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The Month Ahead

Rufus Wainwright’s latest album, “House” specialties and everything else to watch, read and listen to this month

POP SCIENCE
Rufus Wainwright brings his rarefied pipes to music’s most accessible genre

“I just wanted it to be something you could put on at a party that wouldn’t clear the room,” Rufus Wainwright says of the lush, hook-laden Out of the Game, his seventh studio album. “I’ve made a few of those. Not that they’re bad records, but they kind of required your undivided attention. This one I wanted to be more inviting.” To that end, the troubadour paired up with producer Mark Ronson, the pop wunderkind behind albums by Amy Winehouse, Lily Allen and Adele, and led an ensemble including soul outfit The Dap-Kings, Sean Lennon and Wilco’s Nels Cline, whom Wainwright describes as “a real maestro—he was the big surprise for me.” Out of the Game has hints of doo-wop, R&B and even classical, but Wainwright credits the music of the ’70s as the record’s key influence. So which artist from that era would he most like to work with? “If Stevie Wonder had continued doing what he was doing then for the rest of his career, he would be the one,” he says. “But I’d probably have more luck hanging out with Stevie Nicks. She’s more up my alley.” OUT MAY 1. —SAM POLCER


LOGGING ON
Woodcut meditates on the inner beauty of trees

Usually when you say something is “wooden,” unless you mean it’s literally made of wood you’re calling it stiff, lifeless, uninteresting. But for his new book, Woodcut, Connecticut artist Bryan Nash Gill has taken hunks of raw wood and transformed them into something extraordinary. His prints can resemble leaves, shells, countries, galaxies; they can be sobering, inspiring or vertiginous. Even more striking, as writer Verlyn Klinkenborg puts it in the introduction, is the commentary they provide on time—both arboreal and human. “Things would be very different if we absorbed time the way trees do,” he muses, “with such structural integrity, such an uncanny ability to preserve the year that’s just escaped but also to fold it away out of sight.” OUT NOW


MATERNAL WISDOM

With Mother’s Day coming up on May 13, we asked Anna Quindlen, Pulitzer-winning sage of midlife and motherhood and author of the brand-new memoir Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake, for a few tips for moms on their big day:

“You might not eat until lunch. Breakfast in bed is going to have lots of weird bits, including eggshells, and if the kids don’t burn the bacon they’ll take that themselves. So what? If you have perfectly cooked eggs Benedict, you’re probably in a hotel room.”

“If you have more than one child and someone forgets Mother’s Day, do nothing. Siblings handle this, as in: ‘Dude, you forgot it was Mother’s Day? Dude. Wow.’ You can just smile beatifically.”

“When you’re presented with your gift, never ask, ‘What is it?’ It’s a picture of a dragon, or a dinosaur, or Mommy and Daddy dancing at their wedding. Whatever it is, the correct response is ‘It’s beautiful!’ Believe me, as the mother of adults I can tell you that you’re going to be keeping your earrings in that clay whatchamacallit for the rest of your life.”

“Be ready for the future. Grown children are not quite as reverential about Mother’s Day as small ones are, in part because they don’t have a teacher supervising an art project (see above). But supermarket flowers are still flowers, and a phone call is always welcome, even if the background noise indicates that it’s coming from a bar on Wings-and-Beer Night.”

“Also, it is not cool to tell grown children what you would like for Mother’s Day: grandchildren. They’re smart enough to know this. After all, you raised them.”

 

WILD PITCHES
Two very unlikely movie adaptations hit the big screen May 18

BATTLESHIP
INSPIRATION: 45-year-old board game
PLOT: International naval fleet at Pearl Harbor attempts to repel an armada of alien invaders
STARS: Taylor Kitsch (fresh off John Carter, in which he played a Civil War veteran fighting aliens on Mars), Liam Neeson, Brooklyn Decker
PREDECESSORS: Clue, Jumanji TWIST: Both sides of the story are shown, so we know where all the ships are
NEXT UP: Adaptations of Monopoly, Ouija, Risk and Candy Land

WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN YOU’RE EXPECTING
INSPIRATION: Pregnancy guide first published in 1984
PLOT: Five couples of varying temperaments prepare to deliver or adopt babies
STARS: Jennifer Lopez, Cameron Diaz, Matthew Morrison (“Glee”), Elizabeth Banks, Dennis Quaid, Chris Rock, Brooklyn Decker
PREDECESSORS: He’s Just Not That Into YouThink Like a Man 
TWIST: Chris Rock and Mr. Schuester appear in the same movie
NEXT UP: Nothing yet—but we suggest an adaptation of Basic Ab Workout for Dummies, starring Gerard Butler and, of course, Brooklyn Decker

 

INSIDE TRACK

Known today as an actor (Seabiscuit) and racing analyst, Gary Stevens in his jockey days notched 4,800-plus wins and a Hall of Fame berth. With the Kentucky Derby arriving May 5, we’re reminded that few in the horse racing world can walk the walk like this guy. But as for talking the talk—well, he was nice enough to give us a few insider phrases to drop.

Don’t get caught in a blind switch. “This is the kind of thing a trainer may warn a jockey about, meaning don’t go into an opening in the pack if you don’t see an exit. It’s basically a trap that older jockeys set for younger jockeys—and yes, I fell for it too, early on!”

He was walking the dog. “Say I was in a race out in front, going easy and well within the scope of the horse’s abilities, and someone asks me afterward, ‘How was the ride?’ I’d say, ‘Heck, I was just walking the dog.'”

That one’s a real morning glory. “This means a horse that’s been working out tremendously in the a.m. but wilts come afternoon race time. It’s the opposite of, say, Silver Charm, who didn’t impress in the morning at all” and yet won the Derby and the Preakness in 1997, with Stevens aboard.

 

QUOTED

If everyone in the world became twice as good at playing baseball … Albert Pujols would still be a baseball superstar, not you. He would just be twice as good as he is now.” —From 10 1/2 Things No Commencement Speaker Has Ever Said, a collection of unconventional graduation advice by Dartmouth College commencement speaker and economist Charles Wheelan. OUT MAY 7


THE DOCTOR IS OUT

Dr. Gregory House will make his grand exit with the May 21 series finale of Fox’s “House M.D.,” ending an eight-year run of cantankerously diagnosing bizarre afflictions. We asked Dr. John Sotos, a longtime medical consultant for “House,” about some of the show’s more extreme maladies.

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