to the City,” June 3-27, at various locations. For info, including how to get a key, visit www.creativetime.org.

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Our exclusive Mus-o-meter registers Junk Science's "A Miraculous Kind Of Machine"

Junk Science began making music while Baje One and DJ Snafu were in high school in the mid-1990s, but the band didn’t release anything until 2005, with “Feeding Einstein,” introducing people to their clever, lo-fi hip hop. That was followed in 2007 with “Gran’Dad’s Nerve Tonic,” a conceptual album united by the theme of the tonic itself. The duo’s latest album, “A Miraculous Kind Of Machine,” out on Baje’s new label Modern Shark (with a release party this Friday at the Knitting Factory), finds the two maturing — both in sound and in subject matter. But to really get a sense of what it’s about, we leave that up to our exclusive Mus-o-meter.

Take the rhythms and voice of El-P from his 2002 album “Fantastic Damage.” Then add …







The quirkiness of De La Soul’s 1989 debut “3 Feet High and Rising.” Then add …








The lo-fi sensibilities of Beck’s 1996 album “Odelay.” The result?








Junk Science’s new album, “A Miraculous Kind Of Machine.”


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Southpaw's 'Hipster Demolition Night' is music without pretense

Jay Banerjee hates hipsters.

The Manhattan musician dislikes them so much he is creating a night of irony-free garage, beat and power pop to battle what he calls “hipster noodling” — art-damaged, non-musical “music.”

It’s called Hipster Demolition Night, and it’s happening on May 27 at Southpaw in Park Slope.

“It’s a miniature revolution — a revolt against what’s been dominating the scene for far too long,” said Banerjee, 27, who rehearses in Greenpoint with his band, the Heartthrobs.

“We’re battling hipsters for the quote-unquote underground rock scene. Ninety-five percent of ‘American Idol’ winners that you hear on the radio — that’s not even part of the battleground here.”

It’s not a violent revolution, mind you; Banerjee’s weapon of choice is the guitar, his ammo chord progression, song structure, and “music you can sing along to.”

“I don’t advocate violence, because I don’t hit men with glasses, even Day-Glo orange ones,” said Banerjee.

In addition to his band — an early-Beatles, new wave-influenced four-piece — Banerjee’s recruits include The Split Signals (featuring Jonny Chan, a veteran of the garage rock scene), The Above, another Brit invasion-inspired act, and The Paul Collins Beat, led by the founding member of the power pop bands The Beats and The Nerves, who originally recorded “Hanging on the Telephone,” made popular by Blondie.

“He still rocks,” said Banerjee of Collins. “He’s the greatest.”

The musician envisions Hipster Demolition Night being a regular thing, and even has the next one set for the summer, this time in the hipster heartland – at Glasslands Gallery in Williamsburg.

“Anything called Hipster Demolition Night has to be in Brooklyn,” said Banerjee. “If you’re holding it in Manhattan, you might as well hold it in Iowa.”

Though that would be, of course, a hipster breeding ground.

“Hipster Demolition Night” at Southpaw [125 Fifth Ave. between Sterling and St. John places in Park Slope, (718) 230-0236], May 27 at 8 pm. Tickets $10. For info, visit www.facebook.com/greatmusic.

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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Play me, I'm Yours

Want to break out "Fur Elise''?


From June 21-July 5, 60 upright pianos will be placed throughout the city in a public art project by Luke Jerram called "Play Me, I'm Yours."

In Brooklyn, you can find a seat in the following locations:

Bensonhurst Park
Brooklyn Bridge/DUMBO
Coney Island Boardwalk
Court Street
Fort Greene Park
Fulton Mall, Downtown
McCarren Park
MetroTech
Prospect Park: Grand Army Plaza
Von King Park

Now all you need is someone to play "Heart and Soul" with.

Photo credit: Luke Jerram, London 2009

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A 'Diamond'-studded night of burlesque

Neil Diamond still inspires women to take off their clothes.

On May 27, Brooklyn’s native son is honored through one of the best ways possible — burlesque — in the show “The Jazz Stripper” at Coney Island’s Burlesque at the Beach.

“What better way to celebrate Coney Island than with a show combining two of my deepest and most abiding loves — burlesque and Neil Diamond?” said host and producer Nasty Canasta, who’s had a lifelong appreciation of the man known as “The Jewish Elvis.” “After all, we were both born right here in Brooklyn — and we were both naked at the time!”

