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The Month Ahead

What to see, read and listen to in July

ART FORMS
Whimsical dance company Pilobolus bends over backward for its audience

Incorporating all manner of acrobatics, props and shadow play, the high-energy performance company Pilobolus has garnered a broad following almost unheard of in the world of modern dance. In addition to performing at New York City’s Joyce Theater every summer for 25-plus years and appearing everywhere from Conan’s show to the Oscars, the troupe recently collaborated with indie rock band OK Go on the Grammy-nominated music video for “All Is Not Lost.” This month, Pilobolus is back at the Joyce with a lineup that includes a collaborative piece with avant-garde Belgian choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and one with juggler and “physicist” Michael Moschen in which the dancers appear to have juggling balls for heads. “It’s the kind of show that everybody wants to bring their friends to,” says Joyce Theater executive director Linda Shelton. “And to me, it’s not summer unless Pilobolus is here.” JULY 16

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KNIFE SKILLS
Anthony Bourdain can now add “comic book writer” to his ever-expanding collection of hats. Get Jiro!, a send-up of food culture in the guise of a graphic novel, features a ronin sushi chef in a dystopian world where “all desire is based on access to chefs.” We recently gained access to the “No Reservations” host to nerd out on comics for a while.

Hemispheres: Have you always been a comic book fan?
Anthony Bourdain: Yeah, I was a collector of Marvels from very early on, when I was a kid. As I got more serious, I expanded my collection to ’50s ECs, even some “golden age” stuff. Then I got into the San Francisco undergrounds.

Hemi: How did you settle on Vertigo, DC’s edgy, sophisticated imprint, for your book?
AB: What we were not looking to do was just crank out a graphic novel. Both Joel [Rose, the book’s co-writer] and I are serious about this stuff, and we were looking for a pretty lavish production. We’d hoped that Vertigo would do the right thing, and boy, did they ever.

Hemi: Did you have a clear idea of how you wanted Get Jiro! to look?
AB: I wanted it to be very detailed and the food preparation to be realistic … and I wanted it to be really, really violent.

Hemi: One of the main villains, a militant locavore who commands a horde of devoted hippies, comes across as a caricature of chef Alice Waters. Intentional?
AB: I was just thinking of an earth mother, a close-to-the-soil type. I doubt very much that Alice Waters feeds anybody to pigs.

Hemi: Still, between her and her rival master chef/crime lord, it seems a bit like you’re skewering the restaurant industry and its obsessions with local ingredients and profit.
AB: It’s an adventure story. It’s quirky, satirical entertainment … and I’m an equally lampoonable part of the world that we’re depicting. I benefit from it, I’m part of it, I’m implicated in it.

Hemi: But you’ve voiced your criticisms of it more than most.
AB: Perhaps. But I think it’s not a serious indictment.

Hemi: Speaking of indictments, the protagonist has some pretty strong feelings about date-nut bread. Do you as well?
AB: Nah, I’m OK with date-nut bread. Actually, I like date-nut bread. My mom used to make it. JULY 03. —SAM POLCER

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SPIN CYCLE
Three new music releases worth checking out

The Kinks at the BBC: Yes, you could settle for the two-CD collection of the seminal British pop band’s live performances at the BBC, but if you’re a fan you’ll be powerless in the face of the collector’s edition. You get five CDs charting The Kinks’ rise from relative obscurity to superstardom, a comprehensive book and a DVD of unreleased concert performances and live dates from shows like “Top of the Pops.” It is, you might say, a veritable preservation society unto itself. OUT NOW

Handwritten, The Gaslight Anthem: Many blue-collar bands with heartfelt lyrics and a certain swagger have been dubbed heirs to Springsteen, but who’s actually had The Boss jump onstage with them at a gig and play one of their songs? The Gaslight Anthem, that’s who, a Jersey-based pop-punk outfit with their hearts on their rolled-up sleeves. JULY 24

Home Again, Michael Kiwanuka: This 24-year-old soul singer, dubbed by some as a cross between Bill Withers and Otis Redding, has been generating enormous buzz in the U.K. He releases his full-length debut this month, backed by an extensive stateside tour. JULY 31

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BREAKING AWAY
July marks the beginning of the end for an AMC hit and its Emmy-magnet star

FANS OF AMC’S TENSE, DARK and often corrosively funny drama “Breaking Bad” are used to curveballs. So it likely came as no surprise that the series’ fifth and supposedly final season would instead be split into two mini seasons, with eight episodes airing starting this month, followed by eight more next year.

The good news: Bryan Cranston, who stars as high-school-teacher-turned-meth-mastermind Walter White, will definitely be gracing our TV screens into 2013. The bad news: The end is nonetheless in sight. And in truth, it always has been.

“My character has terminal lung cancer — that’s something we told the audience right up front, and it’s still true,” Cranston says. “We’re not going to all of a sudden discover it’s all been a dream, or have a doctor telling Walt, ‘I’m sorry, sir, I had the wrong chart. You’re fine!'”

The chance to play a man with nowhere to go but down — and fast — is what first drew in Cranston, whose biggest previous role was that of hapless-but-lovable-dad Hal on “Malcolm in the Middle.” When “Breaking Bad” creator Vince Gilligan told him how the show would take Walter “from Mr. Chips to Scarface,” the actor says, “my jaw dropped.” The show debuted to raves from critics and began racking up Emmy nods (Cranston has won three times for his performance), and even in its fourth season it’s continued to build its audience.

