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Wednesday, Dec 5, 2007

These Johnny Cash Christmas Specials offer a country music time capsule from the 1970s. Belting out songs of the season with his usual suspects, Carl Perkins, the Carter Family, and the Statler Brothers, Cash the genial host is in fine voice. The specials highlight popular singers from the time (Tony Orlando, Barbara Mandrell) but also lively folk traditions and country chestnuts (Stephen Foster songs, Gene Autry’s Christmas hits like “Frosty the Snow Man”). Cash gives a tour of his Tennessee farm and welcomes viewers into his home for a “guitar pullin’” with his family and friends, replete with an inspirational story from Billy Graham. The stand out is the 1977 special from the Grand Ole Opry House, with his fiery duets with June Carter Cash and a truly historic tribute to Elvis, who had recently passed away, in which Cash’s fellow Sun Studio stars Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Roy Orbison join him, appropriately, for a gospel number, “This Train is Bound for Glory”. Available on DVD for the first time since they aired, these two hour-long specials area must-have for Cash loyalists but should also interest music fans more generally.


 


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Wednesday, Dec 5, 2007
by Raquel Laneri

To the Western eye, no contemporary city matches the exuberance and strangeness of Tokyo’s street culture: Lolitas in ruffled pinafores, club kids with painted faces and platform boots, art students with asymmetrical haircuts and black tulle skirts and leather jackets.  The Tokyo Look Book, by British anthropologist Philomena Keet, is an indispensable guide for Westerners interested in Tokyo’s vibrant street fashions. Photographer Yuri Manabe’s photographs capture the city’s most stylish—and outrageous—denizens, while Keet guides us through Tokyo’s various subcultures and introduces us to some of the city’s most influential designers, tastemakers, and boutiques.  Stylish and spectacular, indeed.


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Wednesday, Dec 5, 2007

For such a well-respected Adventure/RPG game, the onset of a new entry in the excellent Ace Attorney series brings with it surprisingly little fanfare. This latest take on the characters brings with it a darker storyline and an end to Phoenix’s domination as the title character. Yelling “OBJECTION!” into your DS microphone at opportune times never really gets old, and the narrative threads presented in this edition of the series are perhaps the most well-constructed of any of the Phoenix Wright games. The graphics, as far as the DS is concerened, are top notch, and the puzzles will have you playing well into the night. Trials and Tribulations is not a role-playing game in the traditional sense, though it does force you to become immersed in your characters and solve puzzles based on personalities, dispositions, and, of course, the copious evidence. All in all, it’s simply a fantastic way to spend 20 hours.



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Wednesday, Dec 5, 2007

Conservatively, hundreds of books have been written about the Beatles. In addition to the plethora of autobiographies and biographies, these include children’s books, at least two separate volumes on the late ‘60s “Paul is Dead” hoax, and titles like Earn Extra Money In Your Spare Time Selling Beatles Memorabilia Online. Yet, if necessary, the truly universally essential titles could be grouped into a Nick Hornby-type Top Five, and the late Ian MacDonald’s Revolution in the Head: The Beatles’ Records and the Sixties, originally published in 1994, would be among them. Why? In short, it’s MacDonald’s ingenious tact of cataloging each of the 188 songs the Fab Four ever released, along with a handful they didn’t, in order of the original date of recording, and writing an individual analysis of each. This setup plays on what Beatles observers love or loathe most about the band—the music, stupid!—and uses it as a springboard for analyzing everything else about the band, including influences on and of, personalities, cultural contexts, relationships, and philosophical musings, rather than vice versa.


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Wednesday, Dec 5, 2007

It’s an unqualified disaster and a ridiculous combination of bombastic period piece, director Tinto Brass bravado, and producer Bob Guccione’s unmatched hubris. Inserting XXX pornography into an otherwise ordinary extravaganza was just the Penthouse publisher’s first mistake. Pissing off screenwriter Gore Vidal and overstating the audience’s desire for smut come a close second. So why would anyone want to revisit this biographical botch job? Well, Image has created one of 2007’s most comprehensive DVD packages. With input from actors Malcolm McDowell and Helen Mirren, and archival looks at the production, it deconstructs a project destined to fail and the egos that caused it to happen.


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