By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
Australians seem to have a pretty comfortable relationship with their bodily functions, so it comes as no surprise when one of the human "cockatoos" swinging from trapezes in this fabulous entertainment defecates on her fellow birds, and the robot dog cozies up to the audience and waggles his little aluminum balls. The gymnasts and jugglers are as graceful as dancers, the onstage band really cooks, and the political satire has subtle bite. ZIMMER
Today, Thursday, Friday, and Tuesday at 7; Saturday and Sunday at 1 and 7; and other times through January 11, New Victory Theater, 209 West 42nd Street, 212.239.6200
In her first self-produced event in her basement space in DUMBO, this multi-talented performer, born in Japan to Korean parents, a fixture of the downtown scene for more than 20 years, explores "the relation between resistance and creativity" in collaboration with videographer Benton-C Bainbridge, composer Geoff Matters, and environmental designers Omar Khan and Laura Garófalo of Liminal Projects. The audience will surround her dance and a video pendulum. ZIMMER
At 8, through Sunday, and December 17 through 21, Élan in Nest, 88 Front Street, Brooklyn, 212.375.0189
Few nonfiction writers possess Solnit's ability to find offbeat material that's not just an excuse for "interesting" books. Her latest, River of Shadows (a VLS fave), prominently features Eadweard Muybridge, the first person to capture the image of a moving animal on film, and owner of a life story as unwieldy as the spelling of his thrice-revised name. But Solnit manages to corral it, and establishes the necessary context to give Rivera vital, contemporary resonance. Poet and creative-writing director Robert Polito moderates. REIDY
At 6:30, New School, 66 West 12th Street,212.229.5353
DAVE MATTHEWS+EMMYLOU HARRIS
Dave's new solo joint sounds like a subdued DMB album. Avant-drummer Carter Beauford is sorely missed; luckily, Phish's Trey Anastasio and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, among others, inflect Dave's introspection with peculiar push. Emmylou Harris should not have to open for anyone35 years on, her country-folk-etc. still mutates exquisitely. Last fall's deft Stumble Into Grace is only her latest triumph. CATUCCI
At 7:30, Madison Square Garden, 2 Penn Plaza, 212.307.7171
'THE LAST SUPPER'
Overeager actors are sometimes said to "make a real meal" of their roles. Actor-playwright Ed Schmidt improves on the idiomhe not only cooks a real meal while performing his play, about what went on in the kitchen while Jesus supped with the disciples, but he serves it to the audience. Book early; seating is necessarily limited. FEINGOLD
Now playing, 154 West 27th Street, apt. 4W, 718.499.7758
'THE MUSICAL OF MUSICALSTHE MUSICAL!'
We won't pretend to know the content of Joanne Bogart and Eric Rockwell's new musical, which deals with a single story musicalized in five different styles; we just like the straightforwardness of its title. The cast of Pamela Hunt's production for the York Theatre Company includes Craig Fols, Lovette George, and the authors. FEINGOLD
Through January 11, Theatre at St. Peter's, 619 Lexington Avenue, 212.866.4444
'A PICTURE RARELY SEEN: JOSEPH CORNELL CENTENARY'
Cornell was not just a great artist but a great film artist. This four-day celebration opens with a program of his found "goofy newsreels" and ends with a John Zorn homage. In between: movies from Cornell's collection as well as movies made for him (by Rudy Burckhardt, among others) and, of course, by him. HOBERMAN
Through Sunday, Anthology Film Archives, 32 Second Avenue, 212.505.5181
HOUSTON PERSON QUARTET
The big-boned tenor, famed for his many years partnering with the late Etta Jones, leads a trim and fairly irresistible quartet; he is an imposing player in the blues and ballads style once known as soul sax. But he's deeper than that. His solos have breadth and weight. He caresses melodies and stamps them with an ardor that suggests the lifeline of Webster and Ammons. Pianist Stan Hope is just as direct. GIDDINS
Thursday through Sunday at 7:30 and 9:30, Friday and Saturday also at 11:30, Sunday at 7:30 and 9:30, Jazz Standard, 116 East 27th Street, 212.576.2232
'AUNT DAN AND LEMON'
Wallace Shawn's disturbing 1985 play, about an impressionable girl and her life-loving aunt's sinister influence on her, gets its first major revival from director Scott Elliott's New Group. The cast, headed by Kristen Johnston in the role created by Linda Hunt, features Lili Taylor as her niece and Melissa Errico among the figures in Aunt Dan's dubious anecdotes. Don't bring the kids. FEINGOLD
Opens today, the Clurman, Theatre Row, 410 West 42nd Street, 212.239.6200
'THE FOG OF WAR'
Errol Morris's new documentary portrait of Robert McNamara is almost ridiculously relevant and not just because it's impossible to see McNamara's steely smile and jaunty certitude without thinking of Donald Rumsfeld. No matter what your opinion is of the former secretary of defense and architect of our Vietnam War, The Fog of War is a chastening experience. In the deepest sense, it's about the inadequacy of human intelligence. HOBERMAN
