Remember Balki Bartokomous? That lovable simpleton from the mythical Mediterranean isle of Mypos who moves to Chicago ("America or Burst!") with a head full of big-city dreams and proceeds to drive his nebbishy cousin to distraction? Of course you do, donít . . . be . . . reedic-o-lous. Well, Balki is coming to the Boston! Bronson Pinchot, who embodied the meat-headed Myposian in TVís Perfect Strangers, stars in Marie Jonesís Tony-nominated Broadway and West End smash Stones in His Pockets when it makes its Boston debut with a special two-week run at the Shubert Theatre. In this saga of a Hollywood film crewís comedically calamitous invasion of County Kerry, Pinchot helps his co-star, Mayo man Tim Ruddy, fill no fewer than 15 roles ó everyone from Jake Quinn and Charlie Conlon, two locals who act as extras in the film, to a cadre of bumptious Tinseltown folks. Written from Jonesís own stranger-than-fiction experiences shooting films in Eire, Stones is directed by Ian McElhinney, whoís helmed previous productions abroad (itís been raved about in Dublin, Jerusalem, Toronto, and Scandinavia). Performances begin December 3 at the Shubert Theatre, 265 Tremont Street in the Theater District. Tickets are $35 to $65; call (800) 447-7400.
The Belle Époque was not just a time for the flowering of literature, theater, and architecture ó it was also the golden age of poster design. Throughout Western Europe, these mass-produced affiches were being churned out by the ream, each more striking than the last. Yes, most of them were designed in the service of commercial consumption, flogging everything from Montmartre dancehalls to glasses of absinthe. But they were also art. The International Poster Gallery celebrates these dynamic fusions of form and function beginning next weekend with its ninth annual holiday poster show, "Timeless Beauties, 1890-1939." Featured will be prime works from trailblazers of the medium, from the dissolute joie de vivre of Henri Toulouse-Lautrecís Troupe de Mlle Eglantine to the angular Art Deco stylization of Berthold Loefflerís Kunstschau Wien. Art Noveau or Cubism or Futurism, France or Austria or Italy, these stately slabs of color and shape are well worth a look (and, if you can swing it, a buy; just think how nice that Broder evocation of the wintry peaks of Chamonix would look next to the Christmas tree). See for yourself when the show opens November 23 at the International Poster Gallery, 205 Newbury Street. Itíll be up through January 31. Call (617) 375-0076 or visit www.internationalpostergallery.com.
In the grand tradition of Springsteen, Guns Ní Roses, and Tom Waits, Frank Black and the Catholics spat out two ó count íem ó two albums on the same day this past August: Black Letter Days, a mass of twisted Americana roots that perhaps to underscore the point includes two versions of Waitsís "The Black Rider"í and Devilís Workshop, a bashed-out platter of jangle pop that proves that though the former Black Francisís fixation with viscera, paradise-bound primates, and the limitless reaches of outer space may have abated, his warped pop sensibility and proclivity for wrenching blasts of strident noise from his gee-tar are as robust as ever. On November 27, when the soulful Black man brings his Catholic penitents to Avalon, heíll share the bill with David Lovering, the drummer from his old Boston band (the Leprechauns or something?); the Bennies and Reid Paley open. Thatís at 15 Lansdowne Street. Tickets are $15.25; call (617) 423-NEXT.
Former Outlet and former Dropkick Murphy Rick Bartonís new band the Shadow Blasters put out their debut, An American Rock Song, this summer, and it was predictably invigorating ó a bracing blast of exuberantly affirming punk íní roll, a dozen tales of men facing fears and redressing weaknesses, looking inward then looking out again with fresh eyes. Bartonís steak-tough chords are tenderized with emotive peals of pedal steel and a rough-as-nails voice that ainít afraid to show some vulnerability. Next month, you can see the Shadow Blasters (whoíre currently in the studio working on a new record), do it all live when they headline the Middle East, 472-480 Massachusetts Avenue in Central Square. Thatíll be December 20; call (617) 864-EAST.