Slowhand, 35th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition, Eric Clapton
In 1977, Eric Clapton had recently kicked heroin, swiped Patti Boyd from her Beatle and was consuming copious amounts of alcohol and cocaine when he released Slowhand. As Rolling Stone wrote at the time, “His pain was always so apparent that every move he made seemed frozen for eternity.” This 3 CD, 1 DVD box set commemorates the seminal album that gave the world "Wonderful Tonight," "Lay Down Sally" and "Cocaine." It may not have been the prettiest chapter in his life, but the music proved to be Clapton’s salvation — and it's done the same for his legions of worshippers ever since.
When Amour director Michael Haneke accepted the Palm d'Or at Cannes last summer, Emmanuelle Riva, 85, and a visibly frail Jean-Louis Trintignant, 82, joined him on stage. It was a particularly poignant moment. The two actors play Georges and Anne, an elderly couple forced to face their own mortality. The acclaimed film soberly but tenderly explores the source of every aging couple's deepest disquiet: Who will out-live the other?
The Voice, live finale, Dec 17-18, NBC
Sure, it's the thrilling live climax to a season that's featured the show's greatest talent to date. But with Christina and Cee-Lo both on their way out the door — Shakira and Usher take over their spinny chairs come 2013 — true Voice aficionados will be tuning in to see the last hurrah of the original quartet of coaches. The departing divas definitely won't let a little thing like "Who will win?" eclipse their own big moment.
Magnificence, Lydia Millet
This concluding novel of a trilogy finds cheating widow Susan Lindley coping with guilt over her husband’s murder when she inherits a bizarre mansion stuffed with taxidermy animals in Pasadena, Calif. Though death and loss is an underlying theme, readers will appreciate Lydia Millet’s distinctively wry humor: “In any case the dead were almost as beautiful as the living, sometimes more so. They had far fewer needs.”
WORTH THE TRIP
A Christmas Carol, American Conservatory Theater, San Francisco
Christmas in the Bay Area isn’t complete until this intimate theater on Geary Street in Union Square summons the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future. Now in its 36th year at American Conservatory Theater, the Dickens classic is more popular than ever, drawing sold-out crowds. “We’re hearing from parents and grandparents that the Carol experience is more important to their families now than ever," says Carey Perloff, the ACT artistic director. "The story has particular resonance at this particular moment when issues of greed and generosity must be part of the discourse about our humanity and civility.”
Pamela Miller is a freelance writer who lives in Los Angeles.