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Friday, Dec 7, 2007

Talk about your long dormant Holy Grails. Ever since DVD became the format of choice, devotees of director Ridley Scott’s speculative noir have been waiting for a definitive digital version. This, apparently, is it: a multidisc offering encased in a slick silver briefcase. It contains a staggering FOUR different cuts of the film (a new director’s, the original theatrical, an international configuration, and Scott’s 1992 revamp) as well as a workprint, dozens of documentaries, and lots of insightful featurettes. The old cliché would have some arguing that such an aesthetic overview would be worth the wait—and they’d be right.


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Friday, Dec 7, 2007

Each year, hundreds of Christmas albums are released. Very few rise to the top of that pile, and even fewer transcend it. But that’s exactly what The 25th Day of December does. It’s a classic album that just happens to be about Christmas. Years before their Stax heyday and a full decade before signature hit “I’ll Take You There”, Roebuck “Pops” Staples, son Pervis, and daughters Mavis and Yvonne were signed to jazz label Riverside. Only their fifth album overall, The 25th Day of December nonetheless feels wise and assured. The dozen tracks, many traditional spirituals, are rendered seriously and sincerely. Even standards like “Go Tell It on the Mountain” and “Silent Night” are stripped down and laid bare. The unadorned backing, consisting of Roebuck’s bluesy guitar along with organ and drums, puts the focus where it should be, on the soulful harmonies and reverent message. The 25th Day of December is not only a great way to put the Christmas season and its music back into perspective, it’s also one of the year’s most essential reissues in any genre.


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Friday, Dec 7, 2007

Fans of satirical news will find nothing to be disappointed with in this hilarious collection of stories and images from The Onion news source. Originally published in 1999, the editors define political issues as only The Onion can. Presenting the best fake news stories from the twentieth century, read headlines like “Death-by-Corset Rates Stabilize at One-in-Six” and “Congress Reduces Work Week to 135 Hours”. Always relevant, always thought-provoking, this book makes a great gift to open again and again.


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Friday, Dec 7, 2007

This came out of nowhere, eventually taking a place as one of the most fun Wii experiences of the year.  It’s not going to win any awards, given the lack of memorable characters and the fact that, well, fishing might not be everyone’s idea of an exciting gaming experience.  Still, not even The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, to date the most fun a Wii owner could have with a fishing pole, managed to replicate the thrill of a catch quite like Fishing Master does.  The general idea is this: You travel from place to place all over Japan, entering fishing tournaments, honing your skills, and trying to catch the rarest fish out there.  The thing is, it’s not just exciting when you catch one of these rare treasures, though the payoff of seeing the beautiful thing for the first time is addictive.  Even so, it’s almost as exciting just to catch a tin can, which happens quite frequently because, well, they don’t move around quite so much as the fish.  Those trapped inside for the winter might appreciate the zen that a good fishing experience brings as well, so go ahead, let your quest for the rarest fish—and, if you’re into it, the largest boot—begin.


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Friday, Dec 7, 2007

There are actually two Stax Records stories. The first is of the mid-‘60s, when they defined soul music before tragedy and a sudden collapse. The second is of their rise up from those ashes to become a player in the post-Black Power funk era, and of a second, crippling financial controversy. This Samuel L. Jackson-narrated doc, although a little sketchy on some of the details, delivers both stories with vibrant interviews, including label co-founder Jim Stewart and Otis Redding’s wife Zelda. But feel free to skip the history lesson and enjoy the steady stream of rare concert and TV footage starring Redding, Sam and Dave, Isaac Hayes, the Staple Singers, and many soulful more.



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