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Monday, Dec 1, 2008
Will & Grace: The Complete Series Collection - Lions Gate [$249.98]

Eight years of Grace’s ruffled shirts, Will cooking up a storm in the kitchen, Karen’s pill-popping, and “Just Jack”. It’s hard to compare Will (Eric McCormack) and Grace’s (Debra Messing) roommate relationship to any other comedy duo on television; the gay lawyer and straight interior designer have a logic all their own. Mood-swinging wildly from intensely supportive of each other to irredeemably depressed and cranky, without the physical comedy and snappy one-liners this series wouldn’t have lasted for eight years. It was clear from the start, the unusual premise worked because these two actors have fantastic charisma together. Any fan of the long-running series will covet this cleverly packaged 33-disc set, covered in pictures of the fab four pushing the boundaries of the metaphorical box itself, stretching TV comedy in their own special way from 1998 to 2006.


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Monday, Dec 1, 2008
The Hudson Brothers Razzle Dazzle Show - Video Service Corp. [$29.98]

If, like yours truly, you came of age in the ‘60s and ‘70s, there’s a special place in your heart for the crazed combination of marketing and imagination that was Saturday Morning kid’s programming. Amid all the cartoons and chaos, CBS pulled a trio of “next big thing” wannabes out of club gigs and gave them 30 minutes of variety hour vaudeville. The results remain something akin to watching a Borscht Belt comedian drown in a sea of silly string. And just to make matters more insane, the Hudson’s would perform their own massively muzaked version of a rock and roll ‘classic’. Hip… or hopeless? You decide.


AMAZON


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Monday, Dec 1, 2008
Once Again to Zelda - Marlene Wagman-Geller - Perigee Trade [$16.95]

“With love to…”, “For whom I couldn’t have written this without…” those touching but oftentimes oblique dedications in novels that may pique our curiosity but go unexplored are a launching point for this dedication to the love of—and the loves (and other things) that inspire—iconic literature. Wagman-Geller delves into dedications in 50 books and comes up with personal and historical influences that may surprise the dedicated reader. Give to the true literature lover in your life, without whom you couldn’t have…


AMAZON


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Monday, Dec 1, 2008

A few weeks ago, Nicholas Carr wrote a post about the end of the blogosphere as an independent, open field in which new writers can bypass the need for vetting by corporate media and rise in popularity through sheer merit.


While there continue to be many blogs, including a lot of very good ones, it seems to me that one would be hard pressed to make the case that there’s still a “blogosphere.” That vast, free-wheeling, and surprisingly intimate forum where individual writers shared their observations, thoughts, and arguments outside the bounds of the traditional media is gone. Almost all of the popular blogs today are commercial ventures with teams of writers, aggressive ad-sales operations, bloated sites, and strategies of self-linking. Some are good, some are boring, but to argue that they’re part of a “blogosphere” that is distinguishable from the “mainstream media” seems more and more like an act of nostalgia, if not self-delusion.


He’s probably right about that, but we should be grateful the old blogosphere was around long enough for Tanta at Calculated Risk to find a wide audience. She was absolutely one of the most lucid and engaging writers on the housing bubble and the mortgage industry, without whom even fewer people would have much of an idea of what happened to our economy in recent years. Tanta, whose name was Doris Dungey, died over the weekend, and will be sorely missed.


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Monday, Dec 1, 2008
PopMatters' intrepid photographer arrives on the scene in time for day two of the M For Montréal festival and takes in the town as well as the first two of Friday's acts.

Due to scheduling conflicts, I arrived in Montréal late on a Thursday night, a full day after events editor Kevin Pearson had touched down. As such, I missed the first day of the festival, not to mention a few swanky dinners, courtesy of the festival’s organizers.  Luckily, there was still plenty left to be seen, heard and tasted in Montréal and I was determined to make the most of my weekend in the world’s second largest French speaking city.


Coincidentally enough, I was born in Montréal, though my family left Canada when I was just a few months old. Though I had made a few trips back as a child, this would mark the first chance I would have as an adult to explore the city in earnest. As such, my trip was filled with a peculiar sense of nostalgia; fleeting moments of recognition in a city that I knew almost nothing about.


Our home base, the fashionably minimalist Opus Hotel, was located at the intersection of two of Montréal’s great thoroughfares, the Boulevard Saint Laurent and rue Sherbrooke. Boulevard Saint Laurent is apparently referred to as “the Main” by locals, as the street serves as the dividing line between the Anglophone and Francophone parts of town. Leonard Cohen owns a nondescript grey stone house about a mile from the Opus, not far from the corner of Boulevard Saint Laurent and rue Marie Anne (the latter street, apparently, serving as the inspiration for the song that bears its name).


Even though I arrived after midnight on Thursday, Kevin managed to coax me into going out to a bar (okay, I admit, it didn’t take much coaxing) with him and a few folks he had met at the festival. We ended up at Korova, an upstairs hipster dive on the main drag that somehow felt both authentically divey and authentically Canadian. The DJ spun great tunes (‘50s and ‘60s pop 45s, mostly), the bartenders poured St. Ambroise brews from Montréal’s own McAuslan brewery and practically everyone danced themselves into a sweat as the moose heads mounted on the wall silently observed the proceedings.


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