As for what the last 16 episodes might hold, Cranston may sound as if he’s playing it close to the vest (“the story comes out of the gate and takes a left turn … there’s a strong intellectual component, not as violent but just as intense …”), but even he isn’t privy yet to how it will all play out. And that suits him fine.

“Walter White is on this roller coaster, twisting and turning, and he doesn’t know what’s going to happen in the next hour, let alone the next week,” Cranston says. “So I just have to strap myself in and hold on just like the audience does.” JULY 15

Addictive Stuff
Unlike his “Breaking Bad” alter ego, Bryan Cranston will give his signature recipe to anyone who asks nicely. Bonus: You don’t need a superlab to make it.

Peanut Butter Power Balls
3 parts all-natural creamy peanut butter
4 parts nonfat dry milk
1 part pure honey (or agave nectar)

1. Sprinkle dry milk into peanut butter and mix thoroughly. Add honey.
2. Shape into bite-size balls on dinner plate; place in freezer for at least 15 minutes.
3. Pop them into your mouth. Feel the power of healthy energy. You’re welcome.

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THE HOTTEST MONTH

Compared with last year’s underwhelming July, this month’s movie slate is an embarrassment of riches. How ’bout Spidey (The Amazing Spider-Man, with a new Peter Parker, The Social Network‘s Andrew Garfield, July 3) and the Caped Crusader (The Dark Knight Rises, July 20)? Ker-plow! Even Oliver Stone is getting in on the act with Savages (July 6), a thriller pitting a pair of good-looking small-time crooks (including Taylor Kitsch) against a good-looking drug-cartel queen (Salma Hayek) who has kidnapped their good-looking girlfriend (Blake Lively).

Then there’s Ted (July 13), the first feature from “Family Guy” honcho Seth MacFarlane, in which a couple (Mark Wahlberg and Mila Kunis) shares living quarters with a teddy bear come to life. Similarly, Ruby Sparks (July 25) stars Zoe Kazan (the ingénue who also wrote the film’s screenplay) as a girl written into existence by an endearingly awkward Paul Dano in the latest from the directing duo behind Little Miss Sunshine. Lastly, for true cinephiles, the 17th annual San Francisco Silent Film Festival (July 12-15) has the newly restored Wings, the first film to win an Academy Award, along with a live Foley accompaniment by sound designer Ben Burtt (Star Wars, E.T.).

If none of that does it for you, well, Total Recall comes out Aug. 3…

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SPARKS FLY
America’s long-running love affair with fireworks comes to a crescendo on Independence Day. Here then, a few stats on some of the top shows.

NEW YORK CITY
Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks
Length: 25 minutes
Size: More than 45,000 individual fireworks (that’s 1,800 shells per minute, if you’re counting)

HOUSTON
Freedom Over Texas With Fireworks
Length: 17 minutes
Size: More than 4,000 individual fireworks (including a set of custom-made seashells)

PHILADELPHIA
Wawa Welcome America
Length: 15 minutes
Size: More than 7,000 individual fireworks

SAN FRANCISCO
Fourth of July Celebration at Pier 39
Length: 25 minutes
Size: An estimated 4,500 individual fireworks

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SEASON’S READINGS
From surefire bestsellers to cool, under-the-radar finds, here are 12 new fiction releases that deserve a spot in your beach tote this summer

The Fallen Angel, Daniel Silva. Globetrotting action and a hero who’s an art restorer, spy and assassin by turns. JULY 17

Friends Forever, Danielle Steel. Heart-tugging fare about five childhood pals by the queen of beach reads. JULY 24
The Next Best Thing, Jennifer Weiner. A feisty heroine’s adventures in Hollywood (with plenty of inside-showbiz scoop). JULY 3
Creole Belle, James Lee Burke. Moody, atmospheric New Orleans mystery from a genre heavyweight. JULY 17
The Impeachment of Abraham Lincoln, Stephen L. Carter. History rewritten as gripping political suspense. JULY 10
Gold, Chris Cleve. The latest from Little Bee author Cleve, with a red-hot backdrop: the London Olympic Games. JULY 3
Jack 1939, Francine Mathews. Fast-paced espionage yarn with a crackerjack twist: JFK as a dashing young spy. JULY 5
The Nightmare, Lars Kepler. Twisty, psychological Nordic noir for fans of The You-Know-Who With The You-Know-What. JULY 3
Alif the Unseen, G. Willow Wilson. Middle Eastern-set techno thriller steeped in Arabian Nights mystique. JULY 3
Juliet in August, Dianne Warren. Literary tale of a Canadian prairie town where emotional drama runs deep. JULY 5
Sorry Please Thank You, Charles Yu. Thirteen short stories that skip nimbly between pop culture and science. JULY 24
Albert of Adelaide, Howard L. Anderson. Classic Western plot — but set in the outback and starring a plucky platypus. JULY 10

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ALSO OUT THIS MONTH

MOVIES The Watch, starring Ben Stiller, Jonah Hill and Vince Vaughn as suburban dads who defend Earth against an alien invasion // BOOKS True Believers, Kurt Andersen’s novel about an attorney who withdraws her name from Supreme Court consideration because of events in her past // TV Showtime’s “Weeds,” debuting its eighth (and reportedly final) season // MUSIC Gossamer, the much-anticipated follow-up to Passion Pit’s infectious 2009 electro-pop breakthrough, Manners // Skelethon, the first full-length album from indie rapper Aesop Rock since 2007 // The latest from the Zac Brown Band, Uncaged, which Brown describes as a “country-Southern-rock-bluegrass-reggae-jam” record

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