Opens today, Angelika Film Center, 18 West Houston Street, 212.995.2000
The national treasure Blind Boys offer up the most soulful yuletide tunes of the seasonthe first Christmas harmonies recorded in their 60 years together. They've brought along some gifted, admiring co-carolers who've known them from childhood (Mavis Staples, Aaron Neville) or wish they had (Spearhead's Michael Franti, Chrissie Hynde, Charlie Musselwhite, Duke Robillard). The record's instrumentalists were aces like Richard Thompson and Robert Randolph; expect some surprises. Some proceeds go to the Diabetes Association. MAZOR
At 8, Beacon Theater, 2124 Broadway, 212.496.7070
The second-most-successful ex-*NSyncer's new single "Some Girls" goes, "Some girls take my money/Some girls take my clothes/Some girls get the shirt off my back/And leave me with a lethal dose." Oops, got him mixed up with the Rolling Stones for a second! Really, he says some girls dance with women. Then Ol' Dirty Bastard shows up. Good song. JC also had Justin-worthies on the latest Basement Jaxx CD and Drum Line soundtrack, if you're keeping score. EDDY
At 8, Irving Plaza, 17 Irving Place, 212.777.6800
THE MIGHTY SPARROW+CALYPSO ROSE+DAVID RUDDER+SHADOW
Four calypso-soca vets kick off our Carnival season in Jersey. The Sparrow's taken several Soca Monarch trophies at the Trinidad and Tobago Carnival with a canon spanning carnal wit and Blackman anthems rivaling any Rasta's, while Rudder is a past master of musical social consciousness. But it's Rose's ribald hilarity and Shadow's utterly unsentimental emotionalism that will persuade those not yet convinced of win' & jump up's appeal.
At 8, New Jersey Performing Arts Center, Prudential Hall, 1 Center Street, Newark, New Jersey, 973.353.8051
'DOÑA ROSITA THE SPINSTER'
Federico García Lorca divided this 1935 poetic study of a frustrated passion into "gardens" rather than scenes, saturating its text with floral imagery. The last of his plays to be produced in his lifetime, it's being revived by the Jean Cocteau Rep in a new adaptation by Gwynne Edwards; Ernest Jones directs. FEINGOLD
Previews begin today, Bouwerie Lane Theater, 330 Bowery, 212.677.0060
ESG+TV ON THE RADIO+TRACY & THE PLASTICS
ESG's early '80s minimalist art-funk was a pipeline connecting post-punk, house, and hip-hop, but unlike most legends, the Scroggins sisters continue to groove as hard as ever, turning any venue into the Hacienda or Paradise Garage. Young bands should be honored to open for ESGtonight, dramatic, slow-burning locals TVOTR and electro-pop art project Tracy & the Plastics are the lucky ones. With Mommy and Daddy. PHILLIPS
At 8, the Hook, 18 Commerce Street, Brooklyn, 718.797.3007
For a weirdly compelling portrait series titled "Cum Shots," Sahihi asked his male and female sitters to bring along a male partner to ejaculate on their face just before the photo was taken. Because the subjects are seated fully clothed before a neutral studio backdrop, the results buzz with the tension between formality and abandon. Confronting the camera with semen splattered across their cheeks, each of these people has an odd post-coital glowa flush of ebbing excitement that leaves them emotionally, totally naked. ALETTI
Through December 31, Axel Raben Gallery, 526 West 26th Street, 212.647.9064
KIKI & HERB
"Ladiesngennamen," as Kiki is fond of drunkenly pointing out, "people die." Magnificent jokes, however, don'tit wouldn't be the season without checking in with family, and if the world's greatest indie-rock drag-queen-as-over-the-hill-chanteuse cabaret act isn't family to downtown New York, ladiesngennamen, I don't know what is. Highlight of one previous yule show: "Frosty the Snowman" recast as Patti Smith's "Horses." WOLK
At 9, Bowery Ballroom, 6 Delancey Street, 212.533.2111
'HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JOSEPH CORNELL'
MOMA celebrates the Cornell centenary with the premiere of Flushing Meadows, a recently discovered, newly preserved Cornell film from 1965; it's showing with two ancient trick films from a movie evening organized by Cornell in 1949 and with one of his favorite features, the Jennifer Jones vehicle Portrait of Jennie. HOBERMAN
At 8, MOMA at the Gramercy, 127 East 23rd Street, 212.777.4900
With all the pomp and ceremony of professional attendants, white slippers, and a grand staircase to what appearsuntil someone steps through itto be an intensely blue rectangle, the genius of the ever unfinished Rodan Crater and one-trick creator of glowing supernal voids presents Ganzfeld Piece. It's a room (watch out, the floor's slippery) saturated with blue light. The second piece is a pitch-black space in which dim, changing colored light slowly reveals itself. LEVIN
Through January 10, PaceWildenstein, 534 West 25th Street, 212.421.3292