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Monday, Nov 26, 2007

Recall the day you gazed upon the weirdo in your life and finally accepted that yes, he really is an alien, just like he’s been saying all these years? This book, a guide to an alien’s first visit to Earth, is your peace offering, for all the years you made fun of him. For example, little alien, if someone pulls a gurning on you, frightening as a “fish face” is, do not fear, it is not a threat. It’s just… human. Billed as an “... irreverent, sideways look at the many bizarre occurrences on our sometimes twisted planet…”, this book is filled with facts about human behavior and expression that will have the most stout believer in his familial roots wishing he that he, too, were from another planet. Ian Harrison’s collection of “arcane and interesting information” is, well, funny and… weird. Just like your little friend.


Monster Spotter’s Guide to North America by Scott Francis [$14.99]

I worked with a guy who believed the stories from X-Files were real. I mean really real—and not just the conspiracy stuff, but the monsters, too. Who doesn’t know someone who, despite being well past the age one should hang on to their “child-like imagination” secretly harbors—or not so secretly harbors—a belief in monsters? Who still doesn’t get that feeling, sometimes, that they’re being followed by something under-worldly? With this book in hand, light-weight hiking boots on feet (the better for traction and speed, when he must turn and run), your monster hunter can hop in his Hyundai and be there—right there… that is somewhere… in the forests of Wisconsin, binoculars in hand, ready to spot the legendary Hodag that chases down and gores lumberjacks, or bird watchers—whatever. This is a terrifyingly fun stocking-stuffer for the monsterly inclined, be they explorer inclined to see for themselves, or storyteller in need of fresh ideas.


Far Out: 101 Strange Tales from Science’s Outer Edge by Mark Pilkington [$11.95]

And for those who truly believed the stories from X-Files were real, especially the alien conspiracy ones, well, this little handful of a book will prove them right. Just one example: not long after the Wright Brother’s first flight, an Ohio teen created the first electrogravity field, causing a glass tube to spin (the prelude to a flying saucer’s hover)—in his garage. But did the US government know about it way back then? Our gentle reader might ask. Well, if it didn’t then, it does, now, and it knows a lot more about early inventions, bizarre dreams become reality, and otherworldly phenomena going on about us, right now—and who’s responsible for it. Whatever became of young Thomas Brown is not disclosed… but still, this beats any science textbook your beloved geek will ever read.


 


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Monday, Nov 26, 2007

For fans of David Lynch’s delightfully obtuse hour long drama, previously released DVD versions were missing two major elements—the original pilot and input from the director himself. This latest digital incarnation hopes to change all that. The noted filmmaker personally oversaw the new transfers of the episodes, hoping to recapture the specific color schemes he designed. Equally important, the opening installment of the series has been preserved, including both original and ‘theatrical’ endings (which wrapped things up for international audience unable to follow the series). The show itself remains as majestic as ever—that is, until Season Two.


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Monday, Nov 26, 2007

Do you have a high-end PC? Not like a high-end PC that you bought a year or two ago, but something from this year that you bought with all of the bells and whistles and the high-end graphics card and the extra eight gigs of ram and the Vista? Looking for a piece of software with which to show it off? EA has your game. Crysis, developed by the minds who brought us Far Cry, is bar none the most visually impressive game, well, ever. Crysis outdoes everything that any of the consoles have to offer in the graphics department, offering an utter feast for the eyes in terms of landscape visuals and human/alien models. The even better news about Crysis is that even with the obvious concentration on the visual side of things, the gameplay is fantastic as well. Crysis is a well-paced, beautifully executed first-person shooter that every PC gamer with a killer machine circa 2007 or later should absolutely get a hold of.


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Monday, Nov 26, 2007

San Francisco in the late ‘60s is one of the most highly mythologized places and times in rock history, and not without reason. The area spawned at least a half dozen top-tier bands, and figures like Jerry Garcia, Sly Stone, Janis Joplin, and Grace Slick became icons. Steve Miller wound up being one of the biggest pop acts of the ‘70s, and Carlos Santana, of all people, found a new life as a collaborator with younger pop figures in the late ‘90s, a role which he continues to play. The Dead soldiered on in various permutations after Garcia’s death 12 years ago, and they remain one of the biggest moneymaking groups in the industry. But it’s the music these folks recorded in the late ‘60s that serves as their legacy, and some of their best work can be found on Love Is the Song We Sing. For the first time, the musical and attitudinal highs and lows of the Bay Area scene are on full, accurate, and coherent display. Forty years was a long time to wait.


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Monday, Nov 26, 2007

Brooding, dark, hopelessly romantic, superlatively rock when it wants to be, and almost baroquely classical when it gets tired of that, this is an album to learn to love, track-by-track, play-by-play. All these elements—the warmth and humanity and musical complexity, the indelible images and koan-like puzzles, the guitar-based rock and classical embellishments—go a certain distance in explaining why Boxer is so good… but they don’t quite explain it. This album, like all great albums, somehow transcends all the factors that makes it work, absorbs them in a seamless whole and breaks your heart in the process. All hail Boxer, one of the finest indie rock albums of the year.


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