The Coney Island extravaganza premiered in Williamsburg in February, 2009; this rare repeat performance will feature old favorites, new surprises, the return of the “Neil Or No Neil” trivia contest, and a special finale tribute to the Lounge Dylan.

Also expect a Diamond-studded night of tassel-twirling tributes to the singer-songwriter, with performances by host Canasta, plus the macabre Creamy Stevens, the exotic Gal Friday, and the quirky Sapphire Jones. From the male front, Bastard Keith and Tigger will be supplying some entertaining boylesque.

The night will be sure to make you a believer.

“The Jazz Stripper” at Burlesque at the Beach [1208 Surf Ave. at W. 12th Street in Coney Island, (718) 372-5159], May 27 at 9 pm. Tickets $10. For info, visit www.SweetAndNastyBurlesque.com.

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Monday, May 24, 2010

MacGruber is one big bomb

"MacGruber"
1 star

By Thomas Tracy

The jokes in “MacGruber” are a lot like the explosives the title character can cobble together out of chewing tobacco, dental floss, bottle caps and chewed-up tennis balls: everyone hopes they’ll go off, but they always fizzle out miserably.

So does this latest attempt to bring a “Saturday Night Live” sketch to the big screen. While the MacGyver-homage/farce may elicit some chuckles at 12:30 am on a Sunday morning following a drinking binge that would put the Blues Brothers to shame, it certainly won’t resonate with prime time audiences the same way “Wayne’s World” did.

Heck, it might not even garner the same praise given to “It’s Pat” and “Stuart Saves His Family” — both of which did far worse than “Night At the Roxbury” and “Superstar.” And we remember those cinema classics, don’t we?

When we first catch up with him, MacGruber (Will Forte), the legendary super-soldier who was declared dead 10 years ago, is living a very Rambo-esque life in a South American monastery.

But duty calls, and MacGruber is quickly suited up in his flannel shirt, mullet, removable car radio and an unlimited amount of home-made weapons to battle the dastardly Dieter Von Cunth (Val Kilmer), an old foe who has a nuclear warhead pointed at Washington D.C.

At his side is longtime love interest Vicki St. Elmo (Kristen Wiig — the only other “Saturday Night Live” alum to take a chance on this bomb) and Lt. Dixon Piper (Ryan Phillippe relegated to the role of straight man). Together they take on about a half-dozen humdrum adventures, all the while thinking of hackneyed ways to make fun of the villain’s unfortunate last name.

The result is quite painful for those of us who don’t find dancing around with a celery stalk up your rectum entertainment.

Yet Kilmer somehow makes the most of his role and almost seems to relish playing a zany bad guy.

In turn, Forte plays MacGruber with all the boneheaded bravado he can muster, which, once again, works best in five-minute late-night sketches.

But even all that cornball confidence gets boring real quick in a 99-minute film, no matter how many silly contraptions he can make out of household garbage (which are very few) or how many throats he rips out (which were way too many).

"MacGruber." Starring Will Forte, Kristen Wiig and Val Kilmer. Directed by Jorma Taccone. Running time: 99 minutes. Rated R for strong crude and sexual content, violence, language and some nudity.

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'Score'! Swap meet returns on May 29

By Elizabeth Dana

You’re sure to score at this event.

On May 29, “Score! Pop Up Swap” returns to the BKLYN Yard, a mega-swap in Gowanus where items like a Homer Simpson bottle opener, a working set of turntables and a vintage box set of 1930s exotic dancing music are up for grabs — for free.

How does it works? Bring items you want to get rid of and, for a small admission fee, you can take home “whatever you want, as much as you want,” said organizer Jenny Gottstein.

Donations are organized by “curators” who sort them into boutique-type displays. Last year’s favorites like hip bibliophile collective Desk Set and indie music mag Showpaper will be there again to run the books and music departments.

After last year’s “Score!” brought out more than 1,600 people, organizers are expanding to include more departments, including an electronics boutique run by Brooklyn hackerspace Alpha One Labs and a crafts section managed by DIY superpower Etsy.

The event draws everyone from young fashionistas browsing the vintage accessories to families with young children checking out the Kiddie Corner boutique to music nerds scoring vinyl and gear.

“There’s such a wide range of participants that there’s a great cross-pollination of items changing hands,” said Greenpointer Gottstein.

