For the wine collector or serious wine connoisseur, 1001 Wines is a challenge and a joy. You’re sure to discover something new here, there are 1,001 after all. The only thing you’ll be limited by is your pocketbook as a few of these can get quite pricey and fellow wine-hounds buying out the vintages. 1000 Foods is more of a general audience book with appeal to foodies and chefs. From fruit and cheese to fish and meat, grains and spices, the book covers every essential edible in a lifetime of eating. More than just a long list of stuff, 1001 Foods is also of use to creative cooks looking for new inspiration.
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So amazing and expansive was Nina Simone’s work that it is constantly being remixed, reimagined, repackaged and reconsidered. Since her return to the welcoming embrace of the ancestors, the marketplace has been flooded with no fewer than a dozen reissues and anthologies of Simone’s art. If comprehensiveness and the right balance of bonafide hits, b-side classics, and unreleased live performances are the criteria for a first-rate boxset, then the compilers and producers of To Be Free performed their job masterfully. Spanning the years between 1957 and 1993, the four-disc compilation covers Simone’s years with Bethlehem, Colpix, Philips, RCA, and Columbia Records. Included are nearly all the classics you’d play for some who has never heard of Simone, as well as unreleased material not even in bootleg circulation. By far the most exciting thing about the anthology is the DVD, an Emmy-nominated 1970 documentary enlivened by rare performances and interviews. Engrossing from start to finish, the video gives you a sense of Nina Simone as both an artist and a fearless bandleader. To those of us not fortunate enough to have caught her when she was among the living, the concert footage is a special treat.
So long as David Sardonic, er, Sedaris, is a household name, he will forever be affiliated with Christmas. Who didn’t first come to this man’s oft-times sassy, other times outrageous satire via NPR’s broadcast of “Santaland Diaries”? This funny little stocking stuffer of a book adds six new stories to the 1998 version opening with—what else—“SantaLand Diaries”, which fans will enjoy every Christmas until their sanity has finally left them and they can laugh no more. With this book they’ll get the holiday treat they anticipate, and some new goodies, as well.
Until recently, the PopMatters Multimedia staff consisted entirely of male writers. As such, it was almost a matter of drawing straws to see who would get “stuck” with covering the various Nancy Drew titles pushed out by Her Interactive every nine months or so. From these assignments came an interesting trend, however—to a man, every single person assigned to write about a Nancy Drew game ended up enjoying it, citing it as one of the better adventure games currently being produced for the PC. The latest in the series is no different. In fact, it’s an example of just how Her is putting the increasing budget they’re getting for these games to good use; it’s the best-looking Nancy Drew adventure to date, and yet it retains the unexpectedly complex puzzling of the previous games. Its target audience may be one made up of tween and young teen girls, but Her has proven over and over again that you don’t need to be a member of that group to enjoy this game. The Haunting of Castle Malloy is as good a place in the series as any to begin discovering that for yourself.
How do you satisfy the sex and violence cravings of that notoriously knotty genre film fan on your Christmas list? Why not give him (or her) a combo memento of Kevin Smith’s sly raunch RomCom as shout out to George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead. This actual hockey jersey, featuring a wonderful silhouette of the undead with sticks raised in corpse checking defiance, is a great way to celebrate the holidays. Nothing says Noel like wearing a piece of motion picture paraphernalia that simultaneously suggests horror and hardcore porn, without actually offering either.