1 In the same spurting vein as "The Nightmare Before Christmas," Tim Burton's delightful "Frankenweenie" stitches together macabre comedy and ticklish horror. With stop-motion 3-D animation that feels both handcrafted and elegant, it tells the tale of one of Burton's patented lonely-boy heroes. The story brims with self-parody, social satire, horror, nostalgia, wit and emotional insight, and Burton keeps all the plates spinning.
2 Maybe the best coming-out anthem by a female country act since the Dixie Chicks' "Wide Open Spaces" -- and coincidentally sung by a young banjo-picking Texan -- Kacey Musgraves' "Merry Go 'Round" deserves all the radio play that country stations can afford to give a non-Barbie Doll starlet-in-waiting. The 24-year-old "Nashville Star" contestant riffs on small-town angst and dysfunctional families in the bittersweet song, from her upcoming debut for Mercury Records. "Mama's hooked on Mary Kay," she sings, "and brother's hooked on Mary Jane / and Daddy's hooked on Mary, two doors down." We're hooked, too.
3 "Universal Classic Monsters: The Essential Collection," an eight-disc Blu-ray set, marks the high-def debuts of eight iconic 1930s-'50s creature features including "Frankenstein," "The Mummy," "The Wolf Man," "The Invisible Man" and "The Phantom of the Opera." Among the daunting 12 hours of extras are an entirely different Spanish version of 1931's "Dracula" and "The Creature From the Black Lagoon" in 3-D. The only trick to this early Halloween treat is deciding what to watch first.
4 Canada's best import these days (sorry, Biebs) is poutine -- french fries covered with gravy and cheese curds. When our server at Psycho Suzi's mentioned a new poutine-like dish on the menu, we jumped on it. Astro Tots, as they're called at the Nordeast bar, turned out to be only sort of poutine-y. Basically: a bed of tots slathered in melted cheese and sausage gravy. The consistency is more along the lines of hot dish. But this knockout plate of premium bar food (especially after a couple beers) had the same effect as poutine -- sleepy time. www.psychosuzis.com
5 From rattling swords and rhyming couplets to stately wigs and sly servants, Theatre Pro Rata's "Lovers and Executioners" transports its audience to a period long past. Questions of misogyny and the nature of love and forgiveness may lend this production some timeless themes, but the focus remains firmly on the fun of the farce. The standout performance comes from Amber Bjork as the coy and vacuous fiancée, Constance, who is anything but constant in her affections. www.theatreprorata.org.