The event is also focusing more on fashion this year, enlisting Brooklyn-based vintage clothing Web site Market Publique to organize the donated clothes and accessories. There will also be photographer, stylist and models to create a “look book” of fashionable Score! outfits.

“You can really walk away stylishly from a Score! swap,” said Gottstein. “There are a lot of gems.”

“Score! Pop Up Swap” at BKLYN Yard (400 Carroll St.between Bond and Nevins streets in Gowanus), May 29, noon-6 pm. Admission $3 with RSVP, $5 without. For more, visit www.scorepopupswap.com.

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Friday, May 21, 2010

The Weekend: 5.21-5.23

Don't have any weekend plans? Check out our guide to see what's happening in a neighborhood near you.


Friday, May 21

Bushwick: Hang out in your parent's basement, just for old time's sake.

Red Hook: Get your fill of folk at Jalopy.

Downtown: It's poetry in motion at the Kumble Theater.

Saturday, May 22

Secret Williamsburg location: Your prom gets a do-over.

Bushwick: It's party time at 3rd Ward.

Sunday, May 23

Williamsburg: It's your last chance to run up walls.

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Puppet collection finds new home at Brooklyn College

From the miniature, to the gigantic.

As librarian of the Puppet Museum, Theresa Linnihan oversees over 100 puppets, some as tall as 20 feet, created by the Brooklyn- and Boston-based Puppeteers Coop for festivities like the Park Slope Halloween Parade.

The museum previously found a home in Grand Army Plaza for four years, inside the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Memorial Arch.

“It was a mysterious place,” said Linnihan, who's participating in the Toy Theater Festival at St. Ann's Warehouse next month. “People never knew you could go inside.”

Of course, those who did would be privy to puppet shows and parade-style puppets, taken out for parades and performances, as well as loaned to filmmakers, birthday parties and even protests.

With the arch leaking, the museum was forced to leave two years ago, setting up shop ever since at Brooklyn College, in the Arts Lab at Roosevelt House.

“It’s been more difficult to get the word out that the library is there,” said Linnihan.

Linnihan would love to go back to the arch — the last she heard it would take about $300,000 to repair the roof — but is grateful to have a home in Brooklyn still.

“What would you do with 100 large puppets?” said Linnihan. “There’s no room under the bed.”

The Puppet Museum at Brooklyn College [2900 Bedford Ave. at Campus Road in Midwood, (718) 853-7350]. By appointment only.

Photo by Ted Levin

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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Pumps & Pleats: Get pretty at Dashing Diva


Story and photo by Michèle De Meglio

Spring fashions are all about sundresses, bright bags and cute sandals, which means it’s time to get a pedicure.


There’s tons of cheap nail salons in Brooklyn but some of them could make a gal scramble for the nearest bottle of Purell.

Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a cute and clean place to get your nails trimmed and painted? Well, there is!

Dashing Diva on Montague Street in Brooklyn Heights is bringing high-end pampering to the borough’s fashionistas.

The prices are higher than what you’d find in typical hole-in-the-wall salons but the Diva experience is so worth it. Friendly nail technicians use a brand new tool kit on each customer, the entire salon is draped in bubblegum pink and, most importantly, there’s free cosmopolitans on Thursdays and Fridays from 5-9 p.m. Woo-hoo!

But let’s stay on track, this guide isn’t about boozing it up. It’s about finding the perfect polish for spring.

Last year was all about Chanel’s coveted sea-foam green — or the Wet ‘n Wild knockoff that most gals passed off as the real thing. This season is painted in gray. Literally.

Coral and peach are traditional tones for spring but soft, muted gray is all the rage nowadays. When you think about it, gray is the perfect neutral polish to complement your fuschia maxi dress or ocean blue tank top because it allows the garments’ bright shades to steal the spotlight.

With your “Concrete Playground” hue, you’ll be the true star!

Dashing Diva [130 Montague St. between Henry and Clinton streets in Brooklyn Heights, (718) 802-1788].

Michèle De Meglio is a native Brooklynite addicted to all things chic. Check out Pumps & Pleats each week for more adventures as she scours the borough for fab duds and accessories.

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Underground art

Most people fled adolescence to escape the tedium of just hanging out in your parents’ basement on a Friday night. But this week, Hiding Gallery is bringing you back.

For its latest show, “In My Parents’ Basement,” on May 21, the Bushwick gallery has redone its walls for a retro, wood paneling look, adorning it with artwork created in the same free spirit that a basement hideout might have provided to bored youth.

