1 Photographer, filmmaker, novelist, poet and composer, Gordon Parks (1912-2006) broke ground in all those fields. Weinstein Gallery in Minneapolis celebrates the former St. Paulite's camera work in "Gordon Parks at 100," a moving exhibit of about 40 black-and-white pictures. Though it merely samples his career, the show conveys the reach of his lens and the depth of his humanity. His most famous pictures are here, including a sweat-drenched Muhammad Ali and "American Gothic," his iconic 1942 portrait of Ella Watson, a Washington, D.C., scrubwoman posed with mop and broom before an American flag. www.weinstein-gallery.com
2 Shameless camp, hokey shtick and peppy songs. It's "Xanadu," the musical spoof based on the 1980 Olivia Newton-John movie. It's the story of a Greek goddess who comes to life in Venice Beach, Calif., to inspire a struggling artist who dreams of opening a roller disco. Chanhassen Dinner Theatre has more fun with it than the movie did. Star Jodi Carmeli either spent too much time at home with her ONJ records or she has an impeccable ear for that breathy phrasing with its unfinished syllables and charm. www.chanhassen theatres.com
3 No need to ask Brother Ali too many hard questions when his new album, "Mourning in America and Dreaming in Color," arrives Aug. 21. He pretty well covers all the vivid details of his life in "Stop the Press," the first track available from the album. Among the topics addressed: the departure of his former DJ, BK-One; the relatively tepid response to his last disc, "Us"; the suicide of his father; the accidental overdose death of his close friend Mikey "Eyedea" Larsen, and his own struggles to make his career, family life and especially marriage work. Geez, what's left for the rest of the record?
4 For years, cartoonist friends Zander Cannon and Kevin Cannon (no relation) have partnered on a variety of projects. This month, they debuted their first digital comic book magazine, "Double Barrel," which proves that two Cannons are better than one. Each $1.99 issue will serialize each artist's next graphic novels. For Zander, that's "Heck," which chronicles a high school football star's journey into the underworld. For Kevin, it's "Crater XV."
5 What happens when someone you love dies? If you're a character in Joshua Henkin's novel, "The World Without You," you go a little nuts. His book follows members of the Frankel family in 2005 as they mark the first anniversary of the death of their only son, killed in Iraq. His parents, wrenched with grief, are on the verge of separating. His sisters are each going bonkers in their own ways (one becomes obsessed with getting pregnant). Henkin's gentle, affectionate novel is tinged with sadness. However, it's also clear that beneath it all, what's keeping the family going is love.