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Thursday, Dec 16, 2010
Miles Davis - Bitches Brew: 40th Anniversary Legacy Edition - Sony Legacy [$22.98]

This brew tastes as good as it ever did. And regarding the stylistic and cultural changes that have ensued since late ’69, what might have once sounded scary should seem almost accessible. To listeners who have absorbed progressive rock, world music, trip-hop and the ambient dreamscapes that drugs and technology have helped create, this experience might impart the shock of recognition: this is the primordial stew that all of these advancements oozed out of. (For the full and unfettered experience, you need to acquire the box set that includes the complete Bitches Brew sessions, which was released several years back.)


Miles was clever enough to understand the new possibilities being made possible by James Brown, as well as Sly Stone and especially Jimi Hendrix. Miles, always trusting his ever-keen instincts, incorporated some of this freedom into his approach; he just happened to have the biggest and boldest freak flag, and as such he was able—and obliged—to fly it higher than anyone else. In the process he dragged jazz music, kicking and screeching, into the ‘70s—and beyond.


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Thursday, Dec 16, 2010
Eyewitness to History: From Ancient Times to the Modern Era [$35.00]

National Geographic’s reputation for gorgeous photography and compelling historical documentation continues with this tome showcasing human history. Eyewitness to History illustrates the past through the eyes of the people who lived it, be they figures of importance or mere cogs in the machine. Each chapter contains a milestone document such as Hammurabi’s Code and Luther’s 95 Theses. Even the writings of everyday citizens reveal tremendous detail about the way of life, customs and practices of people at any given time.


From prehistory to today, the book’s timeline takes us for an epic journey through an ever evolving landscape. It makes one wonder how our time and place will be depicted to future generations.


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Thursday, Dec 16, 2010
Deadly Premonition (Ignition, Xbox 360) [$19.99]

Deadly Premonition boasts dated graphics and some truly terrible combat, nevertheless, it is one of the best games of the year.  A survival horror title set in the quirkiest and most robust open worlds in recent memory, the game’s atmosphere and tone is an absolute delight. 


Reveling in the bizarre, the macabre, and the whimsical, Deadly Premonition is not for everyone, but gamers who also find themselves jonesing to explore a world reminiscent of Twin Peaks or something out of the Tim Burton catalog are likely going to “get” the appeal of this sleeper hit.  Oh, and in a recessionary Christmas season, the budget pricing sure doesn’t hurt.


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Thursday, Dec 16, 2010
Life on Mars: The Complete UK Collection - Acorn Media [$79.99]

The UK series Life on Mars, recently remade into an American version, offers an original premise by taking elements from different genres and melding them into one. Life on Mars is as much a cop show as it is an existential drama as it is a comedic period piece. By blending these varied components and playing with the conventions of all three, the series achieves a unique balance that elevates it above just one kind of story. Life on Mars successfully turns many of the standard storytelling techniques viewers are accustomed to ‘on its ear’, so to speak, and in doing so, it achieves an originality that makes for a very strong series. The cast is engaging, the writing is smart, and in the end, there is a real satisfaction to its conclusion.


Life on Mars: The Complete Collection contains quite a bit of bonus material including, audio commentaries for all the episodes in series one; several behind-the-scenes featurettes on individual episodes, the music of Life on Mars, production design, and a set tour; two documentaries on the show; and an outtakes reel. The extras add to a better understanding of the show and the thinking behind its eventual resolution.


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Thursday, Dec 16, 2010
The ELLEments of Personal Style: 25 Modern Fashion Icons on How to Dress, Shop, and Live [$30.00]

This season, no self proclaiming fashionista would be caught without The ELLEments of Personal Style on their bookshelf. To celebrate its 25th anniversary, Elle magazine has released this book celebrating everything that makes a woman an individual. In glossy photos it pays homage to 25 modern fashion icons, going inside their closets and minds to find out what it is that makes style so uniquely personal.


The Elle team profils fashion powerhouses like Diane von Fusternburg to singers like Fergie and Alicia Keys. They talk to stars of the small screen like Christina Hendricks and Oliva Wilde as well as actresses that transcend time like Angelica Houston. Newcomers in the fashion industry get attention, too, such as Ashley Greene and Lea Michele as well as women who serve as inspiration and a reminder that style is innate, women like Dita von Teese, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Margherita Missoni. Each woman is an icon, yet they could not be more different, thus proving that who you are has everything to do with what you wear. True style cannot be bought, but a delicious reminder to be and dress how you feel can be and should be.


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