Participating artists include Tao “I Stole from American Apparel” Lin, Two Tears, Nina Palucci, and singer Conrad Keely from …And You Will Know Us From the Trail of Dead, who curated the exhibition with Joe Jagos.

“Like a sort of adolescent shaman practice, youth of recent generations have been known to retreat to the insulated confines of their subterranean free-for-alls, often establishing a certain primal communion with the seeds of expressive ambition,” said Jagos, who premieres an animation that night.

“These tendencies blossom in play, so often sprung from boredom and pubescent discontent, producing works of all mediums, perhaps most iconically in the formation of ‘the basement band.’”

With that, the night will also feature musical performances by Gardens and Electric Flowers.

“In My Parents’ Basement” at Hiding Gallery [292 Ellery St. between Marcus Garvey Boulevard and Broadway in Bushwick], May 21 at 9 pm. For info, visit www.hidinggallery.com.

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On The Market

Get involved in the Market Hotel project.


Since cops shut down the Bushwick venue last month, proprietor Todd Patrick, pictured at left fixing the sound system before a set, has launched a new initiative to create a sustainable, all ages, open-to-the-community, 7-nights-a-week home for independent music and art.

The next project meeting is tonight at 8 pm at the space (957 Broadway at Myrtle Avenue).
More about the project:

"Market Hotel has existed for over two years and in that time has hosted countless legendary events and drawn huge international notice... all of this under the constraints of operating completely underground and with no budget. Now the time has come to channel that momentum and create a fully realized space that serves the whole community, that will help define the NYC / Brooklyn scene into the future.

MARKET HOTEL PROJECT is a new not-for-profit organisation dedicated to swiftly reopening and improving the Market Hotel space, by making the venue more viable, comfortable, safe, and better able to weather legal attention. Especially in these days of ever-encroaching commercialism and corporatism in "indie rock," we envision a space that is a non-commercial "spiritual home" for independent rock music and indie art - but also is sustainable and sanctioned enough to expand indie horizons and open our doors to music and art from the rest of our diverse Bushwick community."

Have ideas? E-mail markethotelproject@gmail.com, or head to the meeting.

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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Prom redux

This night is sure to be epic.

On May 22, your prom gets a do-over with The Epic Prom, a 1950s-themed dinner party in Williamsburg that is all about reliving your prom the way it should have been.

That means swing music from the Harlem James Gang (pictured) and vinyl spun by DJ Matt Mikas — with some slow dances to be thrown in for good measure (and bad memories!).

Kicking things off, will be a “grand march” a la Soul Train, with guests dancing down the line before making their way into the prom’s location — a gymnasium, of course — for a cocktail hour created by mixologist Cervantes.

On the food front, Brooklyn culinary personalities Theo Peck and Nick Suarez — of the culinary competition The Food Experiments — will be creating a cafeteria-themed feast, featuring a typical school menu but with a twist, for your discernible adult palate (take, for instance, the chicken confit “McNuggets,” or the Pulled Pork Sloppy Joe’s).

This being prom and all, the main concern is what to wear, and organizers Adam Aleksander and Brian Quinn recommend thinking “Grease” and Footloose” — 1950s-themed dress to go along with the theme. Think pastel-colored, solid-color suits for the gents and waist-pinching dresses with full skirts for the ladies.

“The whole idea is to give adults a chance to relive one of the most vital experiences in their lives, their prom,” said Aleksander. “Whether they had a good time or bad time, went or didn’t go, this is their chance to do it the way they’ve been imagining for many years.”

At this epic event, you’re not so much reliving prom, you’re reinventing it.

The Epic Prom is on May 22 at a secret Catholic school gymnasium in Williamsburg (location announced the day before to paid guests), from 9 pm to midnight. Tickets $75, including dinner, drinks and dancing. For info, visit www.epicprom.com.

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It's party time at 3rd Ward

By Aaron Short

3rd Ward is turning 4-years-old this month and throwing one heck of a hootenanny.

The Morgan Avenue arts organization, home to gallery exhibits, art classes, and late-night warehouse revelry, is putting out all the stops for its birthday on May 22, with live bands, free workshops and lots of barbecue.

Founder Jason Goodman is opening his space to the public by helping the community blow off some steam just before summer starts while recognizing some of its hard-working member artists.

“With the economy in such bad shape, we weren’t sure how our members, most of whom are creative freelancers, would fare. It turned out they needed us more than ever,” said Goodman.

Last year, Sen. Chuck Schumer crashed the party and participated in a synchronized cycling workshop, while The Meat Hook’s Tom Mylan butchered and grilled up a whole pig.
There’ll be more surprises this year.

So far, the arts center confirmed the participation of Bushwick Mobile/Synchronized Cycling, which will attempt to dance on BMX bikes and a new food venture launched just for the occasion.

For the more do-it-yourself minded, though there will be several new workshops on bookbinding, silversmith, and woodworking with reclaimed lumber, while bands including Pink Noise, Stumblebum Brass Band and Hank & Cupcakes will entertain the crowds.

The highlight of the afternoon will be a film and music collaboration sponsored by Moviehouse, where four DJs will face off, interpreting live music to scenes of short films on screen behind them.

Moviehouse founder Chris Henderson said he owes nearly everything to 3rd Ward, which has helped the low-budget organization flourish by showing free film screenings in Williamsburg at its space for the past two years.

“They’re our home and biggest supporter. They do the majority of the marketing and they don’t get involved too much creatively, which means we can just do our show. We’ve grown in a large part because of our association with Third Ward. They’re awesome,” said Henderson.

Birthday BBQ at 3rd Ward [195 Morgan Ave. at Stagg Street in Bushwick, (718) 715-4961], May 22 at 2 pm. Free. For info, visit www.3rdward.com.

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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

That's folk, all! Brooklyn fest opens this Friday

By Stephen Witt

The Brooklyn Folk Festival has already gotten too big for its britches!

The second annual event not only features a slew of the borough’s best musicians at Jalopy on Columbia Street, but has added extra shows at Cabrini Urban Meadow Park on President Street between Columbia and Van Brunt streets.

You can thank banjo player and blues folklorist Eli Smith for the expansion of the May 21-23 event. As he did last year, Smith has beaten the bushes to find an eclectic mix of old-time music, blues, pre-blues, jug band music, New Orleans jazz folk songwriting, Greek, African and Mexican folk music.

“It’s not so much getting big acts for the festival, but about getting quality acts,” said Smith. “That’s why the Mexican folk band, Radio Jarocho, Gambian kora player Salieu Suso and American blues and folk musician Blind Boy Paxton are highlights of the festival.”

Other highlights include North Carolina banjo player and ballad singer Clifton Hicks, singer/songwriters Feral Foster and Mamie Minch, blues artist Ernie Vega, and Smith’s own Dust Busters Band.

String musicians looking to learn new folk techniques will find the blues guitar workshop with Bob Malenky and old-time banjo workshop with John Cohen helpful.

Beyond that, there will also be square dancing on May 23, when folk music aficionados and musicians alike can get to stepping.

“It will be called by Dave Harvey of the New York City Barn Dance,” said Smith. “He’s a very good caller and the dance will have special musical guests.”

Brooklyn Folk Festival at Jalopy [315 Columbia St. between Woodhull and Rapelye streets in Red Hook, (718) 395-3214], May 21-23. For info, visit www.brooklynfolkfest.com.

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Go to Southpaw to laugh at cancer

By Elizabeth Dana

Cancer is hilarious. At least, it is at Southpaw this month.

On May 20, the Park Slope bar hosts “Comedy for Cancer,” a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society that’s aimed at “people you don’t see at fundraisers,” said Garland Harwood (pictured at last year's event), a cancer survivor who’s organizing the night of comedy for the second year in a row. “It’s not a Bill Cosby crowd.”

This year’s benefit includes rising comedy star Sean Patton, who was recently featured on “Jimmy Kimmel Live.” Returning from last year’s show are Adam Newman, Trevor Williams and Nick Ross, a regular at Upright Citizen’s Brigade and on CollegeHumor.com.

Ross, a cancer survivor as well, doesn’t shy away from including his experiences in his routine; he even has a whole one-man show about going through cancer treatment called, “Highly Evolved Human” that’s toured the country.

“So, why do a show about cancer?” Ross shot out at the audience at last year’s benefit. “I don’t know. Maybe I just want to get it out of my system.”

Other bits of his routine explore what it’s like to tell your friends you have cancer when you’re in your mid-20s and the realities of dating when you’re about to go through eight months of chemotherapy.

“He doesn’t make light of cancer, but he makes light of all the hilarious things that happen to you when you have cancer,” said Harwood.

Maybe laughter really is the best medicine.

Comedy for Cancer at Southpaw [125 Fifth Ave. at Sterling Place in Park Slope, (718) 230-0236], May 20 at 8 pm. Tickets $10 in advance, $15 at the door. For more, visit comedyforcancer.org.

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Monday, May 17, 2010

Wading though 'Robin Hood'

"Robin Hood"
Two stars

By Gary Buiso

“Robin Hood” is filmed competently and acted well, but the revisionist tale of the legendary archer ultimately can’t see the Sherwood Forest from the trees.

Director Ridley Scott (“Alien”) crafts a satisfying enough epic, but the film is unnecessarily muddy, wading through dense brush to tell a prequel that is devoid of both originality and merriment.

Russell Crowe plays Robin, the dashing figure of lore who plundered the rich to give to the poor. But Crowe is no dandy like Errol Flynn from the classic 1938 film.

In the 2010 version, Robin Longstride is a blood-soaked commoner fighting alongside the likes of King Richard the Lionheart, returning from the not-so-dandy Crusades. The king takes an arrow to the neck, and Robin is charged with returning his crown to England because the gent initially in charge of the crown, Sir. Robert Loxley, suffers the wrong end of a broadsword.

Loxley beseeches Robin to return his sword to his father, Walter (Max von Sydow), back in Nottingham. There, Robin will meet Loxley Jr.’s brassy widow, Marion (Cate Blanchett), and adopt the identity of her dead hubby, at the request of the elder Loxley, so his daughter-in-law can retain title to the land. She’s skeptical of Robin — “I sleep with a dagger” — but we know the archer will make her quiver soon enough.

Meanwhile, Nottingham is overtaxed by Richard’s successor, King John (Oscar Isaac), whose chancellor Godfrey (Mark Strong) is secretly plotting with the French to overrun the motherland. It’s up to Robin and an assembled band to fight for an ungrateful crown and stump for social justice along the way. “You build a county like you build a cathedral — from the ground up,” he says.

The film’s foil is the script, by Brian Helgeland (“Mystic River”), which is confusing and bogged down by palace politics and indistinguishable battle sequences.

Only in the last minutes of “Robin Hood” is the “legend” born. His cinematic rebirth could have been less painful.

“Robin Hood.” Rated PG-13 for violence including intense sequences of warfare, and some sexual content. 140 minutes. With Russell Crowe, Cate Blanchett, William Hurt, Mark Strong, Max von Sydow, Oscar Isaac and Danny Huston.

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This bad idea sounds pretty damn sexy

Jonny Porkpie has a bad idea.

In a venue that already pushes the limits, the unofficial burlesque mayor of New York City is encouraging his burlesque beauties to do absolutely anything they want.

The show — “Bad Ideas” — comes to Coney Island’s Burlesque at the Beach this Thursday, with some of the best in the business bringing new cards to the stage.

There’ll be heartbreaker BB Heart; the vivacious Jo Boobs; Legs Malone, the girl with the 34-and-a-half-inch inseam; and Peekaboo Point (pictured), the fastest tassel-twirler from East to West.

“The first act will be a glorious showcase of the wonders of the modern burlesque, filled with beautiful women performing the brilliant acts which best exemplify their skill, humor and sexiness,” said Porkpie.

During the second act, the ladies will be given free reign, challenged by ringmaster Porkpie to bring to life their most-outrageous ideas.

“It will be a fantastic freakin’ trainwreck,” said Porkpie.

This bad idea just might turn out to be pretty great.

Jonny Porkpie’s Bad Ideas at Coney Island USA [1208 Surf Ave. at W. 12th Street in Coney Island], May 20 at 9 pm. Tickets $10. For info, visit www.jonnyporkpie.com.

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Talk about a HEYDAY

POYKPAC has the Internet to thank for its fame, but the Brooklyn comedy troupe still likes to do things live.

At the new monthly show “Heyday” at Public Assembly, the troupe behind the satirical “Hipster Olympics,” will, yes, be trying out new video pieces, as well as stand-up and sketch.

“We get to do things that we could never do online,” said Ryan Hunter, a member of the troupe, whose acronomic name stands for “Pictures Of Your Kids Pooping And Crying.” “There’s nothing truly organic about the experience of watching a screening, no relationship with the audience, whereas on stage, you get to have that relationship.”

Their videos — including a live-action spin on the classic Mario Brothers video games that has more than 23 million YouTube views — are hugely popular, but POYKPAC doesn’t like to follow the same recipe.

“We try not to repeat ourselves too much,” said Hunter. “Even when something’s successful, we want to come out with something different.”

Still, the group likes the video game format — a recent video, “I’m Not Drunk Game,” is a short in the style of an old school game where the objective is to make it to your car and drive home without getting stopped by friends, or the cops.

The troupe has also been at work on a TV show, a comedy in the vein of a travel channel show, but where the inept hosts get run out of town each episode. The pilot has the cast backpacking across Queens — the poor man’s Europe.

That video should be ready to screen at the Heyday. Sometimes you just have to give the people what they want.

“Heyday: A Night of Comedy” at Public Assembly [70 N. Sixth St. between Kent and Wythe avenues in Williamsburg, (718) 384-4586], May 18 at 8 pm. Tickets $3. For info, visit www.poykpac.com.

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Friday, May 14, 2010

The Weekend: 5.14-5.16

Here's our guide to the weekend and what's going on in a neighborhood near you.

Friday, May 14

DUMBO: See rare photos by Mark Garanger at St. Ann's Warehouse in DUMBO.

Fort Greene: The zombie king - George Romero - takes Brooklyn.

Dyker Heights: The Genesis Rep performs "Romeo and Juliet" like you've never seen it before.

Boerum Hill: Re/Dress NYC hosts a fashion show.

Saturday, May 15

Red Hook: A new venture by the Red Hook food vendors opens today.

Fort Greene: It's a holy trinity from Sarah Ruhl at the Irondale Center.

Park Slope: Celebrate spring with puppets!

Sunday, May 16

Park Slope: Score a new (for you) used bike.

Williamsburg: Get a taste of Williamsburg and Greenpoint. Then head to the after party at Brooklyn Bowl with the Postelles.

Prospect Heights: Raise your toes and raise some funds for LAVA at the dance troupe's handstand-a-thon.

Park Slope: Hear "Tusk"in its entirety by some Fleetwood Mac devotionals.

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South-of-the-Border sass

By Helen Klein

I’ve been cooking long enough to know that pretty much any recipe — other than for baked goods — is eminently malleable.
All you need is to apply the concept from one recipe to a different set of ingredients and, voilá … a whole new dish poses for its close-up.

Take, for instance, one of my family favorites, shepherd’s pie. That stolid British-inspired dish — perfect for a cold winter night — gets South-of-the-Border sass, leaving rainy-day tweeds behind for sunny serapes, thanks to the addition of corn, colored peppers, garlic and tortillas.

Now, I’m not saying to scrap tradition. Rather, I believe that taste buds react favorably when a tried-and-true favorite is upended and updated.

That certainly was true for my Tex-Mex take on a dish that’s heartening and hearty, flavorful but not fabulous.

Topped with homemade mashed potatoes, the dish saluted its country of origin while living large thanks to big flavors such as chili powder, oregano and pepper jack cheese.

If you have leftover mashed potatoes, you can finish this recipe reasonably quickly. Leave yourself about 45 minutes to an hour to pull this one-dish meal together, including oven time.

Tex-Mex Shepherd’s Pie
Serves six

Ingredients
1-1/2 lb. ground beef
1-2 small colored peppers, cored, seeded and diced
1 small onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 15-oz can kernel corn, drained
2-1/2 large plum tomatoes, chopped
1 cup white wine
1 tbl. chili powder
1 tsp. ancho chili powder
1 tsp. oregano
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
3 eight-inch tortillas, or as needed
2 cups mashed potatoes, or more as needed
1-2 tbl. butter, cut into small bits
1/2 cup grated pepper jack cheese

Directions
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spray large frying pan with cooking spray, then brown beef in its own fat over medium heat. When beef is browned, add onion, garlic and peppers, and continue cooking till vegetables are soft and golden. Then, add tomatoes, corn, wine and spices and continue cooking, over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, till mixture is reduced and flavors are combined, about 15-20 minutes.

Place one tortilla at the bottom of a nine-inch diameter casserole. Add one third of the meat mixture, then another tortilla and continue layering until all meat is used. You should end up with meat at the top. Then, add mashed potatoes, spreading across the top until meat is completely covered. Sprinkle with butter and cheese.

Place casserole in oven, and cook until cheese is melted and golden, five to 10 minutes.

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